EMF & Animals: Are They Just as Sensitive to Electromagnetic Fields as We Are?

EMF & Animals: Are They Just as Sensitive to Electromagnetic Fields as We Are?

The ill-effects of human-made electromagnetic fields (EMF) aren’t just limited to humans. Studies show that the EMF from our devices, appliances, network sources and electrical infrastructure harms birds, animals, and even marine life. Let’s have a deeper look.

Effects of EMF on Birds

Like many insects, birds pollinate plants and control pests. But besides that, they’re also responsible for distributing and planting seeds that contribute to 35% of the world’s crop production.

The Importance of Birds

Birds act as an extra pair of helping hands to the farmers by removing harmful insects like caterpillars, weevils, cutworms, beetles, and flies from the fields.  It’s mainly because of them that crops grow healthily, and farmers can feed millions of people worldwide. 

Besides eating insects in the field, they also help grow new plants in the ecosystem by dispersing seeds and pollinating.

EMF Animals Birds
Not only do birds remove insects, but they also help grow new plants in the ecosystem through dispersing seeds and pollinating flowers and plants.

Certain birds, such as vultures, control the spread of deadly pathogens by consuming the dead flesh of animals in the wild. And certain species of birds produce one of nature’s best fertilizers called guano, which enriches the soil and promotes mass food production. 

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In short, a huge chunk of our food supply depends on their existence and daily efforts, which means that, in a way, birds are one of the primary reasons that life on earth is possible.

How Does EMF Affect Birds?

In 2014, National Geographic reported on the work of Prof. Henrik Mouritsen, in which he proved that the EMF pollution in our environment interferes with birds’ navigational abilities.

For his experiment, Prof. Mouritsen captured European robins and placed them inside a cage in a windowless room. Once he put the birds in there, they all tried to flee in the same direction, which is typical because birds have magnetoreception that helps them sense the earth’s magnetic field to navigate.

After some time, Mouritsen moved the birds to the University of Oldenburg, and something unusual happened there. He noticed that the birds were trying to flee in different directions this time, as if they had no sense of where they were supposed to go.

Even after altering the variables like the light’s intensity, the size and shape of the funnels, and the birds’ food, nothing changed. He later suspected that the EMFs present in his Oldenburg University lab might be interfering with their ability to sense magnetic fields.

Two years passed, and once again, Prof. Mouritsen resumed the experiment with postdoctoral researcher Nils-Lasse Schneider. And this time they came up with an idea to place the birds inside a Faraday cage.

birds emf animals
Birds in a cage shielded from EMF had their navigational abilities restored.

A Faraday cage is an enclosure made using a mesh of conductive materials like metals. This device can block electromagnetic fields, and it’s used primarily to protect EMF-sensitive objects from getting damaged.

When they placed the birds inside the Faraday cage, their sense of detecting the earth’s magnetic field seemed to return. And when the researchers removed the birds from these special cages, they once again flew in random directions.

This study demonstrates that EMF heavily impairs a bird’s ability to use magnetoreception, causing migratory birds to lose their sense of direction, eventually leading to mass extinction.

Microwave RF the Main Cause of Birds’ Decline

“Microwave and radiofrequency pollution is the main cause of decline in birds,” said biologist Alphonso Balmori in his 2009 study on the effects of EMF on wildlife.

His three-part study included birds like white stork, sparrows, and other species at a community park.

  • In his study with the white storks, he observed several nests located within 200-300 meters from cell phone base stations. At the end of this study, he found that 12 nests in the 200-meter range never had any chicks. This demonstrates that EMF affects the birds’ ability to reproduce.
  • The second part of his study included house sparrows. It included 150 point locations within six areas in the breeding season. He noticed that there were fewer sparrows in highly EMF polluted regions.
  • Finally, in the urban parks, he noticed that the bird population was significantly lower in places with nearby EMF sources than areas with less EMF exposure.

Balmori concluded the study saying, “In the light of current knowledge there is enough evidence of serious effects from this technology to wildlife. For this reason, precautionary measures should be developed, alongside environmental impact assessments prior to installation, and a ban on installation of phone masts in protected natural areas and in places where endangered species are present.”

Effects of EMF on Mammals

It’s not only birds that are affected by EMF radiation. Even though mammals don’t have magnetoreception, they too suffer from EMF-induced problems. Have a look.

EMF’s Effects on Cattle

In 1998, a farmer visited the veterinary faculty of the University of Hanover with a very unusual problem with his cows. He said that his cows were behaving abnormally ever since the installation of several network towers close to his farm.

cell phone towers cows
Researchers found that stray voltage contributed to numerous negative effects in dairy cows.

And it was not just cows. He mentioned that, since the installation, he and his family were also experiencing several health problems. They went to several hospitals but didn’t receive treatment, as no doctor could identify precisely why the members of that family were experiencing those symptoms.

The researchers in the Hanover University decided to pick up the farmer’s case and conduct a proper study to see what was going on.

The Research

A team of researchers went to the farm and conducted several experiments. As soon as they reached the farm, here’s what they saw.

  • Most cows were tearing heavily, and their cheeks were constantly wet, showing signs of chronic conjunctivitis and constant itching. Because of that, some cows were rubbing their eye areas continuously against any items in the stable within their reach. 
  • Many cows were also pushing their heads against the chest of other cows. Besides that, the animals in the stable were turning their heads away from the direction where the transmitters were located, as if it was hurting them.
  • Mother cows showed signs of extreme weakness, as they kept falling on the stable floor and couldn’t stand up.
  • The researchers then took the cows to eat feed in an open area, and as soon as they reached it, the cows hid behind an outbuilding away from the transmitting tower.

