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The Study That Started It All! EMF Hazards – EMF/RF Radiation Induced Birth Defect Abnormalities in Embryos.

UPDATE 2014: The BabySafe Project, a new public awareness initiative designed to inform women about wireless radiation exposure and pregnancy. If you missed the June 3rd press conference, you can watch the video here.

I am convinced that the Neural Tube Defect (NTD) that took the life of my daughter Angel Leigh Coates in 1995 was attributed to EMF exposure. I founded a few years later in 1998 when it became clear not enough was being done to protect our children and educate the public about this invisible killer.  This nightmare of reality was due to my wife’s occupational environment – where Tamara spent most of her day in front of three 5 watt microwave radios.

Two years after the loss of my child, many studies on EMF’s and birth defects started to paint a very clear picture for the need to avoid radiation from industrial equipment and powerful hand held microwave devices like cell phones.

Among many other studies, the team of scientists in CUA’s laboratories exposed about 3000 chicken embryos to EMFs. They found that: Steady, oscillating EMFs increase the rate of neural abnormalities in chicken embryos by a factor of approximately 2.5. (Figure 30)

Fig. 30: EMF-induced abnormalities in chicken embryos. (Farrell et al, 1997)

cellphone radiation birth defects
EMF-induced abnormalities in chicken embryos. (Farrell et al, 1997)

Pictures (a)-(d) show normal, unexposed embryos following a 48 hour incubation. The spinal cord is the “tail” of the embryo, and the neural tube inside this appears completely normal; so does the developing brain. Picture (h) is a transverse section at the level of the hindbrain for embryo (a) as indicated by line (h) in picture (a). This brain is normal.

Pictures (e)-(g) and (i) show neural tube and brain defects induced by electromagnetic fields. In (e)-(g) arrows indicate neural folds of open neural tubes in the spinal cord. This is an abnormality known in humans as spina bifida. The hindbrain shown in (i) of embryo (g) is abnormal – totally flattened – compared to the normal brain shown in (h).

There is a biochemical explanation to this. EMFs significantly change the activity of the important growth enzyme ODC (also related to cancer), making the availability of the enzyme inappropriate at critical stages in the development of the embryos. For example, during neurolation (formation of the neural tube) the activity of the enzyme is too little, causing the incomplete closure of the neural tube on the chicken embryos shown above!

Birth defects are the single leading cause of infant mortality in the United States. Two common defects of the central nervous system contribute substantially to this total. These defects are Spina Bifida and Anencephaly which are defects of neural tube closure or Neural Tube Defects (NTDs).  NTDs are malformations of the developing brain and spinal cord and have an average prevalence rate of NTDs is 1 per 1,000.  They are caused by a failure in the process of neural tube closure. Under normal conditions, the nervous system forms a closed tube after 4 weeks of gestation. But for unknown reasons, sometimes the neural walls do not fuse. This can result in both major or minor birth defects.

This issue of EHM includes two papers that reviewed what is known about the relationship between environmental and occupational exposures and NTDs. In both papers, the authors are clear that the cause of NTDs is unknown but that certain risks factors have been identified including demographic factors like, place of residence, sex, ethnic group and family history, socioeconomic class, diet, and occupational and environmental exposures.

The second study, conducted by researchers from the University of Nijmegen in the Netherlands, identified several occupations where parents appear to have a higher risk of having an offspring with a NTD. These include mothers employed in industry, transport, and communication; and fathers employed as, printers, plastic production workers, those working in the food, beverage, and textile processing industries and those exposed to low-level radiation. Overall, the authors of both studies found evidence that exposure to EMFs are associated with an increased incidence of NTDs.


About RF Safe: Protecting Yourself from Radiofrequency Radiation

RF Safe is an online resource dedicated to providing education and solutions to reduce exposure to radiofrequency (RF) radiation from wireless devices. The website was founded by John Coates in 1998, long before the widespread use of cell phones, with the aim of raising awareness about the potential health risks associated with RF radiation exposure.

The Inspiration Behind RF Safe

The inspiration for RF Safe was personal for John, as his daughter passed away from a rare birth defect that had a strong similarity to the results of a 1997 study showing EMF-induced neural tube defects (NTDs). John believes that similar exposure levels during fetal development due to high occupational EMF exposure may have caused this tragic outcome. He founded RF Safe a quarter of a century ago to provide a platform for people to learn about the risks and take proactive steps to reduce their exposure to RF radiation.

RF Safe’s Mission

RF Safe’s mission is to provide education and solutions for reducing exposure to RF radiation and to promote awareness about the potential health risks associated with RF radiation exposure. The website offers a wide range of products, including cell phone radiation shielding technologies and educational resources, as well as information on how to reduce RF radiation exposure.

Key Study that Inspired John to Start RF Safe

One of the key studies that inspired John to start RF Safe was a 1997 study conducted by J.M. Farrell, T.L. Litovitz, and others, which was published in Bioelectromagnetics. The study found that exposure to weak magnetic fields increased the rate of morphological abnormalities in chick embryos, specifically neural tube defects (NTDs). The results showed a statistically significant increase in the abnormality rate in MF-exposed embryos.

The RF Safe Score: A Game Changer for Consumers

In 2023, Quanta X Technology LLC, owner of the RF Safe trademark, introduced a new feature to its online resource, the RF Safe Score. This innovative tool allows consumers to easily assess the level of RF radiation emitted by their wireless devices and make informed decisions about how to reduce their exposure. The RF Safe Score takes into account factors such as the distance between the device and the body, the duration of use, the specific type of device, and the age of the user. With the RF Safe Score, users can compare the radiation levels of different devices and make more informed choices about which ones to use and how to use them safely.

The Importance of Awareness and Education

With the ever-increasing use of wireless devices, it is more important now than ever to be aware of the potential health risks associated with RF radiation exposure and to take steps to reduce exposure. RF Safe is dedicated to providing the information and technology people need to do just that. The website encourages people to look for studies that the industry may have attempted to conceal and question the reasons behind such efforts to water down scientific debate with haphazard assumptions of safety.


In conclusion, RF Safe is a valuable resource for individuals who are concerned about the potential health risks associated with exposure to radiofrequency (RF) radiation from wireless devices. Founded by John Coates in 1998, RF Safe is dedicated to providing education and solutions to reduce exposure to RF radiation and to raise awareness about the potential health risks. With the introduction of the RF Safe Score, consumers now have a powerful tool to assess the level of RF radiation emitted by their wireless devices and make informed decisions about how to reduce their exposure. RF Safe’s mission is to provide the information and technology needed to protect individuals from the potential harm of RF radiation exposure, and it is a reliable source for those who want to take proactive steps to reduce their exposure.


In John’s own words..

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