MD, PhD, MAE, FMedSci, FRSB, FRCP, FRCPEd.

Protection against electromagnetic fields has been a topic before (see here and here). In so-called alternative medicine (SCAM) entrepreneurs have been quick to sell all sorts of ‘protective’ gadgets to the often all too gullible public. The devices are based on two main assumptions:

  1. EMF causes ill health.
  2. The device prevents this from happening.

Neither of them is correct, and the harm done by the claim is substantial. It can be measured in £ or $, because these gadgets are, of course, not cheap. Now a new type of harm is in the spotlight.

It has been reported that the Dutch authority for nuclear safety and radiation protection (ANVS) found several of these devices claimed to protect against 5G networks gave off harmful ionising radiation. It urged people not to use the products, which could cause harm in the long term.

The World Health Organization assures us that 5G mobile networks are safe, and not fundamentally different from existing 3G and 4G signals. They emit non-ionizing radio waves that do not damage DNA. But the marketers of these devices claim otherwise and many consumers believe them. This explains why there have been attacks on transmitters by people who believe 5G is harmful. The Guardian reported that, last year, 15 EU member states called on the European Commission to address a spate of conspiracy theories that had led to arson attacks against telecommunications masts.

The products identified included:

  • “Energy Armor” sleeping mask,
  • “Energy Armor” bracelet,
  • “Energy Armor” necklace,
  • Magnetix Wellness, a device for children.

Despite clear evidence that EMF protection is an expensive scam, Kim Jobst, Visiting Professor of Healthcare and Integrated Medicine Oxford Brooks University UK and former editor of the notorious JACM, stated the following about such a gadget: “Emerging evidence from early clinical, cellular and molecular studies of the effects of QLink on cardiovascular, immune and central nervous systems is startling.”

In May 2020, the UK’s Trading Standards sought to halt sales of a £339 USB stick that claimed to offer “protection” from 5G. “Anti-radiation stickers” have also been sold on Amazon. On this blog, we have discussed EMF devices that cost well over £4000.

32 Responses to IRONY OF IRONIES: Gadgets allegedly protecting us from radiation have been shown to emit harmful radiation

  • Nothing can now be believed which is seen in a newspaper. Truth itself becomes suspicious by being put into that polluted vehicle. The real extent of this state of misinformation is known only to those who are in situations to confront facts within their knowledge with the lies of the day. I really look with commiseration over the great body of my fellow citizens, who, reading newspapers, live and die in the belief that they have known something of what has been passing in the world.

    Thom Jefferson wrote this in a letter in 1807. You’re like a newspaper.

    • YOU ARE SO RIGHT!
      Personally, I trust only smoke signals.

    • The full letter is here, and context is important to its interpretation as Jefferson was referring to the newspapers in his time and day:
      https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Jefferson/99-01-02-5737

      More interesting is his opinion as to how a newspaper ought to be conducted:
      ‘by restraining it to true facts & sound principles only.’
      which sounds like an excellent description of Professor Ernsts approach to SCAM.

      • The full letter is here, and context is important to its interpretation as Jefferson was referring to the newspapers in his time and day:

        As your hero ernst would say, show us the proof that he wasn’t talking about future newspapers.

        You are obviously a shill for ernst.

        I came upon a quote from Moliere who said that most people die from the treatment and not the disease.

        That was four centuries ago from one of the most clever people on the planet at the time.

        But I’ll go with you and Ernst, two of the biggest ninnies in a much more brainwashed epoch.

        • You are playing pigeon chess. You knock the pieces over, crap on the board, and fly back to your flock to claim victory

        • Speaking of the context of quotes being important: four centuries ago that Moliere quote was true – because humanity knew way less about medicine then, and the attempts the doctors of the time made to cure people were often more deadly than just resting and hoping you got better. To assert that it is still true today, despite the many advances in science that have been made, is an entirely separate claim that lacks good support.

        • I’m not sure about the photonic shepherd’s medical care, but I think that the quality of medical care I get is quite a lot better than what would have been offered to Molière (1622-1673).

