Editor Note: The full list of research supporting these statements is found below.
February, 2013 – Two Incidents of Pilots Fainting In Flight
Alaska Airlines said an unspecified illness caused one of its pilots to lose
consciousness while flying a Boeing 737-700, leading the copilot to declare
an emergency. While the aircraft was at cruising altitude, the pilot, with
28 years of experience, stood up, became dizzy, lost consciousness and fell
to the floor. There was a similar fainting episode on January 22, also on an
Alaska Airlines aircraft. In that case, the copilot briefly lost
consciousness in flight. In both cases, the pilots held current medical
certificates. There could be several contributing factors. Evidently, all
these Alaska Airlines jets are WiFi-enabled. Potential adverse effects from
this exposure can include nausea, vertigo and fainting. Was this a
“My name is Dr Todd Curtis. I am a licensed pilot and Founder of
AirSafe.com. In the US Air Force I was a flight test engineer, and while an
airline safety engineer at Boeing, I was directly involved in numerous plane
crash investigations. I hold a PhD in Aviation Risk Assessment. I have been
a frequent on-air aviation expert on CNN, CBS, NBC, ABC, MSNBC, Fox News,
CBC, BBC, Discovery Channel, NPR, and numerous other major news media
outlets around the world.
The issue of in-flight wi-fi has recently been brought to my attention by
Dr. Kerry Crofton and her colleagues. Although the risk of radio frequency
radiation from wi-fi and other electrical systems hasn’t been looked at as a
health and safety risk by the aviation community, the fact that some
quarters of the medical and scientific communities have shown that this may
be a risk is a concern to me.
In reviewing this material sent to me by Dr. Crofton, it seems there is
enough evidence to warrant further investigation.
I am not aware of any tests on in-flight wi-fi systems, or if there is a
requirement, with respect to potential health effects on flight crews.
However, it appears this new technology has been tested with respect to its
effect on the electrical, communications, and navigation systems.
It would make sense for the appropriate authorities, including the FAA, to
take a serious look at this issue; one part of the FAA that seems best
equipped to look at this is the Civil Aerospace Medical Institute (CAMI.)
Reportedly, there have been separate incidents of two pilots fainting while
in flight, apparently on aircraft with wi-fi installations. This could be a
huge red flag. That sort of event in the air, with individual pilots being
incapacitated, isn’t consistently reported in the US because there is no
clear legal or regulatory requirement to do so.
Because a wi-fi installation could expose all flight crew members to a
potentially incapacitating condition, it is a situation that could affect
all flightcrew members at the sametime. Anything that could simultaneously
incapacitate all flight crew members would be a major concern. If this were
to happen, the flight crew, cabin crew, and passengers could very quickly be
in ‘a world of hurt.’
The concern is not just for the pilots; it is also for the cabin crew. The
cabin crew’s biggest job is safety – if they are incapacitated that is also
a potential problem, especially during any kind of emergency situation.
There no question that being online while in flight is very attractive for
passengers, but there is at least one very tragic case where a system that
was installed just for passenger entertainment has led to a catastrophic
The 1998 Swissair crash at Peggy’s Cove was due to an damage from an
in-flight fire that was caused by an electrical problem in the passenger
entertainment system. Like the current and proposed airliner wi-fi systems,
this system was there only for the passengers’ benefit, and provided no
improvement to the aircraft’s performance. As entertainment and
communication technology advances in this digital age, passengers are
looking for in-flight wi-fi, and this is an obvious income generating
opportunity for the airlines.
I don’t fault the airlines for looking for ways to satisfy customers while
creating more revenue generating opportunities.
However, it is the aviation regulatory bodies’ responsibility to ensure that
any new technology that is introduced into an aircraft does not have a
negative effect on the health and safety of the passengers, cabin crews, and
As many of the experts in Dr Crofton’s document have stated – there is no
evidence that this new wi-fi technology has been tested for short and long
term health effects on the crew, or that wi-fi related health problems of
flight crews, cabin crews, or passengers are being systematically tracked.
It is therefore quite reasonable to ask if radio frequency radiation
exposure from onboard wi-fi systems can cause or has caused pilots to faint
while flying a commercial airliner.
As you may know, there is no legal requirement for monitoring these kinds of
events, But it doesn’t mean that the information is impossible to acquire.
As I stated in my first book ‘Understanding Aviation Safety Data,’ there are
several key questions that one should ask when trying to understand a
potential, or previously ignored, safety risk. Among those questions are:
who would know, who would care, and who would care enough to record the
information. If those three basic questions could be answered, one could
begin to systematically address the potential risk.
Todd Curtis, PhD
Aviation Health & Safety in the Digital Age Radio-frequency (RF) Exposure
from Mobile Devices and In flight WiFi : A New Human Factor?
We are an international group of experts in aviation, medicine, science and
engineering. We are raising several key questions as there is evidence of
adverse effects on human health and performance from exposure to
electro-magnetic radiation, especially radio-frequency/microwave radiation
from mobile communication technology. The evidence indicates that adverse
effects can occur at levels well below existing safety standards. So the
position that the ?low level? exposures from WiFi and mobile phones are
within government standards (based only on thermal levels) does not dismiss
the evidence of biological damage that occurs with non-thermal exposure.
There is some good evidence for harm; there does not seem to be conclusive
evidence for safety, and there are potential adverse outcomes with wireless
technology that have not been thoroughly investigated. We urge you to
require proper testing on flight crews before implementation.
Adverse effects can include cardiac symptoms, or a sudden neurological event
that could compromise brain function, mental stability and cognitive
abilities, even in an otherwise healthy individual with no previous medical
history. Even without in flight WiFi, pilots? exposure is increasing from
security screening (often with ionizing X-ray technology), the proliferation
of WiFi, and the universal use of increasingly powerful mobile phones and
Our technical experts caution that effects are magnified in the confined
metal space of the fuselage. Our medical experts warn of potential cognitive
and cardiac impairment, making this a crucial issue in transportation,
especially aviation. Sufficient research was not conducted before the global
implementation of WiFi-enabled aircraft. Yes, WiFi is everywhere and there
are economic benefits and wide consumer appeal, but should this innovation
be allowed when there are health and safety concerns? May we ask to review
any testing reports investigating the effects on human health and
performance? And have the in flight RF levels in WiFi-enabled aircraft been
We request that our experts’ comments be taken into consideration and that
your experts consider a risk assessment of what could happen in a worst-case
scenario cognitive impairment and/or cardiac dysfunction of the pilot, for
example. And after reviewing our statements, can they rule out these
potential health and safety outcomes?
May we ask if you have considered who will be monitoring accumulated
exposures, as well as monitoring usage of mobile devices in flight? Is
anyone monitoring WiFi-enabled aircraft to track the flight crew and
passengers for potentially related occurrences/symptoms in flight? Are your
aviation medical experts up to date with this issue, and the emerging
medical condition electro hypersensitivity (EHS), or microwave sickness
syndrome, and its symptoms and adverse effects?
Statements From Scientists, Physicians, Flight Surgeons, Pilots
Full statements from some of these experts are included in this document.
Olaf W. Skjenna, MD, D AvMed, Chief Medical Officer Air Canada (1982-1990)
My specialty is Aerospace Medicine, I am a commercial pilot and flight
surgeon, and was adjunct professor at USC in flight medicine. While I have
not reviewed all the literature, from what evidence I have seen it does not
seem prudent to allow this new WiFi technology on board without further
investigation. As an aviation accident and human factors investigator I know
how a combination of factors contributes to accidents. And I haven’t seen
enough evidence to rule out the possibility that the radiation exposure from
in flight mobile devices could become a new human factor. I believe the
issue of in flight WiFi merits further study.
N. Harv Haakonson, MD, FCBOM, Colonel (Retired) Canadian Forces Former
military pilot, licensed Commercial Pilot, Flight Surgeon Fellow of the
Aerospace Medical Association
Re: certifying commercial aircraft for use of in flight WiFi. Although, in my retirement mode, I can no longer consider myself an expert in these matters, I do remain well informed. There is clearly enough scientific literature available to cause any experienced
reader concern about the potential health and flight safety risks if this certification (changing the air regs to allow in flight WiFi) is done without specific study of the potential implications. I believe that reasonable consideration has been given to flight operational concerns, though I am not sure the answers are clear, but I do not think the potential
impact on the health of passengers, and especially flight crews, has been sufficiently studied to warrant certification at this time.
