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Treatment Research And NeuroSCience Evaluation of NeuroDevelopmental Disorders.

Posted on March 13, 2020 at 8:10 AM

Treatment Research And NeuroSCience Evaluation of NeuroDevelopmental Disorders

December 12, 2015

Montgomery County Schools

Carver Educational Services Center

850 Hungerford Drive

Rockville, MD 20850

cc Montgomery County City Council

Dear Montgomery County School District,

I am a pediatric neurologist and neuroscientist on the faculty of Harvard Medical School and on

staff at the Massachusetts General Hospital. I am Board Certified in Neurology with Special

Competency in Child Neurology, and Subspecialty Certification in Neurodevelopmental Disorders.

I have an extensive history of research and clinical practice in neurodevelopmental disorders,

particularly autism spectrum disorders. I have published papers in brain imaging research, in

physiological abnormalities in autism spectrum disorders, and in environmental influences on

neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism and on brain development and function.

A few years ago I accepted an invitation to review literature pertinent to a potential link between

Autism Spectrum Disorders and Electromagnetic Frequencies (EMF) and Radiofrequency

Radiation(RFR). I set out to write a paper of modest length, but found much more literature than I

had anticipated to review. I ended up producing a 60 page single spaced paper with over 550

citations. It is available at http://www.bioinitiative.org/report/wp-

content/uploads/pdfs/sec20_2012_Findings_in_Autism.pdf and it was published in a revised and

somewhat shortened form in two parts in the peer reviewed indexed journal Pathophysiology

(2013)with the title: Áutism and EMF? Plausibility of a pathophysiological link.” Please also see the

appendix to this letter which contains a summary of this material and includes substantial scientific

citations.

HARVARD MEDICAL SCHOOL

Martha R. Herbert, Ph.D., M.D.

Assistant Professor, Neurology

Director, TRANSCEND Research Program

www.transcendresearch.org

transcend@partners.org

MASSACHUSETTS

GENERAL HOSPITAL

Martinos Center for Biomedical Imaging

149 13th Street, Room 10.043

Charlestown (Boston), Massachusetts

02129

martha.herbert@mgh.harvard.edu

https://connects.catalyst.harvard.edu/prof

iles/display/Person/47629


 

Treatment Research And NeuroSCience Evaluation of NeuroDevelopmental Disorders

More recently I published an article entitled “Connections in Our Environment: Sizing up

Electromagnetic Fields,” in Autism Notebook Spring 2015 edition in which I summarized and

personalized the information in the . In this article I describe how here is a whole series of

problems at the cellular, sub-cellular and metabolic levels and immune levels that have been

identified in autism. And interestingly, for every single one of those problems, there’s literature

about how EMFs can create those kinds of problems.

The argument I made in these articles is not that EMF is proven to cause autism, but rather, that

EMF can certainly contribute to degrading the physiological integrity of the system at the cellular

and molecular level” – and this in turn appears to contribute to the pathogenesis/causation not only

of autism but of many highly common chronic illnesses, including cancer, obesity, diabetes and

heart disease.. Please see this article on page 24-25 at the link

http://virtualpublications.soloprinting.com/publication/?i=252361

In fact, there are thousands of papers that have accumulated over decades –and are now

accumulating at an accelerating pace, as our ability to measure impacts become more sensitive –

that document adverse health and neurological impacts of EMF/RFR. Children are more vulnerable

than adults, and children with chronic illnesses and/or neurodevelopmental disabilities are even

more vulnerable. Elderly or chronically ill adults are more vulnerable than healthy adults.

Current technologies were designed and promulgated without taking account of biological impacts

other than thermal impacts. We now know that there are a large array of impacts that have nothing

to do with the heating of tissue. The claim from wifi proponents that the only concern is thermal

impacts is now definitively outdated scientifically.

Radiofrequency electromagnetic radiation from wifi and cell towers can exert a disorganizing effect

on the ability to learn and remember, and can also be destabilizing to immune and metabolic

function. This will make it harder for some children to learn, particularly those who are already

having learning or medical problems in the first place. And since half of the children in this country

have some kind of chronic illness, this means that a lot of people are more vulnerable than you

might expect to these issues.

Powerful industrial entities have a vested interest in leading the public to believe that EMF/RFR,

which we cannot see, taste or touch, is harmless, but this is not true. Please do the right and

precautionary thing for our children.

I urge you to opt for wired technologies in Montgomery County classrooms, particularly for those

subpopulations that are most sensitive. It will be easier for you to make a healthier decision now

than to undo misguided decisions later.

Thank you.

Martha Herbert, PhD, MD


 

Treatment Research And NeuroSCience Evaluation of NeuroDevelopmental Disorders

Selected pertinent publications

Connections in our Environment: Sizing up Electromagnetic Fields by M.R. Herbert (published in

Autism Notebook Spring 2015, pp.. 24-25) reviews in two pages key points of the more technical

Herbert & Sage Autism-EMF paper

Herbert, M.R. and Sage, C. “Autism and EMF? Plausibility of a Pathophysiological Link”. Part 1:

Pathophysiology , 2013, Jun;20(3):191-209, epub Oct 4, PMID 24095003. Pubmed abstract for Part

1. Part II: Pathophysiology, 2013 Jun;20(3):211-34. Epub 2013 Oct 8, PMID 24113318. Pubmed

abstract for Part II.