        • I came upon a quote from Moliere who said that most people die from the treatment and not the disease.
          That was four centuries ago from one of the most clever people on the planet at the time.

          Clever doesn’t mean he can see four centuries into the future. Instead of acting like a bloviating moron, provide evidence that Moliere was talking about treatments that came four centuries later.

    • @le_berger_des_photons
      Please enlighten me if I do not fully understand, but what do your rather cryptic comments have to do with the fact that products being sold as ‘anti-radiation’ actually are radiation sources?

    • If you meant that as a parody well done indeed. The irony is hilarious.

  • This is quite a bizarre story. Aside from the fact that 5G uses non-ionising radiation which is harmless, and these devices apparently emit ionising radiation, which is anything but, radioactive material is quite difficult to get hold of.

    I would be very interested to know what kind of radiation source they contain. According to the ANVS web site, they emit a low level of radiation so the risk to health is small, but which would exceed the radiation dose limit in Holland for a member of the general public if worn continuously for a year. I am not sure what this limit is, but in the UK it is 15mSv (millisieverts) in any one year, which is equivalent to 150 chest x-rays, 10 x-rays of the lumbar spine, or two CT scans of the abdomen and pelvis (or one scan with and withough contrast).

    They also mention the possibility of noticing reddening of the skin adjacent to where the devices are worn. This suggests a much higher local radiation dose; dose limits generally refer to the total dose to the body, but the effect is different if it is all concentrated at one site. A high enough dose to cause reddening of the skin can also cause permanent scarring, cataracts if the lens of the eye is irradiated and reduced fertility if it is the testicles (somebody daft enough to buy one of these things in the first place might well be worried enough about the effect of 5G radiation on their reproductive health and wrap it around their scrotum)

    This is what the ANVS has to say about it (in the original Dutch):
    https://www.autoriteitnvs.nl/actueel/nieuws/2021/12/16/heeft-u-een-quantum-pendant-anti-5g-hanger-of-negatief-ionen-sieraad-of-slaapmasker-leg-deze-veilig-weg

    This is the same site after going through Google Translate:
    https://www-autoriteitnvs-nl.translate.goog/actueel/nieuws/2021/12/16/heeft-u-een-quantum-pendant-anti-5g-hanger-of-negatief-ionen-sieraad-of-slaapmasker-leg-deze-veilig-weg?_x_tr_sl=nl&_x_tr_tl=en&_x_tr_hl=en&_x_tr_pto=sc

    It makes sense to me so I think it is a reasonably good translation.

    • The radioactive material is primarily thorium oxide, a weak alpha emitter(*), but its decay chain also includes beta and gamma emitters. This YouTuber analysed these radioactive ‘negative ion’ products already a year ago: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C7TwBUxxIC0
      Apparently, there are even radioactive bed sheets and shirts being sold.

      *: Which further adds to the irony (and the scam) because alpha particles are of course positive ions, not negative ones.

      And oh, about fear-mongering with regard to 5G: unfortunately, some people not only believe those ‘harmful radiation’ myths, but even decide to set fire to cell phone towers – two more went up in flames here only last week.

  • Here in Glastonbury we have the local town council spreading misinformation about 5G and advocating devices such as these. It’s like living in the dark ages here sometimes!

  • Perhaps it is a good idea to alert consumer authorities and the media in other countries to this problem, as a cursory search shows that these ‘negative ion’ products are sold ubiquitously, with some even specifically targeted at children:
    https://www.magnetic-jewellery.net/product-page/kids-magnetic-bracelet-smiley-with-negative-ions
    https://magnetix-wellness.com/en/colourful-silicone-bracelet-for-children-with-negative-ions-black-coloured-612i

    It is of course uncertain whether or not these particular products contain radioactive materials, but they’re made by the same manufacturer that sells other radioactive ‘negative ion’ products, so there is a high risk that these items are also laden with thorium.
    I think that parents would really like to know that those ‘health products’ they make their kids wear are anything but healthy, and may even cause cancer in the long term. This also goes to show once again that pseudoscience and quackery are not harmless at all.

