Electromagnetic Pollution and a Prescription for Survival

An electronic smog is engulfing our society: A legacy of pleasure and luxury bestowed upon us by ingenious technology.

The dangers from electromagnetic fields are being created artificially by an overflow of microwave ovens, television sets, electric appliances, and cellular phones.

But a costly price is being paid. Many diseases and disorders are now attributed to the consequences of radiation.

Fortunately, preventive measures are available: A diet that can fortify the immune system and reduce the ravages of radiation.

The following information has been gleaned from interviews and research pertaining to the dangers of radiation. It includes questions posed to scientists specializing in studying the phenomena of electromagnetic fields and their proliferation.

Q. What are radiation and radioactivity?
A. The universe abounds with radioactivity. Our bodies are alive because we possess an electrical system. Radiation is the transmission of energy. Modern living and the use of electricity have increased the electromagnetic field in which we exist.

Q. If radiation is a part of life and our heritage, what is there about it that should frighten us? Why consider a natural force a health hazard?
A. During the billions of years during which life evolved on the planet, radioactivity must have played a positive role; why the concern? Proliferation. We are surrounded by a flood of radiation unprecedented in the history of the human race.

The sun, once considered the essence of our existence, can also be hazardous to human health by overexposure to its rays. The expansion of electromagnetic fields creates contaminants (radioactive particles) that penetrate our air, food, the bloodstream, and our bones.

Q. How has the proliferation of radiation affected the workplace?
A. Consider how many devices and silent sources of electronic pollution have entered our modern factories, offices, hospitals, and homes. Practically all cause extra exposure to radiation: power plants, television tubes, and radar food irradiators, dental machinery, video display terminals, product scanners, microwave ovens, electronic games, and—most worrisome of all—industry's need to replace every possible human function with an electronic “robot.”

Don't overlook low-frequency radiation that surrounds us—radio and television towers, remote-control garage doors, satellites, high voltage electric lines, police radios, microwave ovens, citizen's band radios, and countless more being added periodically.

Q. How much does radon contribute to radioactivity in a house?
A. Uranium emits a radioactive gas that has captured the attention of environmentalists. Fortunately, it can be diverted by specially built exhausts that can be installed by a radon specialist or a qualified plumber.

Radon pollution is the second leading cause of lung cancer in the United States, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Q. To what extent does cigarette smoking increase inhalation of radiation?
A. Researchers at Harvard University have discovered that cigarettes contain large amounts of radiation inherent in tobacco. The culprit is a fertilizer used by growers that contains phosphates rich in uranium. The uranium eventually decays to radium and, eventually to polonium-210, a substance that, when inhaled, can endanger tissue health and damage the immune system.

Q. We have been assured that limiting nuclear testing has reduced radioactive fallout and consequently has lessened pollution in the atmosphere. True or false?
A. False, according to Hans Bethe, winner of the 1967 Nobel Prize for Physics. He claims that underground nuclear testing does not eliminate radiation pollution. “People want to eliminate the danger of nuclear weapons by technical means. The wish is futile,” he concluded.

Ranchers in areas where underground testing is taking place have complained that enormous devastation to their herds occurs frequently, the result of nuclear emission, they insist.

Q. Are particular parts of the population more vulnerable to radiation-related illness?
A. No studies have been done among the elderly. Young adults, however, are more vulnerable if they have severe allergies, heart disease, diabetes, and arthritis. They seem to be more susceptible to radiation-related leukemia.

At risk are individuals who show signs of premature aging. Healthy people are less prone to radiation's effects.

Q. Environmental hazards are obviously among the most dangerous factors in dealing with radiation control. How can they be minimized?
A. Use solvents only when absolutely needed and always in a well-ventilated area. Don't overlook questionable purity of the water supply. The use of bottled waters is preferable. Pesticides continue to be a problem. Lead toxicity plagues both children and adults; it is a cumulative poison that accumulates in bone, liver, and other organs.

Lead toxicity can be diminished by avoiding artist's paints, cigarette smoke, insecticides, automobile exhaust, vegetables from outdoor stands, and bone meal pills. Protective factors include vitamins C, D, and B-complex and calcium, magnesium, and zinc.

Q. Aluminum is highly suspect. What are some of the little-known deleterious effects on the immune system?
A. Aluminum is present in cookware, antacids, baking powder, some over-the-counter medicines, and foods baked or cooked in aluminum foil. It is suspected to be a factor in weakening the immune system and to cause anemia, neurological changes, impaired thyroid function, and parathyroid gland impairment.

Q. Is it logical to assume that milk is not a good source of nutrition because cows are extremely vulnerable to radiation?
A. Milk is usually a carrier of radioactive substances. Radioactive substances overwhelm the dairy cow's diet. Nuclear plants cast their waste through cooled reactors into rivers, lakes, and contaminated water fed to cattle.

Q. We know that nuclear reactors have the potential for leakage and consequent emissions. That problem is supposed to be monitored by government agencies and watched by the Atomic Energy Commission. Who supervises nuclear waste?

A. Only recently has the federal government attempted to deal with the growing problem. A solution, however, has not been found. Another source of nuclear contamination requires scrutiny. The radionuclides used in hospitals and often disposed of without identification pose a serious hazard. Congress did pass legislation regarding control of radioactive waste disposal.

Q. There are many reasons why people should avoid eating meat. Is there a specific overriding negative relationship between meat eating and the dangers of radiation?
A. Meat is high on the food chain. By the time the animal is slaughtered for food, it has ingested high concentrations of radioactive material. Contaminants increase in toxicity as they pass down from grass ingested to the flesh and organs eventually eaten by humans.

Unlike carnivores, whose intestinal tracts are short, vegetarian animals retain foods in the digestive tract for longer periods. Radioactive materials permeate their bodies to a larger extent. Another contributing factor is that feed containing chemical pesticides and fertilizers are often processed into their foods inadvertently.

Add a few more unwelcome ingredients: medications given to cattle, blood that the liver did not have time to purify when the animal met its demise, adrenaline formed in fright, and uric acid not excreted.

Q. Is food radiation hazardous to health?
A. Although it has been approved for fruits, vegetables, and grains by the Food and Drug Administration, questions remain. Food irradiation uses gamma rays from cesium-137 and cobalt-60, which are capable of causing chemical changes in these foods. Some of these changes result in free radicals such as benzene, formaldehyde, and hydrogen peroxide—considered by many scientists to be potentially cancer-causing. Few, if any, studies have been performed to prove that irradiation of foods is safe.

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