Neurologist, Professor Salford, MD, Lund University
The voluntary exposure of the brain to microwaves from WiFi and hand-held mobile phones is the largest human biological experiment ever. There is clear evidence that this
radiation causes leakage of the brain’s blood-brain barrier with adverse effects on brain function.
Hans Scheiner, MD, Environmental Medicine Expert
Equipping aircraft with WiFi is a dangerous experiment. Even quite low levels of radio-frequency radiation – from WiFi and mobile devices – can open the blood-brain barrier
and cause a lot of harm, including miniature edemas destroying brain cells which cannot be renewed. This damage presents an increased risk of neurodegenerative conditions including Parkinson’s disease. At the actual levels of 25,000 nW/cm!, which are expected to occur on board commercial airplanes equipped with WiFi, 100% of the animals tested had serious brain damage. Electro hypersensitivity (EHS) is another issue: People with this
condition may faint, feel dizzy, or their vision might be impaired. It’s likely these are signs of opening of the blood-brain barrier. Doctors often tell them their symptoms are psychological. People may also experience nausea, lack of concentration, muscle weakness and skin reactions.
Professor Wilhelm Mosgoeller, PhD, University of Vienna:
During our investigations of healthy human subjects (and RF exposure) certain brain
waves changed. We noted faster response times during exposure which seem to
occur at the expense of the quality of the response. Wrong responses were given within shorter time periods.
Professor Olle Johansson, PhD of the Karolinska Institute
The radiation emitted by mobile phones, and other wireless communication devices, has been shown to damage DNA leading to possible mutations and cancer development,
and is linked to impairments to immune function and neurological diseases and functions, including cognition and behaviour. If you look in the literature, you have a large number of various effects like chromosome damage, impact on the concentration capacity, and decrease in short term memory. Professor Johansson is a researcher summarizing the science and calling for new standards in the 2011 Seletun Statement.
Cardiologist Stephen T. Sinatra, M.D., F.A.C.C.
As far as we know, no one has tested the accumulated exposures within the aircraft when a good number of passengers, and flight crew, are using their mobile devices. It is unwise to install wireless technology (WiFi) in public transportation, especially aircraft. We know that the heart is sensitive to, and can be adversely affected by, the same frequency used for WiFi (2.4 GHz) at levels a fraction of federal guidelines (less than 1%). I would like to see tests on pilots for potential cardiac and cognitive effects.?
Professor Devra Davis, PhD (Nobel Co-Laureate, Epidemiologist and Founder of Environmental Health Trust)
If the cell phone were a drug, it would be banned. And there?s concern about other wireless devices including iPads. The epidemiological approach that says the only proof of harm that really counts is enough sick or dead people has to change, particularly with the
potential health hazards from WiFi exposure, as health problems may take years to develop. Should we wait? I don?t think so, and neither does the European Parliament that has urged caution with this technology.
Neurosurgeon Vini Khurana, MD
The concern with mobile phone radiation is not just brain tumors, but other health effects including behavioral disturbances, salivary gland tumors and microwave sickness syndrome.
Martin Blank, PhD, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons
I am writing to urge a limit on WiFi, especially in flight WiFi. There is now
sufficient scientific data on the biological effects of EMF, and in
particular radiofrequency (RF) radiation, to argue for adoption of
precautionary measures. EMF can cause single and double strand DNA breakage
at exposure levels that are now considered safe. EMF have been shown to
cause other potentially harmful biological effects, such as leakage of the
blood brain barrier that can lead to damage of neurons in the brain, well
below the current safety limits.
The World Health Organization – International Agency for Research on Cancer May, 2011
The Working Group did not quantitate the risk; however, one study
of past cell phone use (up to the year 2004), showed a 40% increased risk
for gliomas in the highest category of heavy users (reported average: 30
minutes per day over a 10′year period)? the evidence, while still
accumulating, is strong enough to support a conclusion that there could be
some risk, and therefore we need to keep a close watch for a link between
cell phones and cancer risk.
A National Institutes of Health cell phone study (February 23, 2011) in the
American Medical Association journal (JAMA) shows that 50 minutes of cell
phone radiation increases metabolic activity in the brain. This study was
conducted by a well-regarded and influential team of researchers from the
National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Brookhaven National Lab (BNL.)
The study is important because it documents that the human brain is
sensitive to the electromagnetic radiation that is emitted by cellphones,”
Nora Volkow, MD reported. Whether these short-term changes will lead to
health consequences (and what they might be) is far from clear, though
Volkow already has preliminary indications of a long-term effect. Nor is the
mechanism of interaction yet known. But the new finding at the very least
forces a rethink of the prevailing orthodoxy, which maintains that low
levels of RF and microwave radiation are too weak to have any effect and can
David Carpenter, MD the director of the Institute for Health and the
Environment in Albany, NY states,
It’s going to be very difficult to deny that RF radiation from a cell phone does not alter nervous system activity.
Carpenter, a neurophysiologist, has been active in the electromagnetic
research community for over 30 years, “This work will turn the whole issue
Oncology professor Lennart Hardell, MD, PhD of Sweden’s Oreboro University
Hospital adds, “It’s time to stop denying the existence of non-thermal effects.”
The American Academy of Environmental Medicine Feb. 25, 2012
Chronic exposure to wireless radiofrequency radiation is a preventable environmental
hazard that is sufficiently well documented to warrant immediate preventative public health action.
COMMERCIAL PILOTS MAY BE EXPERIENCING WiFi-RELATED SYMPTOMS:
A Captain for a Canadian commercial air carrier writes, “Having read a lot of research on this topic, and hearing first-hand how other airline employees are reacting to wi-fi, in hotel rooms and elsewhere, I am certain that this form of radiation is having a negative health effect on many of us. The number of airline employees this year, including pilots and flight attendants, who report having difficulty with WiFi seems to be growing.
Evidently, there are some pilots off sick with mysterious Parkinson-like
symptoms. I can experience ill effects including nausea, shortness of
breath, overall body weakness, and when in a sustained WiFi environment, I
have difficulty focusing, and have skin reactions. I get these symptoms in
hotels, the terminal, my flight planning area and also from cell phones
brought onboard the aircraft. I do not experience these symptoms when away
from this exposure. I will be unable to continue flying if wi-fi is
installed on my aircraft. Safety of the aircraft and the health of those
on board, not entertainment, should be the priority!
I am a First Officer for a US air carrier. When I fly the WiFi-equipped
A321 my joints hurt with inflammation and arthritic-like pain. It typically
takes about 24 hours for the pain to subside. Other symptoms can include
severe headaches, shortness of breath, sleep problems. I do not get the same
symptoms flying the non-WiFi aircraft even though they are in the same
family. Airport terminals are now another challenge. If I have to spend any
excessive time in them I get the same reactions as I do from the WiFi
equipped aircraft. Hotel overnights all in WiFi rooms are another
problem for me now. When I sleep in a non-WiFi room, I sleep much better.
A Partial Summary of Biological Effects
- A 2009 study by researchers in Israel confirmed human subjects exposed to
wireless radiation from cell phones had impaired cognitive functions,
including slower response times to a spatial working memory task. (Luria,
Eliyahu, Hareuveny, Margaliot, Meiran).
- Disruption to normal functioning of neurological, cardiovascular and
endocrine systems (Lai, Salford, Becker, Cherry, Hurtado, Johansson,
- Leakage of the brain?s protective blood-brain barrier (Salford, Persson)
- Impaired cognitive functions, including reaction time (Mosgoeller,
Scheiner, Lai, Becker, Cherry, Luria, Eliyahu, Hareuveny, Margaliot, Meiran)
- Increased agitation, sleep disruptions and food, chemical and
electro-sensitivities (Becker, Holt, Rea)
sSummary Scientific and Medical Issues
There is no conclusive evidence that exposure from mobile phone radiation
and in flight WiFi is without risk from a health and/or aviation safety
There is evidence that even low levels of radio-frequency radiation
emitted by WiFi routers and mobile devices can be harmful to human health
and adversely effect human cognition and performance – even at government
allowed levels, as reported in the BioInitiative Report on Government Standards and the Seletun Statement.