APPENDIX: MORE DETAILED SUMMARY OF THE PATHOPHYSIOLOGY

I became interested in the health and brain effects of electromagnetic frequency (EMF) and

radiofrequency radiation (RFR) exposures in relation to my brain research because I was

interested in how such exposures might alter brain function. In order to familiarize myself in

more detail existing literature on the pathophysiological impacts of EMF/RFR, I coauthored a

40,000 word chapter in the 2012 update of the Bioinitiative, 1 and published an updated

30,000 word version of that paper (“Autism and EMF? Plausibility of a Pathophysiological Link”) in 2013 in two parts in the peer reviewed journal Pathophysiology. 2, 3 My intention

was to assess the plausibility of an association between increasing incidence of autism

spectrum disorder and increasing EMF/RFR exposures. Rather than directly address the

epidemiological issues, I looked at the parallels between the pathophysiological features

documented in autism and the pathophysiological impacts of EMF/RFR documented in the

peer-reviewed published scientific literature.

I will include here a brief summary of the paper (prepared for a lay audience) of the features

of EMF/RFR that I reviewed (with citations at the end of this letter):

x EMF/RFR stresses cells. It lead to cellular stress, such as production of heat shock

proteins, even when The EMF/RFR isn’t intense enough to cause measurable heat

increase. 4-6 x EMF/RFR damages cell membranes, and make them leaky, which makes it hard for

them to maintain important chemical and electrical differences between what is

inside and outside the membrane. This degrades metabolism in many ways – makes

it inefficient. 7-15

x EMF/RFR damages mitochondria. Mitochondria are the energy factories of our cells.

Mitochondria conduct their chemical reactions on their membranes. When those

membranes get damaged, the mitochondria struggle to do their work and don’t do it

so well. Mitochondria can also be damaged through direct hits to steps in their

chemical assembly line. When mitochondria get inefficient, so do we. This can hit our

brains especially hard, since electrical communication and synapses in the brain

demands huge amounts of energy.

x EMF/RFR creates “oxidative stress.” Oxidative stress is something that occurs when

the system can’t keep up with the stress caused by utilizing oxygen, because the

price we pay for using oxygen is that it generates free radicals. These are generated

in the normal course of events, and they are “quenched” by antioxidants like we get

Treatment Research And NeuroSCience Evaluation of NeuroDevelopmental Disorders

in fresh fruits and vegetables; but when the antioxidants can’t keep up or the

damage is too great, the free radicals start damaging things.

x EMF/RFR is genotoxic and damages proteins, with a major mechanism being

EMF/RFR-created free radicals which damage cell membranes, DNA, proteins,

anything they touch. When free radicals damage DNA they can cause mutations.

This is one of the main ways that EMF/RFR is genotoxic – toxic to the genes. When

they damage proteins they can cause them to fold up in peculiar ways. We are

learning that diseases like Alzheimer’s are related to the accumulation of mis-folded

proteins, and the failure of the brain to clear out this biological trash from its tissues

and fluids.

x EMF/RFR depletes glutathione, which is the body’s premier antioxidant and

detoxification substance. So on the one hand EMF/RFR creates damage that

increases the need for antioxidants, and on the other hand they deplete those very

antioxidants.1, 16

x EMF/RFR damages vital barriers in the body, particularly the blood-brain barrier,

which protects the brain from things in the blood that might hurt the brain. When

the blood-brain barrier gets leaky, cells inside the brain suffer, be damaged, and get

killed. 1, 16, 17

x EMF/RFR can alter the function of calcium channels, which are openings in the cell

membranes that play a huge number of vital roles in brain and body. 18-27

x EMF/RFR degrades the rich, complex integration of brainwaves, and increase the

“entropy” or disorganization of signals in the brain – this means that they can

become less synchronized or coordinated; such reduced brain coordination has been

measured in autism. 28-40

x EMF/RFR can interfere with sleep and the brain’s production of melatonin. 41-43

x EMF/RFR can contribute to immune problems. 44-50

x EMF/RFR contribute to increasing stress at the chemical, immune and electrical

levels, which we experience psychologically. 51-57 17, 58-62 63-68

Please note that:

1. There are a lot of other things that can create similar damaging effects, such as

thousands of “xenobiotic” substances that we call toxicants. Significantly, toxic

chemicals (including those that contain naturally occurring toxic elements such as

lead and mercury) cause damage through many of the same mechanisms outlined

above.

2. In many of the experimental studies with EMF/RFR, damage could be diminished by

improving nutrient status, particularly by adding antioxidants and melatonin. 69-72

I understand that the concept of electromagnetic hypersensitivity is not always well

understood in the medical and scientific communities. Indeed, the inter-individual variability

is perplexing to those who would expect a more consistent set of features.