  • Your faith that EMF has no effect on health is a very contentious point unless you believe unquestioningly the Telecomm industry which has been trying to persuade us of this point since the beginning and dominates the media. The Telecomm industry says, Well it doesnt heat you up enough to obviously kill cells or damage dna immediately, so it must be harmless.

    It frankly doesnt make sense. Cellular activity is electrical activity. For example neurons rely on the propagation of an electrical potential. There are scientists who have come up with mechanisms by which harm does occur. https://bioinitiative.org lists over 1,800 papers on the subject. One way EMFs affect cells is by increasing the Calcium levels in the cells to unhealthy levels which increases the levels of free radicals which can damage the DNA.

    Most protective devices boost the Schumann frequency which is the extremely low frequency produced naturally in the earth’s atmosphere, so that the cells resonate more strongly with it, than with the artificial EMF frequencies. How effective they are I dont know. But most of them do not produce any ionizing radiation.

    • Most protective devices boost the Schumann frequency

      Roger. The only thing these devices boost is the bank balance of the hucksters who peddle them.

      Do you have any idea what the wavelength of Schumann resonances is, and how large something would need to be to influence them?

      Your ongoing demonstrations of pomposity, scientific ignorance and grandiose self-delusion remain quite startling.

      • Well a cell phone operating in the 800 MHz band is sending and receiving frequencies that have wavelengths in the neighborhood of 37cm. They didnt even have cell phones that big in the 80’s 😉 So obviously they have developed ways to reduce the size of and bend and fold antennas to do that. Maybe these “hucksters” have found a way to do that with Schumann wave frequencies. But of course you are too grandiose, arrogant, self-deluded and pompous to inquire, cuz you know everything.

        And Bjorn, I am quite clear that y’all are totally ineducable about homeopathy.

        • Well a cell phone operating in the 800 MHz band is sending and receiving frequencies that have wavelengths in the neighborhood of 37cm. They didnt even have cell phones that big in the 80’s

          Well done, Roger. You managed to look that up.

          So obviously they have developed ways to reduce the size of and bend and fold antennas to do that.

          Yes, Roger. They’re called dipoles. They work at half the wavelength around 18.5 cm. The ones used in mobiles are normally offset-fed meandered fat dipoles. The body of the phone is part of the aerial.

          Strange how you didn’t want to look that up.

          Maybe these “hucksters” have found a way to do that with Schumann wave frequencies.

          You still don’t know what Schumann resonances are or what their wavelength is do you, Roger? Their wavelenth is the circumference of the Earth, Roger. 40,000km.

          Strange how you didn’t want to look that up, either.

          Now possibly, in defiance of all know science, people have found ways of folding a 20,000 km dipole into a pocket-held device. Or possibly they’re hucksters, as I stated. Occam’s Razor applies.

          You might want to look that up as well.

          But of course you are too grandiose, arrogant, self-deluded and pompous to inquire, cuz you know everything

          I believe I have demonstrated that there is only one person in this discussion who has demonstrated that he is too grandiose, arrogant, self-deluded and pompous to inquire, because he is stupid enough to blindly accept any claims which appear to prop up his hapless delusions of significance.

          And Bjorn, I am quite clear that y’all are totally ineducable about homeopathy.

          See my previous paragraph, Roger. Run along, now.

          • And yes, I am aware of the size of the Schumann frequency wavelength. I didnt say that I accepted their theories. I have no belief either way. I said that you arent interested in really investigating them because you are too arrogant for that, same with your ignorant attitude about homeopathy. Easier to just stick with your limited mechanistic paradigm and dismiss something that you havent investigated, based on your preconceptions. Ok Lenny go fug off.

          • There’s some backtracking going on there, Rog! Steady on old boy!

            I know it’s harsh when nasty, reductive reality pisses all over your faith-based beliefs but sometimes you do have to move on.

