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MindNet Journal - Vol. 1, No. 61a * [Part 1 of 2 parts]
V E R I C O M M / MindNet "Quid veritas est?"
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Editor: Mike Coyle
Assistant Editor: Rick Lawler
Research: Darrell Bross
I am usually reticent to express my personal opinions about
a paper such as this. It seems, to me, to be better to just let
the information speak for itself and allow the reader to come to
their own opinion about its veracity. However, the following
article about GWEN, obviously written by the government agency
that is responsible for its creation, is such an egregious
example of disinformation, obfuscation, and selective
referencing, that I feel I owe my subscribers a comment and
The serious, and adverse health effects associated with exposure
to even low-levels of RFR, which are largely discounted by this
article, are well documented as a result of laboratory
experiments, case history studies, and statistical studies done
by many scientists and doctors. Below you will find a few
excerpts from this article followed by rebuttals that directly
contradict these excerpts.
"A number of so-called "nonthermal" effects have been described
in the scientific literature in connection with RFR exposure of
laboratory animals and animal tissue at levels equal to or less
than 0.4 W/kg (EPA 1986). These effects, involving the cellular,
hematologic, reproductive, nervous systems, and others, are
summarized in a review by Cahill and Elder (1984). The
significance of these effects for public health is not clear,
partly because the mechanisms responsible for them are not
"...DARPA at the Institute for Defense Analysis...`certain events
presumed to the threatening to the national interest served as
the basis for ARPA's support for Project Pandora', and funds were
given to Walter Reed [Medical Research Institute] early in 1965
`to evaluate the threat since it appeared to have strong
behavioral and biomedical implications'...`cytogenic and
histological studies of the brain suggested that comparable
energies were damaging tissue'
- _The_Zapping_of_America_ by Paul Brodeur, 1977, pg. 123.
"_Cataracts_. It has been asserted in newspapers and other popular
media that microwaves potentially cause cataracts. Scientific
studies have indicated that microwaves can cause cataracts in
experimental animals, but only if incident continuous-wave power
densities are high..."
"...the case received prominent mention in the bureau's [Bureau
of Radiological Health] 1969 annual report to Congress. When
Carpenter described it a the fifth annual symposium of the
International Microwave Power Institute, which was held in
Scheveningen, in the Netherlands, on October 7, 1970, he stated
that it provided a `unique example of bilateral cataracts
resulting from low-level microwave radiation.'"
- _The_Zapping_of_America_ by Paul Brodeur, 1977, pg. 68.
"_Birth Defects_. Birth defects (technically, teratogenesis) and
developmental abnormalities after birth are always of public
concern... Teratogenic studies associated with RFR have used a
variety of animal models. The results indicate that a threshold
of heat induction or temperature increase must be exceeded
before teratogenic effects are produced. For the SARs associated
with human exposure to GWEN RFR, there would be no detectable
heating, so birth defects would be extremely unlikely."
"That microwave radiation might have genetic effects had first
been discovered back in 1959 by Dr. John H. Heller...at the New
England Institute for Medical Research, in Ridgefield Conn., who
observed gross chromosomal abnormalities in garlic-root tips that
had been irradiated with microwaves at power levels far below
those necessary to produce heat...in August 1975, members of
Electromagnetic Radiation Management Advisory Council, OTP, &
DoD met to review the findings of research pertaining to the
genetic, hereditary, growth, and developmental effects of
microwave and radio-frequency radiation, they learned that in
eight out of fifteen projects low-level radiation had produced
effects and changes in the test animals or genetic material."
- _The_Zapping_of_America_ by Paul Brodeur, 1977, pg. 90.
"_Endocrine System Effects_. Exposure of animals to RFR has
produced... There do not appear to be any effects clearly
demonstrated to be associated with nonthermogenic stimulation of
the endocrine system or the associated parts of the CNS."
"Soviet investigators also turned up a great number of endocrine
responses to radio-frequency radiation, including increased
thyroid activity, slight enlargement of the thyroid gland,
sterility, and decreased lactation in nursing mothers."