But given the range of challenges I have listed that EMF/RFR poses to core processes in

biological systems, and given the inter-individually variable vulnerability across these

symptoms, it is really not surprising that there would be subgroups with different

combinations of symptom clusters.

It also appears to be the case that the onset and duration of symptoms or even brain

response to EMR/RFR can be variable. This again is to be expected given the mediation of

these symptoms through a variety of the above-listed pathophysiological processes, many

of which differ in scale (ranging from molecular to cellular to tissue and organ) and time

course of impact. The different parts of the body also absorb this energy differently, both

Treatment Research And NeuroSCience Evaluation of NeuroDevelopmental Disorders

because of their biophysical properties and as a function of their state of health or

compromise thereof.

Here is a list of subgroups of symptom clusters identified by a group of German physicians, t

exemplifies these variability issues:

Group 1 no symptoms

Group 2 sleep disturbance, tiredness, depressive mood

Group 3 headaches, restlessness, dazed state, irritability, disturbance of concentration,

forgetfulness, learning difficulties, difficulty finding words

Group 4 frequent infections, sinusitis, lymph node swellings, joint and limb pains, nerve

and soft tissue pains, numbness or tingling, allergies

Group 5 tinnitus, hearing loss, sudden hearing loss, giddiness, impaired balance, visual

disturbances, eye inflammation, dry eyes

Group 6 tachycardia, episodic hypertension, collapse

Group 7 other symptoms: hormonal disturbances, thyroid disease, night sweats, frequent

urge to urinate, weight increase, nausea, loss of appetite, nose bleeds, skin

complaints, tumors, diabetes

CITATIONS

1. Herbert MR, Sage C. Findings in autism spectrum disorders consistent with electromagnetic

frequencies (emf) and radiofrequency radiation (rfr). BioInitiative Update. 2012

2. Herbert MR, Sage C. Autism and emf? Plausibility of a pathophysiological link - part i. Pathophysiology.

2013;20:191-209

3. Herbert MR, Sage C. Autism and emf? Plausibility of a pathophysiological link - part ii. Pathophysiology.

2013;20:211-234

4. Blank M. Electromagnetic fields. Pathophysiology. 2009;16 (2-3)

5. Blank M. Evidence for stress response (stress proteins) (section 7). The BioInitiative Report 2012: A

Rationale for a Biologically-based Public Exposure Standard for Electromagnetic Fields (ELF and RF).

2012:http://www.bioinitiative.org/table-of-contents/

6. Evers M, Cunningham-Rundles C, Hollander E. Heat shock protein 90 antibodies in autism. Mol

Psychiatry. 2002;7 Suppl 2:S26-28

7. Desai NR, Kesari KK, Agarwal A. Pathophysiology of cell phone radiation: Oxidative stress and

carcinogenesis with focus on male reproductive system. Reprod Biol Endocrinol. 2009;7:114

8. Phelan AM, Lange DG, Kues HA, Lutty GA. Modification of membrane fluidity in melanin-containing

cells by low-level microwave radiation. Bioelectromagnetics. 1992;13:131-146

9. Beneduci A, Filippelli L, Cosentino K, Calabrese ML, Massa R, Chidichimo G. Microwave induced shift of

the main phase transition in phosphatidylcholine membranes. Bioelectrochemistry. 2012;84:18-24

10. El-Ansary A, Al-Ayadhi L. Lipid mediators in plasma of autism spectrum disorders. Lipids Health Dis.

2012;11:160

11. El-Ansary AK, Bacha AG, Al-Ayahdi LY. Plasma fatty acids as diagnostic markers in autistic patients from

saudi arabia. Lipids Health Dis. 2011;10:62

12. Chauhan A, Chauhan V, Brown WT, Cohen I. Oxidative stress in autism: Increased lipid peroxidation

and reduced serum levels of ceruloplasmin and transferrin--the antioxidant proteins. Life Sci.

2004;75:2539-2549

13. Pecorelli A, Leoncini S, De Felice C, Signorini C, Cerrone C, Valacchi G, et al. Non-protein-bound iron and

4-hydroxynonenal protein adducts in classic autism. Brain Dev. 2012:epub.

14. Ming X, Stein TP, Brimacombe M, Johnson WG, Lambert GH, Wagner GC. Increased excretion of a lipid

peroxidation biomarker in autism. Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids. 2005;73:379-384

15. Yao Y, Walsh WJ, McGinnis WR, Pratico D. Altered vascular phenotype in autism: Correlation with

oxidative stress. Arch Neurol. 2006;63:1161-1164

16. Herbert MR, Sage C. Autism and emf? Plausibility of a pathophysiological link, parts i and ii.

Pathophysiology. In press ......... https://phpa.health.maryland.gov/OEHFP/EH/Shared%20Documents/CEHPAC/Doctor%20Letters%20on%20Wi-Fi%20In%20School%20%20Full%20Compilation%20.pdf


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