This called for more complex analysis. So, the researchers began performing fodder analysis and feeding calculations. They also did an autopsy on deceased cows, which revealed many things. After doing some more research, they had concrete evidence to conclude that the abnormal behavior in cows resulted from constant and heavy EMF exposure from the towers.

The researchers concluded the paper by saying, “The health disorders and behavioral abnormalities described in this paper as well as the results of the conducted examination point to the electromagnetic tension as the cause of the occurrences in the affected herd of dairy cows.”

Ground Currents and Farm Animals

The study I mentioned above only considers the impact of radiofrequency electromagnetic fields. But, they’re not the only thing that harms farm animals. There’s another EMF source that’s equally harmful to their health. And it’s known as ground currents.

Since your devices and appliances don’t use all the electricity coming through the cables, the remaining energy returns through a neutral wire.

Our electricity distribution systems, especially in rural regions, aren’t equipped to handle all the returning electricity. Because of this, the utility companies just dump the excess electricity in the ground.

This is a problem because the dumped electricity doesn’t just vanish away. As soon as it reaches the soil, it spreads through the conductive earth. This free-flowing electricity on the ground is called ground current pollution.

Researchers have found that, besides radiofrequency EMF from nearby network towers, ground current pollution also causes many health problems in dairy cows. You can learn more about it in my post called “Ground Current Pollution.

EMF & Pets

Unfortunately, there has not been an extensive amount of research on the effects of EMF on domestic animals, such as cats and dogs. But a study on ground currents did find an impact on these (very lovable) animals. 

The 1995 study involved a kennel in Allegan County, MI. This kennel had a population of Shetland Sheepdogs, Persian cats, German Shepherds, and Golden Retrievers. And, while they had a 12-year history of successfully producing pups, this population suddenly began demonstrating significant reproductive problems.

“Female dogs ceased cycling or had abnormal “unbreedable” seasons. Sperm checks revealed a lack of sperm in four males. Concurrently, neither the Persian nor mongrel female cats in the kennel showed signs of cycling.”

After multiple investigations, it remained unclear what the cause was of these issues. Then investigators contacted two local dairy farms, where cows were experiencing similar problems. They later determined that the reason was stray voltage in the ground. 

Besides ground current, another study from 1995 found that an increase in the levels of magnetic fields in a household increased the risk of canine lymphoma, a type of blood cancer found in dogs.

Effects of EMF on Marine Life

We often exclude marine animals when talking about EMF’s effects. And it kind of makes sense, as they live far away, deep inside the oceans, unconnected to our network sources. But the fact is EMF affects marine animals as much as it affects the animals on land. Here’s why.

We’ve already discussed magnetoreception earlier in this post. Many species of birds and bees rely on magnetoreception to navigate.

It turns out there are many species of marine life that can sense electrical signals. It’s what they use to navigate and to locate prey. Some of them are sharks, rays, sea turtles, cod, sturgeons, whales, and dolphins.

magnetoreception in marine life
Sea turtles are among the marine species that have magnetoreception.

There is a large and growing number of undersea cables that provide data connectivity worldwide. Since these cables carry electromagnetic fields, they are the source that exposes these marine animals to EMF radiation.

Studies Show

Studies say that exposure to EMF from these cables decreases the ability of marine life to use magnetoreception. This can cause them to lose their sense of location and direction. Besides that, they can confuse the signals coming from undersea cables with the signals coming from a prey, resulting in them not being able to find food.

It’s not just a theory. A 2011 research study commissioned by the United States Department of the Interior actually confirmed that the undersea optic fiber cables interfere with marine animals’ ability to navigate and identify their prey. This, in turn, causes them to consume less nutrition, resulting in lower life expectancy and problems with reproduction.

The same study also mentioned that the EMF signals interfere with the creatures’ migratory patterns, pushing them towards the verge of extinction.

A separate study commissioned by the Oregon Wave Energy Trust reached similar conclusions. They identified adverse health effects in navigation, consumption, and reproduction in multiple species of marine life. Besides that, they also found that EMF exposure causes changes in embryonic development and cellular function in these marine species.

Final Thoughts

EMF’s biological effects on animals are severe. And the constant modernization of our technology isn’t helping at all. We need to realize that, without animals on earth to do their part, human existence would either become extremely hard or maybe even impossible.

And it’s not just the animals. The way we’re moving forward and adding more powerful EMF sources to the environment is also causing numerous problems to human health. And it won’t stop until we all get together and do something about it.

So, what’s the solution here?

Well, you can begin by educating yourself on the subject and telling your friends and family about it.

I have a ton of resources on my website to help you learn more about EMF, its biological effects, and possible solutions.

Besides that, I also have a separate page that contains tips on talking to people about this subject in a way that can actually convince them to make some changes in their lives. So, give it a read – and let’s all make the choice to be a part of the solution.

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About the Author

Have a Question?
R Blank, SYB Founder

I take pride in designing great, effective products, based on real, measurable science – AND taking the time to ensure that each and every one of you has the information you need to understand EMF and make informed decisions.

So if you have a question, just email me and ask.


R Blank

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