There is no evidence, which we know of, that the accumulated exposures in
a WiFi-enabled aircraft, with or without crew and passengers online, have
been measured or monitored.
We propose these factors should be fully investigated before allowing this
new technology onboard.
Technical Issues: Full statements follow these excerpts.
Electrical Engineer Alasdair Philips:
There are no long-term studies on this accumulated exposure. I would oppose
WiFi being provided inside aircraft cabins. WiFi tests inside an in flight
aircraft have shown that those sitting closest to the Access Points will be
EMR/RF Technical Expert Katharina Gustavs:
Since aircrafts are metal enclosures, any wireless transmitter such as
Wi-Fi-enabled laptops and Smart phones, as well as Wi-Fi access points
operating on the inside, will cause an exponential increase in RF radiation
exposure. Due to reflection and resonance effects and multiple users,
(secondhand) exposure levels can increase 1000% in hot spots, which in some
instances may even exceed official exposure limits (Hondou 2006).
Electrical Engineer Lawrence Gust:
The Wi-Fi base stations placed in the cabin are the least of the problem.
The Airbus A319, for example, has a maximum seating capacity of 156 people.
The big problem comes when 100 passengers all connect with the aircraft WiFi
at the same time.
EMR expert Don Maisch, PhD:
Electromagnetic interference (EMI) with the plane’s electronic equipment is
a potential problem given the endless introduction of wireless devices. My
understanding is that the EMI problem with aircraft systems has still not
satisfactorily been addressed.
EMR/RF Technical Expert Peter Sierck:
I am concerned about increased RF exposure to the passengers, sitting in
seats closest to the routers in airplanes, and cabin staff members. It seems
prudent to conduct proper RF testing to determine the levels the crew and
passengers are exposed to before changing the air regulations.
CONTRIBUTIONS INCLUDED FROM:
Martin Blank, PhD (Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons)
Kerry Crofton, PhD (ret?d Civil Aviation Tribunal, author of Wireless
Professor Devra Davis, PhD (Nobel Co-laureate, Epidemiologist)
Katharina Gustavs (Building Biology environmental consultant)
Lawrence Gust (electrical engineer and certified Building Biologist for IBE)
Olle Johansson, PhD (Associate Professor of Neuroscience, Karolinska
Vini Khurana, MD (Neurosurgeon, and Associate Professor of Neurosurgery)
Don Maisch, PhD (Researcher and EMR Consultant)
Robert Metzinger (Electronics Engineering Technologist)
Wilhelm Mosgoeller, PhD (Professor and Researcher at the Medical University
Alasdair Philips (Electrical/Electronic Engineer, Director of Powerwatch)
Hans Scheiner, MD (German Environmental Physicians Initiative)
Peter Sierck (industrial hygienist with IBE and IBN certification)
Stephen Sinatra, MD (board- certified cardiologist)
CARDIAC EFFECTS AND MORE MEDICAL ISSUES
Here is an open letter from a cardiologist concerned about potential cardiac
Stephen T. Sinatra, M.D., F.A.C.C.
February 28, 2012
RE: WiFi in Commercial Aircraft
The heart is a delicate and complex electromagnetic organ that can be
adversely affected by exogenous signals from wireless technology and its
microwave radiation. For this reason it is unwise to adopt this popular, but
untested technology, in transportation, especially exposing passengers,
pilots and other flight crew to onboard WiFi radiation.
As far as we know, no one has tested the accumulated exposures within the
aircraft when a good number of passengers, and flight crew, are using their
I would like to see tests on pilots for potential cardiac and cognitive
Another issue is who will monitor the usage of in flight mobile devices? For
example, a Sat phone could present additional problems. While pregnant
women, infants and children are particularly vulnerable to this radiation
exposure, we are all at risk. This global implementation of WiFi technology
is creating a new environmental health hazard, and this electro-pollution is
the greatest medical threat of our time.
I know this because I am a board certified cardiologist and have been a
Fellow of the American College of Cardiology since 1977. At the Manchester
Memorial Hospital in Connecticut, I served in several roles, including Chief
of Cardiology, Director of Cardiac Rehabilitation, and Director of Medical
1. There are a growing number of people who have become electro-sensitive
and develop adverse symptoms when exposed to even low levels of
2. Symptoms ‘usually unrecognized’ may include headaches, dizziness,
nausea, feeling faint, pulsing sensations or pressure in the head, chest
pain or pressure, difficulty concentrating, weakness, fatigue, and a racing
or irregular heart accompanied by feelings of anxiety. These symptoms may
seem diverse but they indicate autonomic dystonia or dysfunction of the
autonomic nervous system.
3. We know that the heart is sensitive to, and can be adversely affected
by, the same frequency used for WiFi (2.4 GHz) at levels a fraction of
federal guidelines (less than 1%).
4. In the future, it is quite possible that we may see the need to provide
WiFi-free areas in public spaces like airports, schools, offices and in
We do not know the long-term effects of low-level microwave radiation. The
safety of this technology on human health has not been properly tested and I
would advise that you follow the precautionary principle that states the
“In order to protect the environment, the precautionary approach shall be
widely applied by States according to their capabilities. Where there are
threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty
shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to
prevent environmental degradation.?
(Rio Conference 1992).
The principle implies that we have a social responsibility to protect the
public from exposure to harm, when scientific investigations have found a
plausible risk. That ‘plausible risk’ exists for microwave radiation at very
These protections can be relaxed only if further scientific findings emerge
that provide sound evidence that no harm will result. In some legal systems
the application of the precautionary principle has been made a statutory
In conclusion it is unwise to install wireless technology (WiFi) in public
transportation, especially aircraft.
Stephen T. Sinatra, M.D., F.A.C.C.
Hans-Christoph Scheiner, MD, February 27, 2012
Equipping aircraft with WiFi is a dangerous experiment. The health and
safety of passengers and especially flight crews – are at risk.
Accumulated electro-magnetic radiation exposure may become the new human
factor in transportation.
Since our group the German Environmental Physician Initiative sent a letter
in 2008 to the aviation industry stating our concerns, there has been a
proliferation of WiFi in commercial aircraft, as you know.
In our view, before allowing the addition of WiFi, and its radio-frequency
radiation, to the existing in flight exposures from cosmic radiation and
solar flares, regulatory agencies should conduct an investigation into the
short and long-term effects on human performance and human health. As far as
we know, these tests have not been conducted, making the installation of
WiFi and widespread in flight use of mobile phones, and other wireless
devices, a very dangerous experiment, as I have stated.
We acknowledge WiFi is everywhere and there will be significant health
consequences from these accumulated exposures. However, there are specific
concerns in transportation, especially aviation which must be evaluated.
Radiation effects are magnified in aircraft a metal ‘Faraday’ cage ? and
other confined metal spaces, as they are with increased altitude. The
evidence that this presents health, and flight safety, hazards has
increased. Is the government willing to take this risk? One of the issues is
that no one knows how those who are affected will react. Reactions can
include cognitive impairment and cardiac symptoms. Another concern is that
no one is monitoring exposure for these or other adverse effects, including
long-term cancer risks.
Even quite low levels of radio-frequency radiation – from WiFi and mobile
devices – can open the blood-brain barrier and cause a lot of harm,
including miniature edemas destroying brain cells cannot be renewed. This
damage presents an increased risk of neurodegenerative conditions including
May we ask that you also review the 2008 letter from our group of
Dr. med. Hans-Christoph Scheiner, Environmental physician, MEnchner
[This is the full letter written to many airline executives by Dr. Scheiner
and the German Environmental Physician Initiative.]
Intended Authorization of Mobile Phones and Wireless LAN in Air Traffic
The information was spread in the media, that it is planned to allow the use
of wireless communication devices like cell phones, W-LAN, and similar
electronic tools on commercial flights.
We are highly concerned about this fact.
As a technical innovation the susceptibility of electronic board systems in
relation to microwaves has decreased (to be questioned here are the
remaining risks): the personal use of wireless communication technology on
commercial flights leads to serious health risks to all passengers and
Therefore it should be treated as a fact of the overall security of
commercial airlines. Reason: If there are wireless systems permanently in
use like cell-phone stations, W-LAN, Blue-Tooth, DECT, etc. in addition to
active single cell phones and notebooks on flights with the duration of
several hours, the passengers, crew and pilots would be exposed to excessive
radiation of 25,000 nW/cm! and higher.