    • If there is one thing normally gifted persons learn from following this blog, it is that the number of papers published on a subject does not substantiate its veracity. But we already knew “Roger” is uneducable.

    • @Roger

      Your faith that EMF has no effect on health is a very contentious point …

      The notion that electromagnetic fields [from cell phones and Wi-Fi] have no effect on health is NOT based on ‘faith’, but on solid science. Electromagnetic fields have been the subject of an enormous amount of scientific study for well over a century now, and it is very clear that non-ionizing EM radiation (anything below UV-B) cannot cause damage, except through heating effects.

      Telecomm industry which has been trying to persuade us of this point since the beginning and dominates the media.

      Ah, yes, the telecommunication industry has dominated the media from the early 1900’s onward … Just like the pharmaceutical industry has dominated the medical world for well over a century now, right?
      Hint: conspiracy nonsense is the final resort of the stupid, when they can’t make their point with actual facts or science – usually because they don’t know what they’re talking about.

      For example neurons rely on the propagation of an electrical potential.

      Yes, and science knows exactly what potentials are involved in triggering and propagating a so-called action potential: 15 and 110 millivolts respectively over the rest potential (~ -70 mV). This 15 mV trigger potential must be built up over a membrane with a thickness of approximately 10 nm. This would require a local electrical field strength of ~1.5 million volts per meter. To put this into perspective: this is a million times stronger than the average field strength produced by older cell phones, and 10 to 100 million times stronger than newer generation wireless technology.
      Then there is this thing called frequency: nerve cells operate by moving positive ions of sodium, potassium and calcium. These ions are slow, even on the nanometre scale of neuron membranes; even Na+/K+ action potentials typically take a few milliseconds to build up and decay again. Ca2+ potentials are even way slower.
      Practically speaking, any external field with a frequency over ~100 kHz is too fast to have any effect on neurons, simply because the ions involved are way too sluggish to move and thus cause a current to flow. This principle is also used in so-called electrosurgical knives, which operate with frequencies in the 500 kHz range: the high electrical field gradient and associated concentration of energy destroys tissue and cauterizes blood vessels at the point of contact, but causes no damage or adverse effects in the rest of the body, despite the fact that voltages up to 10,000 volts and currents up to 1 ampere may be used (which are absolutely deadly at lower frequencies).
      Lastly, there is this property called ‘resistance’, which impedes the flow of current, and causes electrical energy to be dissipated as heat. Once again, one would need a huge electrical field strength to cause any adverse effects.

      https://bioinitiative.org lists over 1,800 papers on the subject

      So what? PubMed lists over 6,200 papers on homeopathy, many of which claim positive results. This does not change the fact that homeopathy is useless quackery. Most of those papers are Tooth Fairy science, searching for mechanisms that may explain negative health effects caused by EMF, but without first proving that those purported negative health effects exist in the first place. Which they don’t.

      Just think about it: if EMF from cell phones etc. would cause any health issues, then those health issues would show up clearly in epidemiological data from the year 2000 onwards, beginning in lower age groups. Because around that time, cell phones became widely adopted by literally hundreds of millions of mostly younger people within a few years. And lo and behold: no clear trend break in any health metric is observed at that point in history, except maybe behavioural effects (more close-up screen time, less exercise, contributing to myopia and obesity).

      Anyway, this is mostly off-topic, because even if ‘cell phone radiation’ would have real health effects, then that still would not mean that all these anti-radiation products are any good. So far, there is only one way to shield oneself from electromagnetic radiation, and that is called a Faraday cage. All other products are 100% scams.

      • Brilliant summary of the situation, Richard – do you mind if I use this on a blog?

        If only you had been at that Glastonbury town council meeting where they decided to adopt the ‘precautionary principle’ and will be attempting to stop 5G coming to the town. Four of the scientific advisers they brought in (as stooges, basically) left the committee in protest at the pseudoscientific nonsense and the lack of willingness to listen to real world truths.

