Wireless radiation harms wildlife, say scientists

How do electromagnetic fields affect the natural world? 

There are decades of research showing harmful effects and it’s time to do something about it, say B. Blake Levitt, Henry Lai and Albert Manville in a paper published in late November.

“Many non-human species have highly specific vulnerabilities to anthropogenic EMF due to unique physiology that depend upon, and constantly use, the Earth's static geomagnetic fields for seasonal migration/orientation, nest/den building, mating, reproduction, offspring care, food finding, territorial defense, simple daily/seasonal circadian rhythms, and even longevity and survivorship”, the authors say.

They provide some fascinating examples such as these.

  • The heads of sharks contain conductive, jelly-filled canals for sensing external electrical signals.

  • The duck-billed platypus has thousands of sensors on its bill for detecting electrical signals.

  • Electric fish emit electric fields and detect electric fields of other fish.

  • The abdomens of honeybees contain magnetite which reacts to external electromagnetic fields.

  • The retinas of some animals (migratory songbirds, fruit flies, etc.) contain proteins called cryptochromes that respond to magnetic fields. Some plants also contain cryptochromes.

  • The Monarch butterfly has magnetite in its antennae and contains cryptochromes.

Not surprisingly, many species of living creatures, as well as plants, are affected by exposure to electromagnetic fields. “Mice and rats have been the primary animal species used in research, but also rabbits, dogs, cats, chickens, pigs, non-human primates, amphibians, insects, nematodes, various microbes, yeast cells, plants, and others. Effects have been seen in all taxa, in various frequencies, intensities, and exposure parameters,” the authors wrote.

Among these effects is genetic damage. “[G]enotoxic effects have been seen in land-based, aerial, aquatic, and plant species at very low intensity RFR (radiofrequency radiation) exposures far below ICNIRP/IEEE/FCC guidelines.” These are the guidelines on which the standards of many countries, including Australia, are based.

The authors provide examples of how electromagnetic fields harmed various species. Particularly concerning are the effects on bees, which play such an important role in pollination and, therefore, the food chain.

They write, “Some RFR effects seen in bees include: significant inhibitory effects on sensory olfactory excitability and short term memory impairment after 24-h WiFi-router exposure; induced worker piping—the sound that initiates swarming behavior in colonies, or as a warning/distress signal—that demonstrated 900-MHz GSM is a stressor to bees; reduced motor activity and changes in biomolecules in the body; reduction of worker bees and reduced egg laying by queens exposed to cell phone radiation; reduced hatching and altered pupal development after cell phone radiation exposure; decrease in comb weight and delayed return or hive abandonment after exposure to DECT phone radiation; changes in carbohydrate, lipid, and protein concentrations in the body with cell phone radiation exposure; and increased mortality with exposure to HF (13.56 MHz) and UHF (868 MHz) RFR. RFR has also been implicated in colony collapse disorder.”

The authors point out that international guidelines and standards, which are written with only humans in mind, do not provide any protection for wildlife and plants. Some species will be more at risk from exposure than others. For example, 5G could be devastating to insects because its smaller wavelengths resonate with the size of their bodies. Moreover, with the rapid evolution of technology, they do not have time to adapt.

What should be done?

The authors suggest that action is needed to prevent many species becoming extinct. They say, “Long-term chronic low-level EMF exposure guidelines, which do not now exist, should be set accordingly for wildlife; mitigation techniques where possible should be developed; full environmental reviews should be conducted prior to the licensing/buildout of major new technologies like 5G; and environmental laws/regulations should be strictly enforced.” 

Levitt B. Blake, Lai Henry C., Manville Albert M., Low-level EMF effects on wildlife and plants: What research tells us about an ecosystem approach, Frontiers in Public Health, VOL 10, 2022,  DOI=10.3389/fpubh.2022.1000840 (open access)

This paper follows a lengthy 3-part series on the same subject by these authors published in 2021:


  • Levitt BB, Lai HC, Manville AM. Effects of non-ionizing electromagnetic fields on flora and fauna, part 1. Rising ambient EMF levels in the environment. Rev Environ Health 37(1):81-122, 2021. (open access)

  • Levitt BB, Lai HC, Manville AM. Effects of non-ionizing electromagnetic fields on flora and fauna, Part 2 impacts: how species interact with natural and man-made Rev Environ Health 37(3):327-406, 2021. (open access)

  • Levitt BB, Lai HC, Manville AM. Effects of non-ionizing electromagnetic fields on flora and fauna, Part 3. Exposure standards, public policy, laws, and future directions. Rev Environ Health. 37(4):531-558, 2021. doi: 10.1515/reveh-2021-0083. Print 2022 Dec 16.

Christmas suggestions

  • Don’t give friends and families wireless devices that add to their exposure.

  • Do give them gift that will keep them safe, such as our:

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