Even though these levels of exposure are just from 1/10 to 1/50 of the
actual legal exposure limits, there are multiple scientific proofs of health
risks. Even a radiation dose of 100-500 nW/cm! breaks the blood-brain
barrier, which causes the entry of water, dissolving metabolism waste
products, environmental toxins and blood proteins (especially albumins) into the central nervous system.
The fatal consequences are: miniature edemas occur in the complete brain,
multiple selective swellings in non-renewable brain cells are irretrievably
squeezed to death. They occur as dark neurons in the microscopic picture.
Those dark neurons are proven to be possible starting points of very serious
neurodegenerative diseases like Multiple Scleroses, Parkinson’s disease,
Alzheimer’s disease, senile dementia and so on.
Many scientific studies with animal tests showed significantly this opening
of the blood-brain barrier. Even low levels of 100-500 nW/cm! caused in more
than 50% of the animals tested an opening of the blood-brain barrier. At the
actual levels of 25,000 nW/cm!, which are expected to occur on board
commercial airplanes equipped with WiFi, 100% of the animals tested had
serious brain damage.
The breakage of the blood-brain barrier under the influence of radio waves
and high frequency, which happens at levels far underneath the current legal
exposure limit, has obtained doubtless scientific evidence. This was
significantly found and described by ALBERTS 1977, OSCAR AND HAWKINS 1977, NEILLY AND LIN 1986 SALFORD, BRUN, PERSSON, 1994, 1997, 2003 AUBINEAU AND TOERE 2001, 2003 SCHIRMACHER 1999, 2000 and many others.
Another fact: While the airplane is moving at an altitude between 8,000 and
12,000 metres, a reduced air pressure occurs inside of the plane, which
equals the air pressure of 2000-3000 metres outside. Therefore the
breakage of the blood-brain barrier is more likely because of the lack of
oxygen and the well-known altitude sickness.
The severe consequences of the brain and nerve damage and safety of
passengers are very concerning, especially those of the pilots, because they
are already highly exposed from radar. The symptoms caused by high
frequencies, like headaches, drowsiness, vertigo, nausea are often connected
with loss of hearing and vision; lack of concentration and memorization are
in this context known as the ‘Microwave-Syndrome’ (JOHNSON-LIAKOURIS, 1998, MILD 1998, SANTINI 2001, 2002, 2003, NAVARRO, OBERFELD 2003).
Another dangerous result is the extreme slow down of the neuro-muscular
response because of a doubled reaction time. Also the mental capacity is, in
terms of cognitive disorders, verifiably heavily affected. Epidemiological
studies and exposure trials with volunteers and animals show this clearly,
see also the TNO-STUDY OF PROFESSOR ZWAMBORN 2003, KALODYSKI U. KALODYNKA
1996, PROFESSOR LAI U. SINGH 1966, 1997, 1998, ALTPETER U. ABELIN 1995,
1999, SEMM U. BEASOND 1996, ROSCHKE UND MANN 1996 and many more.
Because of the mostly fatal exits of flight accidents there are no special
data about the influence from radio- and microwaves on flight safety and
security available. But the knowledge we have from other traffic systems on
the ground is surely transferable: in 2002, The British Transport Research
Laboratory found that the time of a reaction of a car driver is 30% lower if
he has been exposed to radio waves than the reaction time of an alcoholized
driver, and 50% lower than the reaction time of a driver who has not been
exposed to either.
In 1997 the University of Toronto (REDELMEIER AND TIBSCHIRANI) found out on
the basis of a big trial that in relation to the length of exposure to radio
waves of the car drivers, the drivers were 5 times as likely to cause an
accident and twice as likely to cause a deadly crash. The same was confirmed
by the RESEARCH GROUP OF VIOLANTI (1998) “CELLULAR PHONES AND FATAL TRAFFIC COLLISION”?, similar facts were proved by PROFESSOR UNGER AT BREMEN
UNIVERSITY: Cell Phone influence while driving leads even for experienced
drivers to a 30% increase in changing and stopping mistakes!
In this context the following is very interesting: it has been proven
multiple times that the use of cellular phones cause electroencephalography
changes of the brain waves! Because of this it was possible for DR. VON
KLITZING AT LUEBECK UNIVERSITY to prove that highly pulsed frequencies like
mobile phones lead to pathologically EEG-patterns of the brain in the so
called ?alpha? rhythm?. This EEG area represents our physical and mental
relaxing and recovering phases. The ?alpha-rhythm? is shown while we sleep
and dream. Pathological EEG changes in this alpha-area ? show up most at 10
Hz ? are an indication of a deep radio wave caused disorder of our physical
and mental health, which reaches deep into our subconscious. Those EEG
changes were already proven before DR. KLITZING by Russian and American
researchers, and after him often reproduced, for example by the German
Department for Work Safety and Occupational Medicine in 1998 (FREUDE ET.
AL.), by THE UNIVERSITY OF ZUERICH UNDER PROF. ACHERMAN, HUBER, BORBELEY ET
The above explanations include that radio waves also cause serious sleep
disorders. It is also proven multiple times that radio waves cause a
decrease in the sleep and body defense hormone Melatonin. (BURCH U.A. 1997,
1998, 1999, 2000, REITER U. ROBINSON 1994,1995, ABELIN U. ALTPETER 1995,
1999 U.A.M.) Let’s not forget about the intermediate massive impairment of
our microcirculation and therewith the oxygen supply of our inner organs and
brain caused by the tendency of our red blood cells to stick together under
the influence of radio waves. (DR. PETERSOHN 1998, RITTER UND WOLSKI 2005).
In addition to this PROF. KUNDI (Environmental hygienic department of Vienna
University) found a high increase of heart attacks, strokes, thromboses and
embolism in people who live near transmitter masts. All of these are
disorders that could lead to an immediate airplane crash, with hundreds of
victims, if this would happen to pilots. And finally the following is for
all airlines to consider: electrosensitivity and electroallergies to
wireless electronic devices already bother 10% of the worldwide population,
and this tendency is rapidly increasing. Even short flights, but especially
long ones, on which the passengers are constantly given a continual exposure
of radio and microwaves would lead to a reduction of bookings and a
recognizable decrease in sales for airlines which permit cell phone systems,
notebooks and similar wireless instruments on board.
This has already been seen in Germany and other countries where
electro-sensitive or allergic people avoid high-speed trains because of
permanently active Repeaters (amplifiers of High Frequency signals).
This is one of the facts that cause the above described microwave syndrome
(headaches, nausea, drowsiness, vision disorders etc) and their change over
to using different ways of transportation like cars, buses and trains
The decrease of sales is doubtless continuing, and will do so even more as
passengers realize what kind of danger permanent radio and microwaves on
board hold for flight security. We ask you not to ignore these scientific
facts about the dangers of radio and microwaves.
Dr. med. Hans-Christoph Scheiner, Environmental physician, Menchner
rzteappell Munich, July 24th, 2008.
By orders of the German Environmental Physician Initiative represented by:
Dr. med. Wolf BergmannFreiburger rzte-Appell, Dr. med. Horst Eger
rztlicher Qualit?tszirkel Naila.
Dr. med. Markus Kern Mobilfunk-?rzteinitiative,
Allgu-Bodensee-Oberschwaben, Dr. med. Peter Lackner M’nchnerrzteappell,
Dr. med. dent. Joh. LechnerMnchen, Vorsitzender der GZM, Dr. med.
Joachim Mutter Universittsklinik Freiburg Columbia University, College of
Physicians and Surgeons Department of Physiology and Cellular Biophysics 630
West 168 Street New York, NY 10032
February 18, 2012
Re: Health effects of in-flight WiFi
I have been active in research on biological effects of electromagnetic
fields (EMF) for over thirty years at Columbia University. I was also one of
the organizers of the 2007 online Bioinitiative Report that reviewed the
latest research on EMF safety and made recommendations to remedy existing
errors and base standards on biological effects. The report was cited by the
European Parliament when they voted to review EMF safety standards. I am
writing to urge a limit on WiFi, especially in-flight WiFi, where passengers
have no way of avoiding exposure.
