How information gets to a smartphone is a complex mystery to most people.
But for retired biochemistry Professor Martin Pall, it’s imperative to our health that we learn more, especially as the U.S. and other advanced countries roll out fifth-generation cellular wireless, or 5G.
On Wednesday, Pall will deliver the talk “5G: What the Wireless Industry Doesn’t Want You to Know” at the University of Idaho Law School Courtroom in Moscow. It’s a controversial topic, with claims of ignorance on both sides of the issue.
Many see 5G as a positive advancement for society. Communications transform with each generational upgrade. Snapchat, Uber and video calls became widely used after 4G was established. 5G is anticipated to enable the Internet of Things, a system of interconnected devices sharing information — from self-driving cars to toothbrushes.
On the other side of the 5G issue are those urging caution. They say the health risks from wireless radiation are not fully understood and that we have no reason to believe that 5G is safe. 5G will require placing of thousands of additional antennas throughout cities to transmit more information than ever before. Pall, who retired from Washington State University in 2008, is firmly on this side.
“We have to stop 5G,” he said in an interview Tuesday. “We don’t have to give up all the advantages of these technologies. We simply need to do them much more safely than we are now.”
After retiring, Pall moved to Portland and began researching how electromagnetic fields (EMFs) affect the body. EMFs are invisible energy waves. The sun sends out EMFs; so do microwaves, power lines, Wi-Fi routers, Bluetooth devices and smartphones.
After reviewing past studies, Pall came up with a hypothesis that EMFs cause nonthermal changes in the body through calcium channels in cells. However, safety standards for cellphone radiation and Wi-Fi devices established by the U.S. Federal Communications Commission and the industry are based on thermal effects. They don’t take into account nonthermal changes, he said. It is his belief that these guidelines fail to protect us from biological effects that are occurring at levels thousands of times lower than the established standards.
There are a large number of different, nonthermal effects of cellphone radiation and Wi-Fi that have been documented in various review articles, Pall said.
Among them are rapid changes in male and female sexual reproduction, although male reproduction appears to be the most sensitive. At least 25 different review articles also have shown neurological and psychological effects, he said.
“We have evidence, mainly from EEG studies. We know the impact of Wi-Fi on people’s brains. The peculiar thing about this, for example, is that we have seen in schools all over the U.S. and in Canada and in Europe, that when they introduce Wi-Fi in schools you have all kinds of problems with the students, including increased suicide rates, and nobody is paying attention to this,” Pall said.
He published his first paper on how EMFs produce health impacts on the body in 2013. Since then, he has lectured around the U.S. and internationally about the topic.
“My research has been entirely dependent on other people’s research,” Pall said. “There’s been extraordinary research that’s been done in these areas. Almost none of it has come out of the U.S. The reason for that is that government funding for this area of research dried up between 1986 and 1999. It’s been almost impossible to get funding. The only funding is from the industry, which of course has a huge conflict of interest.”
It’s not only humans Pall is concerned about, but also animals and plants, which he says are being affected on a cellular level as well. According to research he’s found, documented effects include sudden cardiac death in birds and neuropsychiatric effects, like aggressive behavior and panic attacks in cattle, in one specific case.
According to his hypothesis about calcium metabolism, EMFs could affect plants by causing them to produce large amounts of highly flammable terpenes. This leads him to conclude that 5G could increase fire danger worldwide.
“I think a lot of the fire problems we have in California and other places have been caused by EMFs and not just by climate change, which has been the main argument in the media,” he said.
He understands that many people are skeptical of his conclusions.
“Skepticism is an essential part of science. I expect people to be skeptical. I think it takes awhile to consider these issues. Having said that, I’ve given 58 invited professional talks. You don’t get those kinds of invitations unless a lot of people are convinced these things are real,” he said. “Science is very slow to adopt new paradigms, and this is a new paradigm for EMFs.”
People from the wireless industry are his biggest critics, but that is to be expected, he said.
“They have to do that because they’re a house of cards. They have to attack me. They’re absolutely virulent in their attacks. If they had the science, they would use the science, but they don’t so they use personality attacks.”
Pall’s Moscow talk is organized by the Palouse Environmental Sustainability Coalition and Palouse Area Citizens for Safe Electricity.
IF YOU GO
WHAT: “5G: What the Wireless Industry Doesn’t Want You to Know.”
WHEN: 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 5.
WHERE: University of Idaho Law School Courtroom, 911 S. Rayburn St., Moscow.