- _The_Zapping_of_America_ by Paul Brodeur, 1977, pg. 37.
I could go on and on, but I think you see my point. Please keep
this in mind as you read this document. I have also included
below a few references excerpted from _Cross_Currents_ by Dr.
Robert O. Becker that document the adverse effects of RFR.
Aurell, E., and Tengroth, B. _Acta_Ophthalmologica_ 51
(1973):764. Report that microwaves can produce cataract at
nonthermal levels and can damage the retina itself.
Birge, R., et al. _Journal_of_the_American_Chemical_Society_
109(1987):2090. Report that certain chemicals in the retina
absorb microwaves to a high degree.
Delgado, J.M.R., et al. _Journal_of_Anatomy_ 134 (1982):533.
Reports on developmental defects in chick embryos exposed to
various ELF frequencies.
Garfinkel, I., and Savokhan, B. _Annals_of_the_New_York_Academy_
_of_Sciences_ 381 (1982):I. Report that the incidence of brain
tumors rose between 1940 and 1977.
Heller, J.H., and Teixeira-Pinto, A.A. _Nature_ 183 (1959):905.
First report on the production of chromosomal abnormalities
by fields at 27 MHz.
Liboff, A, _Science_ 223 (1984):818. Report that a wide range
of frequencies in the ELF-VLF range could increase the rate
of DNA synthesis in dividing cells.
GROUND WAVE EMERGENCY NETWORK (GWEN)
Document courtesy of Julianne McKinney,
Electronic Surveillance Project.
Ground Wave Emergency Network (GWEN)
3.11.1 Definition of Resource
Aspects of the GWEN program that might affect the health of
the general public residing in the vicinity of GWEN facilities or
potentially exposed to GWEN operations are related to exposure to
radio frequency radiation (RFR). All radio transmission antennae
are sources of RFR. The GWEN system would generate RFR from a
299-foot, low-frequency (LF) antenna and an ultrahigh-frequency
(UHF) antenna located at each relay node (RN) station, and from a
UHF antenna located at each input/output (I/O) station.
The oscillation of current and voltage in a transmitting
antenna results in the radiation of an outward-traveling field,
or electromagnetic wave. By encoding information into this wave,
messages can be transmitted to a receiving station in a manner
analogous to AM, FM, and TV broadcasting and reception. The
electromagnetic wave consists of an electric field, the E-field,
and a magnetic field, the H-field. These electromagnetic waves
constitute the RFR.
The region beyond the distance of a few wavelengths of any
transmission is known as the far field. The wavelengths for GWEN
LF transmissions range from 1.7 to 2 kilometers; thus, the far
field refers to the region beyond several kilometers from the RN
stations. The region within a few wavelengths of the
transmitting antenna is referred to as the near field. The
electromagnetic field within this region is more complicated than
in the far field. In addition to the primary propagating wave,
there are nonpropagating fields which tend to dominate the near
field. Because these nonpropagating fields decrease rapidly with
distance, they become insignificant in the far field.
3.11.2 Issues and Concerns
Although RFR is referred to as radiation, it does not cause
ionization and should not be confused with radiation from
radioactive sources. In general, RFR is associated with
electromagnetic waves with frequencies ranging from
approximately 10 kilohertz (kHz) to 300 gigahertz (GHz).
Electromagnetic waves with higher frequencies than radio waves
are, in ascending order of frequency, infrared waves, visible
light, ultraviolet waves, X-rays, and gamma rays.
Electromagnetic waves propagate energy in "packets" called
photons. The energy of a photon is directly proportional to the
frequency of the radiation. When the photon energies equal or
exceed the binding energies of electrons to atoms, the radiation
is capable of ionizing atoms and breaking electron bonds in
biomolecules, thereby disrupting biochemical processes and
causing genetic and other damage in biological organisms.
Ultraviolet waves, X-rays, and gamma rays, are ionizing. However,
the photon energies associated with the highest radio frequencies
are several orders of magnitude lower than the weakest chemical
bonds and they cannot ionize atoms or disrupt chemical bonding.