There is now sufficient scientific data on the biological effects of EMF,
and in particular radiofrequency (RF) radiation, to argue for adoption of
precautionary measures. EMF can cause single and double strand DNA breakage
at exposure levels that are now considered safe…
EMF have been shown to cause other potentially harmful biological effects,
such as leakage of the blood brain barrier that can lead to damage of
neurons in the brain, well below the current safety limits. Probably the
most convincing evidence of potential harm comes from living cells
themselves when they start to manufacture protective stress proteins upon
exposure to EMF.
This means that when stress protein synthesis is stimulated by
radiofrequency or power frequency EMF, the body is telling us in its own
language that RF exposure is potentially harmful.
Many potentially harmful effects, such as the stress response and DNA strand
breaks, occur at non-thermal levels (field strengths that do not cause a
temperature increase) and are therefore considered safe.
It is obvious that the safety standards must be revised downward to take
into account the nonthermal responses that occur at much lower intensities.
Since we cannot rely on the existing standards, the precautionary principle
appears to be the most reasonable approach for those who must protect the
health and welfare of the public.
Martin Blank, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Physiology and Cellular Biophysics
INTERNATIONAL EMF EXPOSURE STANDARDS: Professor Blank is one of the
scientists in the BioInitiative Report calling for revised exposure levels
to be brought into line with the science to be biologically based.
MORE EVIDENCE OF COGNITIVE IMPAIRMENT
We have seen other human performance issues including a study on RF
radiation by Horst Eger, MD (Eger and Buchner, Rimbach, Germany 2011)
indicating adverse effects on neurotransmitters with sleep and rest,
vertigo, and concentration problems.
In 2009, we saw evidence of cognitive impairment from Wi-Fi and cell phone
radiation by researchers Professors Kundi and Mosgoeller of the Vienna
From Professor Wilhelm Mosgoeller, PhD:
During the investigations of healthy human subjects, effects of GSM-900 and
UMTS fields were studied under double-blind conditions whereby exposure
levels were below current exposure guidelines at all times. During and after
the actual exposure, certain brain waves (the so-called EEG alpha band, 8-13
Hz) changed. Some of the changes were statistically significant. And some
CNS responses to acoustic and optical stimuli (so-called evoked potentials)
mediated by brainwaves remained significantly changed even 30 minutes after
the exposure. We noted faster response times during exposure, which,
however, seem to occur at the expense of the quality of the response because
wrong responses, in particular, were given within shorter time periods.
There is a wealth of evidence about the health risks associated with this
technology, so it is not a question of insufficient evidence anymore. This
is now about the conflict between commercial interests of an industry
supported by the government and the protection of public health.
The BUND warns: ‘The ubiquitous exposure to this unnatural type of radiation
at unprecedented levels of power density harms human health. Short-term and
long-term health impairments are preprogrammed and will especially manifest
in the next generation if politically responsible actions are not taken
Alasdair Philips, qualified in Electrical and Electronic Engineering
I am a practising electrical engineer and scientist, and have advised the
British government and other groups on electro-magnetic radiation (EMR)
issues. At first I thought wireless technology was brilliant. I now believe
that the mistake we are making will have much more serious long-term adverse
effects on our well-being than either smoking tobacco or asbestos. As you
know, most airports and other public spaces are now wireless ‘hot spots’ of
RF radiation. As you may not know, this is affecting us all.
And there are a growing number of people who are electro-sensitive (ES) and
suffer mild to serious symptoms in a wireless environment. Most ES people
already can’t travel in planes, with the aircraft’s electro-magnetic fields,
with video screens built into the seats etc., let alone in-flight WiFi. I
have measured fields in a Gulf Stream 550 taking off from and landing at
national UK airports and circulating around the UK. I also measured the
passenger cabin which was WiFi enabled. Highest readings by far were the
airport radars (10s of volts per metre). Next was the WiFi, which was
similar to the aircraft DME signals from the transponders mounted below the
fuselage. We are told the radiation levels are “well within government
health and safety limits.”
Planes are not an EMF-friendly environment even now. Most have in-flight
video screens built into the back of each seat. These are a source of
high-frequency fields both for the people watching the screen and for those
whose seat it is fitted into. There are also signals from various plane
transponders mounted under the fuselage which make their way up into the
cabin at surprisingly high levels. Many planes also have an emergency
Iridium phone system that is internally active all the time they are in the
air, with active handsets at both ends of the plane using a pulsing DECT
(digital) cordless phone like signal 24-7.
We are also told that in-flight WiFi as well as airport security scanners
are safe and emit lower levels than what we receive from cosmic radiation
during the flight, or being on the earth’s electromagnetic fields. False
Security scanners present a significant problem for flight crews, with
already high occupational exposure, and frequent flyers who must pass
through these scanners frequently. The key point is the bombarding of the
skin with a mass of electrons. That may, or may not be a significant
problem, but there has been almost no work done to test it on animals (or
humans) at these relatively low energy levels. And there’s now the
additional exposure of on-board wi-fi. There are no long-term studies on
this accumulated exposure. I would oppose WiFi being provided inside
aircraft cabins. WiFi tests inside an in-flight aircraft have shown that
those sitting closest to the Access Points will be highly exposed.
Philips, February 28, 2012
Katharina Gustavs, Cert. EOH, Building Biology Environmental Consultant IBN
Without any additional Wi-Fi radiation exposure, air travel already puts a
high level of stress on flight personnel and passengers, including cosmic
radiation exposure, reduced oxygen and air pressure, extended periods of
immobility in a confined space, etc. Since aircrafts are metal enclosures,
any wireless transmitter such as Wi-Fi-enabled laptops and Smart phones as
well as Wi-Fi access points operating on the inside will cause an
exponential increase in RF radiation exposure. Due to reflection and
resonance effects and multiple users, (secondhand) exposure levels can
increase 1000% in hot spots, which in some instances may even exceed
official exposure limits (Hondou 2006).
But even at levels below Health Canada’s Safety Code 6 (10,000,000 “W/m2),
passengers may develop headaches, dizziness, and tachycardia, which is why
all precautionary EMF guidelines recommend to keep ambient RF radiation
levels as low as possible, certainly below 1000 “W/m2 (Salzburg Resolution
2000) or 170 “W/m2 (Seletun Consensus Statement 2011). In building biology,
we prefer to keep RF exposure levels below 10 “W/m2 (SBM-2008). These
precautionary EMF guidelines are easily exceeded within close range of
activated Wi-Fi-enabled laptops and smartphones as well as Wi-Fi access
Not only does low-level RF radiation interfere with the proper functioning
of the human body, avionics systems are not immune, either. For example, an
aircraft wireless terminal was found to interfere with a ground base station even from a distance of 286 km (Moraitis 2010). In a worst case scenario,
Honeywell display units on a Boeing 737NG went blank during EMI
certification testing of Wi-Fi systems (Boeing 2011). The U.S. Aviation
Safety Reporting System has many incidents on file where personal electronic
devices used by passengers cause interference with the avionics systems
(ASRS 2011). The current trend is to design aircrafts that are more immune
to the ever-increasing level of RF radiation from personal electronic
devices (Walen 2008), but where does that leave human health?
Unnecessary and potentially harmful RF radiation exposure as well as
electromagnetic interference with avionics systems can be avoided by
hardwiring each seat for Internet access. At minimum, any in-cabin wireless
network for passengers should be based on optical radiation, which would
eliminate any interference issue with avionics systems. Moreover, with
optical radiation it would be much easier to establish exposure-free zones
within the aircraft for those who require them for medical reasons and those
who prefer them for health reasons?just a simple curtain would block this
form of radiation. For the protection of public health, of course, hardwired
is the way to go.
Rob Metzinger, Electronics Engineering Technologist, BBEC, President Safe
Having Wi-Fi on a commercial airliner poses 2 concerns for me. One concern
being the intensity
of the exposure levels to the passengers, crew and the pilots the other
concern being the risk of Electromagnetic interference on the navigation
As an EMF mitigation specialist, I have seen instances where electronics
signals can impact other electronics in their surroundings. This concerns me
with the in-flight navigation equipment. With Wi-Fi devices in an aircraft,
the following signals would potentially be present: W-LAN, Blue- Tooth,
DECT, cell phones, Notebooks to name a few. Each of these devices radiates a
unique wireless signal pattern which can couple onto the backbone wiring of
the aircraft if it is not properly shielded. If the signals are intense
enough, electromagnetic interference ?EMI? could result thus impeding the
functionality of an in-flight control system.