        And just the other day local nut-jobs vandalised a defibrillator because they thought it was “5G”! God help us.

        All the best,

        Niall

        • Hi Niall,
          Thank you for the compliment! Yes, feel free to use my information and comments in your blog(*).

          A similar thing as in Glastonbury happened in South Africa in 2009: https://mybroadband.co.za/news/wireless/11099-massive-revelation-in-iburst-tower-battle.html
          “What Craigavon residents were unaware of is that the tower had already been switched off in early October – six weeks before the November meeting where residents confirmed the continued ailments they experienced.”

          So one would say that this was conclusive evidence that this cell phone tower could not possibly have caused the residents’ symptoms, so this was the end of it.

          However, never underestimate the stubbornness of people once they get an idea into their head: even though proven completely and utterly wrong, the residents still insisted that the cell phone tower had to go. If anything, they significantly stepped up their efforts to this extent, even going as far as to start a lawsuit to have the tower removed, still for reasons of ‘health damage’. At which point the provider decided to throw in the towel and indeed removed it. (No doubt to erect another one just around the corner …)

          And now we have a similar situation with 5G, and perhaps even worse, as anti-5G sentiments are spread far and wide very effectively, mostly though social media. As a result, complete idiots here in the Netherlands are even setting fire to cell phone towers – towers that are not even upgraded with 5G equipment yet. The latest incident of this kind only happened two weeks ago.

          *: I am what you might call an expert on the subject, in several ways (biomedical electronics engineering, specialized in interaction between EM and organisms – and also highly interested in reports about electromagnetic hypersensitivity and the likes).

          • And oh, if you wish to refer to some more scientific data on the effects of high-frequency EMF on people, there’s this huge cohort study involving 40,000 soldiers 40 years after being exposed to really high levels of electromagnetic radiation from radar equipment, often for extended periods of time (up to several years): https://academic.oup.com/aje/article/155/9/810/58192

            These ‘irradiated’ people turned out to have an overall lower mortality rate(*) than the average Joe Sixpack who stayed home.

            This of course does not mean that EMF is actually beneficial. It suggests that being in the military is a relatively healthy lifestyle, with lots of exercise and healthier food.

            *: The only exception was leukaemia incidence among air plane technicians – caused by the X-rays these people were exposed to when servicing circuits with high-voltage vacuum tubes (the first colour televisions also had X-ray warnings inside for the exact same reason).

      • Here are a couple papers based on the INTERPHONE studies.

        Mobile telephones and cancer–a review of epidemiological evidence
        “Nevertheless, all studies approaching reasonable latencies found an increased cancer risk associated with mobile phone use. Estimates of relative risk in these studies vary between 1.3 and 4.6 with highest overall risk for acoustic neuroma (3.5) and uveal melanoma (4.2), and there is evidence for enhanced cancer risk with increasing latency and duration of mobile phone use.”

        The Intracranial Distribution of Gliomas in Relation to Exposure From Mobile Phones: Analyses From the INTERPHONE Study
        “Similar to earlier results, we found a statistically significant association between the intracranial distribution of gliomas and the self-reported location of the phone. When we accounted for the preferred side of the head not being exclusively used for all mobile phone calls, the results were similar. ”

        Risk of brain tumours in relation to estimated RF dose from mobile phones: results from five Interphone countries
        “A complementary analysis in which 44 glioma and 135 meningioma cases in the most exposed area of the brain were compared with gliomas and meningiomas located elsewhere in the brain showed increased ORs for tumours in the most exposed part of the brain in those with 10+ years of mobile phone use.”

        And this study:

        Microtubular structure impairment after GSM-modulated RF radiation exposure
        “Three-hour radiation exposure significantly altered microtubule structure regardless of the electric field strength. Moreover, on the third post-exposure day, three-hour radiation significantly reduced cell growth, regardless of field strength. The same was observed with two-hour exposure at 20 and 30 V/m. In conclusion, 915 MHz GSM-modulated RF radiation affects microtubular proteins in a time-dependent manner, which, in turn, affects cell proliferation.”