Thus, RFR is nonionizing and does not create the same effect
as radiation generated by radioactive sources. Its primary effect
in biological organisms is to agitate molecules, that is,
generate heat. At intensities that fall within present exposure
standards, the rate of heat generation is negligible or is within
the thermoregulatory capabilities of mammals and birds.
There have been reports of some cases of accidental
occupational exposure to RFR intensities that exceed present
safety limits. In addition, the Environmental Protection Agency
(EPA) has found that levels of field intensities in the FM and
TV-broadcast bands exceed present exposure limits at certain
sites that are accessible to the general public. Because of these
few cases, some members of the public may perceive that there is
a high risk associated with RFR regardless of intensity or
frequency. Public concerns are centered on the potential for
effects on humans due to both long- and short-term exposure to
RFR at GWEN frequencies and exposure levels. These concerns may
include the potential for shock hazards, birth defects, and
3.11.3 Regulatory Setting
No federal, state, county, or municipal regulations exist for
RFR exposure in the GWEN LF band (150 to 175 kHz). In July 1986,
as part of its charge under federal law to develop RFR protection
guides, the EPA published proposed alternatives for controlling
public exposure to RFR and requested written comments. Other
national and international agencies have published guidelines for
_American_National_Standards_Institute_ (ANSI) has set safety
levels for human exposure to RFR in the frequency range of 300
kHz to 100 GHz (ANSI, 1982), ANSI concluded that the reliable
evidence of hazardous effects on animals is associated with
whole-body-average specific absorption rates (SAR) above 4
watts/kilogram (W/kg) in animals. Using a safety factor of 10,
the exposure limit was set at 0.4 W/kg. Since SAR is
frequency-dependent in a manner that is species-specific, the
power density limits that correspond to 0.4 W/kg vary with
frequency. At resonant frequencies for humans (see section
126.96.36.199), this value of SAR corresponds to a power density of 1
milliwatt per square centimeter (mw/cm2). This limit on power
density was specified for the frequency range of 30 to 300 MHz
to include all possible resonant conditions for humans. The
limit on power density for frequencies below this range can be
increased inversely as the second power of the frequency while
still maintaining a limit of 0.4 W/kg on the SAR. However,
because there's a potential for shock and burns at high power
densities, the ANSI subcommittee limited the power density to 100
mw/cm2 for frequencies below 3 MHz, extending down to 300 kHz.
Using the assumption of plane waves, this power density limit
corresponds to an E-field intensity of 632 volts per meter (V/m)
and to an H-field intensity of 1.58 amperes per meter (A/m).
While the ANSI standard would limit the SAR value to 0.4 W/kg
averaged over the whole body, it allows a spatial peak (local)
value of 8 W/kg averaged over any one gram of tissue. SARs,
power densities, and squares of field intensities are averaged
over any 6-minute period. The ANSI subcommittee did not provide
any guidance for frequencies below 300 kHz; therefore, ANSI does
not cover the GWEN LF band. The ANSI standard is applicable to
the control of occupational and non-occupational exposures.
provides interim guidelines on limits of exposure (IRPA 1984).
While IRPA's occupational limits at resonance are the same as
ANSI's, the limit for the general population is based on a safety
factor of 50 relative to 4 W/kg, or 5 relative to 0.4 W/kg. The
whole-body average SAR is limited to 0.08 W/kg, which
corresponds to a power density of 0.2 mw/cm2 in the range of
human resonant frequencies. The limit on the local SAR for the
general population is reduced to 0.8 W/kg. As with the other
standards, the power density limit rises as the frequency
decreases from resonance. The limit for exposure to the public
in the 100 kHz to 1 MHz frequency range is a power density of 2
mw/cm2, with corresponding limits to E-field and H-field
intensities set at 87 V/m and 0.23 A/m, respectively. These
limits would apply to the GWEN LF transmissions.
(NCRP 1986) recently recommended RFR limits for the public.