Exposure levels of the crew and passengers are also an issue as the fuselage
of an aircraft is metal.
Metal is a known reflector of radio waves and microwaves. This means that
radio-frequency energy generated by the Wi-Fi transmitters will be reflected
around the cabin elevating RF exposure. As each person activates his or her
personal Wi-Fi device the exposure to all passengers and crew will increase
as well. One of the side effects of exposures to this type of radiation is
delayed reaction time. The last thing a pilot needs is having his reaction
Don Maisch, PhD Environmental Building Survey Consultant
I am a member of the Australasian College of Nutritional and Environmental
Medicine (ACNEM) and have published numerous papers on various aspects of
EMR exposure, from health related issues to reducing EMR in the workplace.
My concerns mirror those of Rob Metzinger. Electromagnetic interference
(EMI) with the plane’s
electronic equipment is a potential problem given the endless introduction
of wireless devices. The paper at the end of this document is from 1997 but
my understanding is that the EMI problem with aircraft systems has still not
satisfactorily been addressed. If we apply a risk/benefit approach,
why provide the benefit of passengers being able to use these devices for
entertainment for a few hours flight when the risk, even if very remote, is
a catastrophic electronic failure at a critical time in the plane’s journey.
SAFETY SHOULD BE PARAMOUNT!!!
Another issue is that the microwave emissions will be reflected back into
the cabin from the curved metal skin. This IS an occupational Health and
safety concern for flight crews who will be spending much of their work time
bathed in these emissions.
Lawrence Gust, Electrical Engineer, and Faculty & Board of the International
Building Biology & Ecology
RE: the installation of WiFi on airplanes
The WIFI base stations placed in the cabin are the least of the problem. The
Airbus A319, for example, has a maximum seating capacity of 156 people. The
big problem comes when 100 passengers all connect with the aircraft WiFi at
the same time.
Measurements made in Germany a few years ago quantifying the RF power
density of a single PC at 5 feet as 1580 “W/m2. Multiply this by 100 and you
get 158,000 “W/m2. All this radiation is bouncing off the metal skin of the
plane running in to other radiation streams and reinforcing at the
intersections. In my view this is an absolutely stunning power density that
all passengers must sit through for the duration of the flight. This is
worse than second hand smoke on planes before smoking was banned. And on
those planes the ventilation system provided 100% outside air, but now there
is no escape from the RF pollution. If passengers knew what the attached RF
Effects graph shows, non-using passengers would be very unwilling guinea
pigs for this diabolical experiment. The installation of WiFi on airplanes
With 3% of the population reacting to smart meters the minute they are
installed and another 15% becoming sensitized in four or so weeks we will
have a great number of very uncomfortable passengers and some no doubt will be permanently impaired. The radiation from all digital wireless devices
having the same qualities can be expected to invoke a reaction in many
people and I think it’s going to murder some passengers through stroke or
Larry Gust, March 3, 2012
Neurological Conditions and Electro-hypersensitivity
There are many symptoms connected with EMR exposure including difficulty
sleeping, headaches, dizziness, eye pain, cardiovascular reactions, and many
more. Medical researchers also suggest an extensive range of brain and
nervous system-related conditions. Dr. Hans Scheiner has treated thousands
of people with electro-hypersensitivity (EHS) symptoms:
Some people are electro-allergic ? not only sensitive but hyper-sensitive.
When they are exposed they have headaches, sleeping problems, exhaustion
during the day, dizziness, vomiting, tachycardia, concentration and memory
problems. They may faint or their vision might be impaired. It?s likely
these are signs of opening of the bloodbrain barrier. Doctors often tell
them their symptoms are psychological.
Dr. Scheiner says an electro-hypersensitive person can usually recover from
the symptoms by avoiding the exposure. The next step along the continuum is
what he calls an electro-allergic reaction, in which the body?s response is
a real illness. Some will feel no ill effects ? then suddenly will be hit
with something as serious as cancer, high blood pressure or a stroke.
Dr. Scheiner also says people who have had cancer are more susceptible to
developing electrohypersensitivity; their bodies are likely too busy
fighting the cancer to be able to fend off this extra assault.
Dr. Scheiner’s observation:
Each symptom, like the headaches, sleep disruption, dizziness etc. can be
unspecific, caused by a lot of different reasons. It gets specific,
however, when you experience several of these– this could be what we’re
calling ‘microwave syndrome’ this is not a sickness, it is a warning system.
Your body is trying to alert you, saying, “‘?m having trouble here, get me
out of this situation.” These symptoms are a call for help. As you may know,
in our conventional medical system, it is often our approach to deal with
these symptoms, in a sense trying to shut the body up, masking the calls for
help and giving relief of the symptoms.
The cause of the distress, however, may not be addressed and therefore
continues the harm. What we see, clinically, is that this can progress to
more serious conditions.
Insomnia, Stress, Mood
As Dr. Scheiner describes, your ability to sleep can be a good indicator of
your EMR exposure and sensitivity.
Many people who are not sleeping well may be unknowingly immersed in a high
EMR environment. We know the agitating effect of EMR on the brain. Is it any
wonder that difficulty sleeping is one of the primary and most prevalent
EMR exposure has been shown to make it more difficult to ‘wind down’ and can
also reduce the amount of melatonin in the brain. According to some
research, using a cell phone for more than 25 minutes a day for two weeks
can be enough to reduce melatonin levels.
Katharina Gustavs adds, “According
to J. Burch’s research, the effect is exacerbated if you sit in a dimly lit
office for most of the day.”
As you may know, this hormone is necessary for deep, restful sleep, which
also allows the body to recharge and heal itself.
Dr. Scheiner has treated thousands of people with EHS symptoms and agrees
the number of people affected is on the rise:
Some people are electro-allergic, not only sensitive but hyper-sensitive.
When they are exposed they have headaches, sleeping problems, exhaustion
during the day, dizziness, nausea, vomiting, tachycardia, concentration and
memory problems. They may faint or their vision might be impaired. It?s
likely these are signs of opening of the blood-brain barrier. Doctors often
tell them their symptoms are psychological.
Dr. Scheiner says an electro-hypersensitive person can usually recover from
the symptoms by avoiding the exposure. The next step along the continuum is
what he calls an electro-allergic reaction, in which the body?s response is
a real illness. Some will feel no ill effects, then suddenly will be hit
with something as serious as cancer, high blood pressure or a stroke.
FROM ALASDAIR PHILIPS, UK ELECTRICAL ENGINEER:
In the slide below from Professor Anderson of Aalborg University, who
specializes in antennas and mobile communication, the WiFi access point
(transmitter/receiver) is marked in the top front corner of the cabin and
then they calculated and measured the RF power density exposure of the
The lower right-hand-side graph shows the exposure levels and, as would be
expected, they get much higher in the seats closest to the WiFi access
These are the only measurements I have heard of w.r.t. WiFi in aircraft.
At these levels of exposure, headaches, fatigue, muddled thinking,
confusion, irritability, generally increased stress, and in principle also
cardiac symptoms – yes, all seem possible, and likely, in some passengers
and flight crew.
FROM US EXPERT LARRY GUST:
Assuming that is the Full Wave power density and using what I assume to be
statistically smoothed experimental data (LOS theory line) these are the
results at three distances from the source. These levels could induce
FROM EUROPEAN EXPERT KATHARINA GUSTAVS
Any RF exposure above 100 !W/m2 is considered a significant concern.
At 10 m the background level is still between 600 and 800 “W/m2.
Boeing receives approval from the FAA for ?Earth Stations Aboard Aircraft.?
Our technical team responds to the remarks of an aerospace engineer
connected with committee:
(Evidently, he also said they had not considered the effects with a
planeload of people online.)
Committee engineer: The plane is not a faraday cage when airborne.
Katharina Gustavs: Whether this metal container of an aircraft is airborne
or not, it functions more or less as a Faraday cage due to its large metal
Neuroscientist Professor Olle Johansson, PhD of the Karolinska Institute: a
metal/aluminum airliner is an excellent Faraday’s cage.
Rob Metzinger: The plane is not a complete faraday cage but almost. Multiple
reflections of RF will occur inside of the fuselage. As more users use their
wireless device the levels would increase but would still probably remain
below existing standards of exposure and flight attendants and pilots have worse effects from gamma radiation.