        Mobile phone use didnt become ubiquitous until the late 1990’s and 2000’s and it takes 20 years or more for cancers to appear.

        When you do a homeopathic proving I will be interested in what you say on the topic.

        It appears that reality doesnt conform to your theoretical conceptions.

        • Roger,

          “A complementary analysis in which 44 glioma and 135 meningioma cases in the most exposed area of the brain were compared with gliomas and meningiomas located elsewhere in the brain showed increased ORs for tumours in the most exposed part of the brain in those with 10+ years of mobile phone use.

          So this paper shows that prior exposure to mobile phones INCREASES the overall response rate of gliomas to treatment? Doesn’t that mean that we should all be using them more, not less?

        • @Roger
          The studies you mention all suffer from the same raft of problems and limitations:
          – They all show correlation at best, not causation.
          – They rely on self-reporting of past behaviour, which is notoriously unreliable and bias-prone (recall bias).
          – Study designs feature multiple outcome metrics – which almost guarantees that one or more has a significant result.
          – There is no apparent dose-response relation – which is a big red flag, since virtually all cancers with known causes do show dose-response behaviour.
          – Correlation only becomes apparent when taking long latencies into account – which is another red flag, because virtually all cancers with known causes exhibit a shorter latency in high-exposure groups.
          – Outcomes differ per (western) country, regardless of cell phone use. From what I can find, glioma incidence has remained stable in the US between 1985 and 2018, but shows a 20% increase in the Netherlands, yet a significant decrease in the UK. Glioblastoma shows a significant increase in the UK, but a decrease in Sweden. Etc etc..
          – By far the highest brain cancer incidence is still found in the 70-85 age group – a group with a relatively low exposure in the early days of rising cellphone use. So age appears by far the dominant risk factor.
          – No attempt was made to account for confounding variables. E.g. intensive use of cell phones and smartphones is associated with other behavioural patterns such as less exercise, which may have a health impact. Increased fine dust exposure is another possible confounder, especially in urban and industrialized environments. Chronic stress may be yet another factor, as this is known to increase glioma cell growth and proliferation.

          In all, there is no good evidence for a causal link between cell phone use and increased cancer risk. This of course doesn’t meant that such a link does not exist – but if it does, the effects of cell phone use are still expected to be tiny compared to baseline incidences.

          When you do a homeopathic proving I will be interested in what you say on the topic.

          Sorry, but I must be honest here: I am too biased to be able to take part in a homeopathic proving, not least because I consider ‘proving’ an exponent of stupidity in an already rather dumb system of belief. Whatever healthy people experience after ingesting sugar crumbs or shaken water says absolutely nothing about any therapeutic effects in sick people. As an example: I just now tried recalling my state of mind and body over the past few days to see if I could remember any ‘unusual’ sensations – and lo and behold, I can come up with at least half a dozen things that a homeopath would consider ‘symptoms’, but which I can attribute to either chance or mundane causes, such as a more intensive social interaction and an unusual amount of food on Christmas day.

          However, I might be tempted to help design a proper study(*) to test the hypothesis that homeopathic preparations have no significant effect on individual people’s conditions – but the problem is that such a study requires co-operation from both homeopaths and their customers, and I am pretty certain that no homeopath will join such a study, if only because it will almost certainly show that their belief system is indeed that: a belief system, without any therapeutic effects beyond placebo.
          And even if I could find a couple of dozen homeopaths and at least a hundred of their customers willing to participate, the whole thing would involve serious amounts of work and money to do properly.

          *: By which I mean a proper double-blind randomized controlled trial of the effects of individually prescribed homeopathic preparations on people with minor ailments. I have a pretty good idea how to set this up and carry this out, but it will involve a lot of work and probably tens of thousands of dollars in costs.

          • Why dont you first do the proving yourself for a couple weeks and then we could discuss taking it further. Conventional medicine seems to think it is ok to experiment on the sick. Homeopaths treat the sick and run proving experiments on the healthy.

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