These limits are similar to IRPA's limits for the public in that
they use the same safety factor to limit whole-body average SARs
to 0.08 W/kg and local SARs to 1.6 W/kg. For frequencies below
1.34 MHz, the NCRP limits the power density to 100 mw/cm2, which
is higher than the IRPA limit but the same as the ANSI limit. The
NCRP does not provide guidance for frequencies below 300 kHz;
therefore, their standards do not cover the GWEN LF band.
_EPA_ (1986) has Proposed three alternatives for limiting
public exposure to RFR. Two alternatives are similar to the other
standards: limiting whole-body-average SARs to either 0.4 W/kg or
0.08 W/kg for frequencies above 3 MHz. The third alternative
(EPA option 1) is the most restrictive, as it limits whole-body
average SARs to 0.04 W/kg for frequencies above 3 MHz. Below 3
MHz this option would limit E-field intensity to 87 V/m and
H-field intensity to 0.23 A/m. While this option is more
restrictive than the IRPA standard for frequencies greater than 3
MHz, it is equal to the IRPA standards for lower frequencies. The
EPA proposal does not specify limits on local SAR values, but it
does note that the exposure limit under its option I will
substantially reduce local heating effects of RF body currents
by keeping the local SAR to less than 4 W/kg.
3.11.4 Approach to Analysis
In order to assess possible RFR biological hazards, the
pertinent literature on electric shock, radio frequency (RF)
burns; and bioeffects related to absorbed energy was reviewed.
Findings that might be relevant to GWEN frequencies were
evaluated by comparing the RF intensity levels studied to actual
measured levels at GWEN facilities. The objective of the analysis
was to determine the extent of the zone around an RN's antenna
base that would need to be controlled in order to prevent public
exposure to RFR levels that exceed safety standards.
3.11.5 Data Sources
The present level of knowledge regarding biological effects of
RFR was reviewed in an EPA report by Elder and Cahill (1984) and
a report prepared for the USAF School of Aerospace Medicine
(USAFSAM) by Heynick and Polson (1983). The latter report was
updated and expanded by Heynick (1986) and will be reissued.
Information is also summarized by Polk and Postow (1986), Elder
(1986), and in the EPA announcement of the proposed alternative
guidelines for RFR protection (EPA 1986). Two recent reports
prepared for USAFSAM document possible hazards in the frequency
range of 10 kHz to 3 MHz, which brackets the GWEN LF antenna
frequencies (Gandhi et al. 1985; Guy and Chou 1985).
3.11.6 Existing Conditions
The potential health effects to humans associated with
exposure to RFR can be divided into two major categories:
Electric shock and RF burns resulting from contact between
grounded people and ungrounded objects. Bare feet on wet ground
would provide maximum grounding. Footware (shoes) reduce the
level of grounding and provide some measure of protection. The
analysis below assumes an individual who would be fully
A wide range of effects resulting from the energy absorbed by
188.8.131.52 Electric Shock and RF Burns
Electric shock and RF burns can occur because of voltages
induced by RFR below 3 MHz, and particularly below 200 kHz, in
ungrounded conductive objects, such as vehicles, fencing, metal
roofing, and guy wires. When an individual that is electrically
grounded makes contact with an ungrounded conductive object in
an RF field, currents may then flow through the individual's
body. The amount of current flow depends on how well the
individual is electrically grounded, the impedance between the
ungrounded object and the individual, and the voltage and charge
of the object induced by the RF field.
At low-intensity RF fields, a grounded individual might
experience a tingling or warm feeling in the fingers, hands,
wrists, or ankles when in contact with an ungrounded conductive
object. At higher field intensities, an individual might
experience an electric shock as contact was made with the
ungrounded object. Electric shock can also result when an
ungrounded individual in a high-intensity RF field comes into
contact with a grounded object. If the flow of current is large
enough, it can cause localized heating of body tissue resulting
in an RF burn. RF burns can also be caused by direct contact
with an RF source (e.g., an antenna) or an uninsulated
transmission line. Direct contact with a GWEN antenna is
discussed under system safety.