Professor Johansson: So then we can booster them with some harmful
microwaves as well?
KG: Yes, gamma radiation is worse. However, considering that two thirds of
the radiation effects of gamma radiation are mediated through an excess of
free radicals; it won’t help matters when another agent such as Wi-Fi
radiation is added that is also known to cause free radical stress.
RM: Cosmic radiation has always been a serious concern when flying. Now we
are adding a new type of radiation to the mix. Not a good idea especially
for the crew.
There would be a lot of radiation from all of the devices but that the
antenna on top of the planes is directional to the satellite and then a wire
feeds into the plane.
KG: Yes, the majority of the radiation exposure would come from the devices
used inside the aircraft. But this wire from the outside antenna will be
hooked up to an antenna or a number of access points inside the aircraft,
which would cause the highest exposure to those closest to them.
The metal protects one from the radiation and it is within the standards and
KG: Yes, the metal will reduce the exposure to outside RF sources, which is
most likely within the “standards,” but I would not call this safe. There
are so many Wi-Fi-enabled devices (e.g. tablets, smartphones, etc.) that do
not come with the option of a wired connection that, even if Ethernet ports
are provided onboard, people would not be able to use them, except for they
still have an old-fashioned notebook. The engineers do not seem to have a
problem with fitting an entire computer into a slim smartphone. I think
there should also be room for an miniaturized Ethernet port. Most people do
not realize that their smartphones, for example, contain many wireless
transmitters, including Wi-Fi, which they hardly ever
use all at once. They not only cause the battery to drain quickly but also
to increase their exposure. Imagine the possible effect of all these
interfering signals, whether airborne or not.
Partial List of References Concerning This Issue:
Summarizing the Science ? by researcher Henry Lai, PhD
Reporting biological effects of radiofrequency radiation (RFR) at low
intensities Kolodynski and Kolodynska (1996)- school children who lived in
front of a radio station had less developed memory and attention, their
reaction time was slower, and their neuromuscular apparatus endurance was
Mann et al. (1998)- a transient increase in blood cortisol was observed in
human subjects exposed to cellular phone RFR at 0.02 mW/cm2. Cortisol is a
hormone involved in stress reaction.
Persson et al. (1997)- reported an increase in the permeability of the
blood-brain barrier in mice exposed to RFR at 0.0004 – 0.008 W/kg. The
blood-brain barrier envelops the brain and protects it from toxic
Santini et al. (2002)- increase in complaint frequencies for tiredness,
headache, sleep disturbance, discomfort, irritability, depression, loss of
memory, dizziness, libido decrease, in people who lived within 300 m of
mobile phone base stations.
Tattersall et al. (2001)- low-intensity RFR (0.0016 – 0.0044 W/kg) can
modulate the function of a part of the brain called the hippocampus, in the
absence of gross thermal effects. The changes in excitability may be
consistent with reported behavioral effects of RFR, since the hippocampus is
involved in learning and memory.
Studies cited by neuroscientist Sarah Starkey, PhD
Lai, H., 2007, Evidence for effects on neurology and behaviour,
Bio-Initiative Report, www.bioinitiative.org (accessed August ?08).
Landgrebe M., Hauser S., Langguth B., Frick U., Hajak G. and Eichhammer P.,
2007, Altered cortical excitability in subjectively electrosensitive
patients: results of a pilot study, J. Psychosom Res., 62(3), 283-288.
Lopez-Martin E., Relova-Quinteiro J. L., Gallego-Gomez R.,
Peleteiro-Fernandez M., Jorge-
Barreiro F. J. and Ares-Pena F. J., 2006, GSM radiation triggers seizures
and increases cerebral c-fos positivity in rats pretreated with
subconvulsive doses of picrotoxin, Neuroscience Letters 398, 139-144.
Maachi M. M., and Bruce J. N., 2004, Human pineal physiology and functional
significance of melatonin, Frontiers in Neuroendocrinology 25, 177-195.
Maby E., Le Bouquin R. and Faucon G., 2006, Short-term effects of GSM mobile
phones on spectral components of the human electroencephalogram, Proceedings
of the 28th IEEE EMBS Annual International Conference 1, 3751-3754.
Maier R., Greter S.-E. and Maier N., 2004, Effects of pulsed electromagnetic
fields on cognitive processes – a pilot study on pulsed field interference
with cognitive regeneration, Acta Neurol Scand 110, 46-52.
Nittby H., Grafstram G., Tian D. P., Malmgren L., Brun A., Persson B. R.,
Salford L. G., Eberhardt J., 2008, Cognitive impairment in rats after
long-term exposure to GSM-900 mobile phone radiation, Bioelectromagnetics
Vecchio F., Babiloni C., Ferreri F., Curcio G., Fini R., Del Percio C. and
Rossini P. M., 2007, Mobile phone emission modulates interhemispheric
functional coupling of EEG alpha rhythms, European Journal of Neuroscience
Wiart J., Hadjem A., Wong M. F., Bloch I., 2008, Analysis of RF exposure in
the head tissues of children and adults, Phys Med Biol 53(13), 3681-3695.
WHO (World Health Organisation), 2006, Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity,
Proceedings of the International Workshop on EMF Hypersensitivity, Prague,
See the BioInitiative Report www.bioinitiative.org and the Seletun Statement
International EMF Alliance This research demonstrates mobile phone radiation
can affect the brain: EFFECT OF ELECTROMAGNETIC RADIATION FROM MOBILE PHONE
ON THE LEVELS OF CORTICAL AMINO ACID NEUROTRANSMITTERS IN ADULT AND YOUNG
Y.A. KHADRAWY*, NAWAL A. AHMED**, HEBA S. ABOUL EZZ**, N.M. RADWAN***Medical
Physiology Department, National Research Center, Giza, Egypt **Zoology
Department, Faculty of Science, Cairo University, Giza, Egypt
The present study aims to investigate the effect of electromagnetic
radiation (EMR) generated by mobile phones on the levels of amino acid
neurotransmitters; glutamate, aspartate, GABA, glycine and taurine in the
cortex of adult and young rats. Several studies showed that EMR could
influence normal brain physiology, probably by changing cortical
excitability. In the present study,adult and young rats were exposed to EMR
for one hour/day. Amino acids were measured after 1 hour, 1, 2 and 4 months
of daily EMR exposure and after 1 month of stopping exposure that extended
daily for 4 months. The present data showed that in adult rats EMR induced
significant changes in the cortical levels of some studied amino acids
throughout the exposure periods. However, in young rats EMR induced
significant changes after 4 months of daily exposure and after stopping
exposure. It could be suggested that the changes in amino acid
neurotransmitters may underlie the EMR-induced changes in cortical
More Commercial Pilots Express Their Observations & Concerns
The following letter was sent to us by Dr. Maisch. While much has changed
since this was written, it contains some noteworthy points and raises some
good questions. Electromagnetic Interference with Aircraft Systems: why
Peter B. Ladkin with colleagues, October 1997
Jim Irving is a colleague who flies B737 aircraft for a major US carrier. He
One day departing Portland Oregon we noted that the FMC [Flight Management
Computer] Map display showed a disagreement with the “raw data” VOR
position. Our training is such that we would normally immediately switch
over to “raw data” and assume the FMC was in error. We would have done that
except that it was a beautifully clear day and I looked out the window and
was able to determine that the FMC seemed to be right on. I called back to
the cabin and asked the flight attendants to check for someone using a cell
phone or computer. A few minutes later they called back to say that a man
had been using his cell phone and it was now off. Strangely (?) our VOR and
FMC map now agreed.
Later in the flight the flight attendants called back and said that they had
caught the man using his cell phone again but this time we had not noticed
any problems, perhaps because we were in cruise far from the ground and not
paying as much attention.
Andre Berger is a colleague who flies B737 aircraft for a major European
airline and who has had first-hand experience of some of these incidents.
While interference is not proven, he believes it gives considerable cause
for concern; and that while it may be difficult to demonstrate the
relationship using Brunnstein’s `forensic’ criterion, this could be due to
the fact that the equipment needed to do so is not on board the aircraft at
the times the incidents occur. Berger monitors the IATA confidential
incident reports, and also has some experience of his own to contribute: In
our company we recently had a Localizer deviation (out of tolerances) on a
B737-200 related to a GSM (mobile phone) being operated by a passenger (who
was disregarding our company regulations).
When requested by the cabin crew to switch off his GSM, localizer
indications became normal. Is this scientific proof? Certainly not, but good
enough for me as a captain to insist that all the electronic toys,
computers, mobile phones, etc., are OFF during critical phases of flight. I
had fuel indications on the FMC going crazy on board the B737, that returned
to normal when all electronic stuff in the back was switched off. I suspect
a “Gameboy” electronic game device to have interfered, but this is no more
than a guess. No, I did not ask to switch the toy back on again and
investigate more in depth as I was responsible for the safety of 140
passengers and this would have been extremely irresponsible! This is not a
situation in which to do such testing! This [everpresent responsibility
accounts for why] there is no “proof” of the relationship.
I also recall experiencing *impossible* mode annunciations on the FMA
(flight mode annunciator) on B737. Having both the autothrottle AND the
pitch channel of the autopilot trying to maintain speed (both in MCP SPD
mode) for example, not programmed by the pilot (you cannot program that).
After an expensive in-depth troubleshooting session by our maintenance
department, the incompatible mode annunciations were traced to a … faulty
cockpit window heat wiring. This caused electronic interference with the
auto flight system.
Berger has also recounted two more incidents: June 07, 1997. B737-300:
*Verify position* was indicated on the CDU. Both IRS and radio position were
correct, the FMC position was not. The difference rapidly increased to 8
nautical miles. After switching a GSM in the cabin from STBY to OFF, the FMC
updated normally. FMC was correct for the remainder of the flight and on the
April 30, 1997. B737-400: During level cruise, the AP pitched up and down
with ROC/ROD of 400 fpm indicated. Other AP was selected: no change. Cabin
was checked for PC’s and other electronic devices: nothing was found.
Requested passengers to verify that their mobile phone (GSM) was switched
OFF. Soon after this request all pitch oscillations stopped.
Just glitches or did interference really occur? Don’t know, but EMI
(electro-magnetic interference) is a problem that needs more research.
Apparently, there are also some incidents with older aircraft. There was one
incident reported with a B737-200. During approach to MAN (Manchester
International, UK), the LOC for landing runway 24 oscillated and centered
with the aircraft not on track (but offset), confirmed visually.
Ground equipment was monitored and working normally. When a GSM in the cabin
was switched off, all indications became correct.
Frank McCormick, an aerospace engineering colleague who is also a FAA
Designated Engineering Representative, wonders about the physics of such
possible incidents: The threat levels presented by the gadgetry in question
– personal computers, cellular phones, compact-disk players, handheld video
games and so on — are mere background noise compared to the threat levels
that must be demonstrated during environmental qualification testing [of the
aircraft systems]. How could an FMC [Flight Management Computer] pass, say,
DO-160C [standard certification] tests, yet lose its mind in the presence of
a cell phone on standby?
Peter Mellor, of the Center for Software Reliability at City University in
London, reports that
The cabling on the A320 has not only been tested for resilience to “normal”
EMI, but for its ability to withstand the much greater pulse that would
result from the aircraft flying through a powerful radar beam, for example.
While doubting that the suspected-EMI phenomenon is ubiquitous, McCormick
suggests that some sort of systematic investigation could proceed by
inviting protagonists (actual airplane, pilots, customer with suspect
device) to participate in attempts to reproduce the incidents. Berger
reports that in fact very few systematic tests are performed anyway: he
asked a major portable phone manufacturer’s representative what tests they
performed for EMI from their devices in aircraft.
The manufacturer performed none because use of cellphones is illegal in
aircraft at this time.
Berger notes that nevertheless such tests are relevant, because these phones
are frequently used surreptitiously or inadvertently on aircraft. He also
notes that most electromagnetic interference testing is `bench-testing’,
performed on independent subsystems, and that this may suggest an
interesting suspect point of weakness in the aircraft, namely the system
interconnections. Recall one of the incidents he noted above: neither the
electronics nor the well-shielded wiring itself, but the wiring connections
seem to have been problematic.
He reports incidents to specific aircraft (whose registration `tail numbers’
are also given in the reports): On a specific B737-300, a MCP (mode control
panel) was doing weird stuff intermittently during several flights. I mean
really weird: like letting both pitch and auto throttle fight each other to
maintain speed. Nearly all boxes involved (MCP, FCC, several AFDS boxes)
were changed before a clever mechanic found out that the windshield heat was
not correctly grounded. This is located just a few inches from the MCP and
is one of the big consumers on board. Tightening a few nuts solved an
On a specific B737-400, the FMC was doing weird things, mainly in cruise.
Some pilots reported that after a request to the passengers to switch off
electronic equipment, the problem was solved, others said it did not help
anything even with every electronic gadget switched off in the cabin.
Others reported nothing abnormal with CD’s, PC’s, Gameboys and more of that
stuff trying to jam the system unsuccessfully. Troubleshooting was done and
it was decided to replace another black box that was suspected. It was
pulled out but, no spare was available. So the same black box was pushed in
again. Problem solved, it never happened again!
Connections are a possible weak point. And difficult to duplicate if a
problem exists. Can an imperfect connection make a tested system EMI
susceptible or not? He emphasises, as do the RTCA and the other
correspondents, that more research and systematic methods of testing are
urgently to figure this situation out.
John Dimtroff is an electrical engineer on the Transport Standards Staff of
the FAA Transport Aircraft Certification Directorate in Seattle. He is also
a member of the Joint Airworthiness Authority/Federal Aviation
Administration Electromagnetic Effects Harmonization Working Group. He has
been a Federal Communications Commission investigator and inspector, a
Boeing RF design engineer and a US Air Force Radar Specialist. He reports
some incidents first-hand:
… even the aircraft’s own certified airborne equipment can play games on
itself. A few years ago I was involved in identifying the source of
navigation instrument indicator needle swings and voice modulations in the
pilot’s headset. The culprit turned out to be a certified
airborne-authorized telephone broadcasting on a frequency which just
happened to be commensurate with a piece of [navigation] equipment.
Another case involved the Flight Guidance Computer/Air Data Computer which
was radiating unwanted signals, the 15th, 20th & 22nd harmonics of 6 & 8 MHz
clock frequencies, which are right on the 120MHz & 132MHz VHF band! But each
piece of this equipment met all the required RTCA DO-160 level testing
requirements….my experience with the FCC has taught me to wonder how many
[PED] devices transmit with a clean, zero-spur signal, especially after
being dropped, banged, klunked, fondled and sat upon. In my former FCC
investigative days, I saw a number of devices (computers, stereos, TV’s,
etc., etc.) which purportedly met FCC Part 15 requirements as indicated by
their label, but were either bogus marked, illegally imported or were just
outside the manufacturing quality bell curve. [My personal view is] that
every carry-on electronic device is suspect — until it has been
individually tested, which, of course, is impossible.
My experience suggests to me that it is nearly impossible to
predict/replicate an EMI event on an aircraft when the event involves a
portable carry-on device (PED). Location, orientation, power output,
modulation, in conjunction with ALL the other
the EMI event. And we must not exclude the terrestrial based emitters
(radars, etc) Ladkins? Conclusions
There are plentiful anecdotes of possible electromagnetic interference with
aircraft systems. While the systems are subjected to thorough bench-tests
under conditions of electromagnetic interference to demonstrate adherence to
certification standards, there appears to be no systematic process for
investigating and attempting to reproduce in-flight incidents, although the
British Airways BASIS system, ASRS and EUCARE provide systematic logging of
such reports, as one presumes do individual airlines for internal use.
Possible explanations of the lack of reproducibility of such incidents
center on the environmental differences between the `bench tests’ for
certification, in which individual subsystems are tested independently, and
the integrated aircraft environment. While entire aircraft are also
subjected to some testing during certification, there may be individual
differences between aircraft: if wiring connections are susceptible to
interference, for example, then aircraft with a longer maintenance record
may be more prone to interference incidents than brand-new ones. While there
is considerable disagreement amongst experts as to whether the phenomenon –
or phenomena — are indeed cases of electromagnetic interference from
passenger electronic devices, the call for more systematic testing appears
to be unanimous. I have argued that some change in the regulatory
environment will help. Nevertheless it appears clear that, whatever one’s
view on the reality of the phenomenon, an increasing number of reports on
correlation will continue to appear at ASRS, BASIS and EUCARE.