Two independent groups of researchers have recently studied
the shock hazard from objects in RF fields with frequencies of
10 kHz to 3 MHz (Guy and Chou 1985; Gandhi et al. 1985). The
results were based on actual measurements at RF antennae and
experimental measurements on several hundred subjects. Since the
shock hazard is due to the electric, rather than magnetic,
component of RF fields, thresholds were stated in terms of the
intensity of the E-field. Perception thresholds corresponded to
the mean lowest current (measured in a laboratory experiment) at
which the subjects reported any sensation at all, usually mild
tingling or pricking at frequencies below 100 kHz and faint
warmth at higher frequencies. The pain thresholds corresponded
to the mean lowest current at which the subjects reported a very
uncomfortable sensation and did not want to continue touching the
electrode. Chatterjee et al. (1986) believe that the cause for
sensations at frequencies above 100 kHz is an increased energy
density, or SAR, in the hand or wrist.
For the frequency range of the GWEN LF antenna (150 to 175
kHz), Gandhi et al. (1985) and Chatterjee et al. (1986)
calculated perception thresholds for grounded 10-year-old
children in finger contact with large ungrounded metallic objects.
These thresholds were 65 V/m for a fork-lift truck, 120 V/m for a
van, and 250 V/m for a 50-foot section of fence. Calculated
perception thresholds for electrically grounded adults touching
those objects were about 40 percent higher.
Calculated perception and pain thresholds for persons in
grasping contact were higher than for persons in finger contact.
For example, the perception threshold for a 10-year-old child in
grasping contact with a van was 430 V/m, as opposed to 120 V/m
for finger contact. However, Chatterjee et al. (1986) report
that perception thresholds for a tapping contact with the finger
was about 10 percent lower than for continuous finger contact.
Also, they report that, for frequencies greater than 100 kHz, a
continuous contact at the perception threshold produced a
sensation of pain within 10 to 20 seconds.
In addition to causing perception or pain, the flow of current
through the body could be sufficiently high to produce some
damage to tissues. Gandhi et al. (1985) addressed this by
calculating the E-field required to produce a whole-body-average
SAR of 0.4 W/kg and a local SAR of 8 W/kg of a grounded
individual in grasping contact with a van. These SAR values are
the limits set by ANSI and are a factor of 10 below those that
cause harmful effects. Gandhi et al. determined that, at GWEN
frequencies, an E-field of 300 V/m would be required to produce a
whole-body-average SAR of 0.4 W/kg, and 95 V/m would be required
to produce a local SAR of 8 W/kg in the wrist of a 10-year-old
child; these values would be about 40 percent higher for adults.
Gandhi et al. (1985) also considered the flow of current
through a grounded individual not in contact with a metallic
object or in the vicinity of one. They calculate that at GWEN
frequencies, the E-field required to produce a whole-body average
SAR of 0.4 W/kg would be 9,000 V/m, and the E-field required to
produce a maximum local SAR (in the ankle) of 8 W/kg would be
These calculations of the E-field intensities required to
produce the specific SAR values reported were based on the
assumption that the RFR is continuously emitted. When the RFR is
not continuously emitted, the SAR values will be lower for the
same E-field, or, conversely, the E-field must be higher to
produce the same SAR. This is the case for GWEN, which broadcasts
with a duty cycle of 28 percent. Since SAR is proportional to the
square of the E-field intensity, the continuous E-field values
given by Gandhi et al. may be divided by the square root of 0.28
to yield discontinuous E-field values for application to GWEN.
Therefore, the GWEN E-field required to produce a local SAR of 8
W/kg in the wrist of a child in grasping contact with the van
would be 180 V/m. (This value is well below the perception
threshold for a child in grasping contact.) The GWEN E-field
required to produce a local SAR of 8 W/kg in the ankle of an
adult not in contact with a metallic object would be 3,780 V/m.
The GWEN E-field required to produce the IRPA limit of 0.8 W/kg
for a local SAR would be 1,195 V/m.
[Continued to part 2]
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