By Dr. Joseph Mercola
The idea that electromagnetic fields (EMFs) can impact your brain function is not new, but a recently launched investigation by the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) really highlights the reality of such concerns.
The program,1 "Impact of Electro-Magnetics on Aircrew Neurology," or ICEMAN, seeks to determine whether EMFs inside the cockpit may be causing pilots to crash. DARPA is currently accepting proposals and have allocated a budget of up to $225,000 for the research.
According to DARPA, the objective of the ICEMAN program is to "Determine if the current air combat cockpit environment impacts cognitive performance and/or physiological sensor performance; quantify the effects; and demonstrate potential mitigation strategies."2
Is Pilot EMF Exposure Causing Aviation Crashes?
As noted by DARPA,3 fighter pilots operate in a very high-EMF environment these days, and it's possible those EMFs may be causing pilots to become disoriented and confused, leading to plane crashes.4 Over the past few years, there's been a rather extraordinary string of military jet and helicopter crashes.
Back in 2018, following a series of three aviation crashes that killed five service members over the course of two days, the director of the Pentagon's joint staff tried to downplay the trend, rejecting questions suggesting military aviation was in a crisis, stating:5
"We're are going to look at each one in turn. Each one is tragic. We regret each one. We will look at them carefully. I am certainly not prepared to say that it's a 'wave' of mishaps or some form of 'crisis.'"
In 2017, 37 service members died in noncombat crashes. By April 2018, there had already been five noncombat aviation crashes that year, killing nine service members. In December 2018, six Marines died during a refueling crash off the coast of Japan.6 The pilot, who died, was accused of losing situational awareness and causing the crash due to atypical maneuvering.
Recent DARPA-funded research has demonstrated that human brains sense magnetic fields, like those used by animals for navigation, and that this process is 'jammed' (i.e., disrupted) by radio waves (RF), impacting brainwaves and behavior. ~ DARPA
As reported7 by Fox News in April 2018, there were also several additional crashes and emergency landings that year that did not result in fatalities. Several noncombat air crashes also occurred in 20198,9 and 2020.10,11,12,13,14,15 Canada has also reported unusual military aviation crashes.16
The ICEMAN Program
According to DARPA:17
"Current cockpits are flooded with radio frequency (RF) noise from on-board emissions, communication links, and navigation electronics, including strong electromagnetic (EM) fields from audio headsets and helmet tracking technologies.
Pilots often report minor cognitive performance challenges during flight, and from 1993 to 2013, spatial disorientation in U.S. Air Force pilots accounted for 72 Class A mishaps, 101 deaths, and 65 aircraft lost.
It has been hypothesized that the cockpit RF and EM fields may influence cognitive performance including task saturation, misprioritization, complacency and spatial disorientation.
However, EM fields and radio waves in cockpits are not currently monitored, little effort has been made to shield pilots from these fields, and the potential impacts of these fields on cognition have not been assessed.
Recent DARPA-funded research has demonstrated that human brains sense magnetic fields, like those used by animals for navigation, and that this process is 'jammed' (i.e., disrupted) by radio waves (RF), impacting brainwaves and behavior.
Furthermore, recent findings were the first to show that even weak RF fields and 'earth strength' magnetic fields have measurable, reproducible effects on human brainwaves and unconscious behavior in a controlled environment. Current tactical audio headsets project magnetic fields up to 10 times earth strength, the effects of which can now be measured experimentally in a similar controlled environment."
The ICEMAN project aims to determine "what effect, if any, the cockpit RF/EM environment may have on physiological sensor function and efficacy" by measuring and manipulating ambient EM and RF fields inside the cockpit to determine their effects on "brain activity, physiology, behavioral responses and physiological sensing systems." Lastly, the program seeks to determine if and how any negative effects on neurology and sense function might be effectively mitigated.
All of this is a rather extraordinary admission that EMFs have neurological and physiological effects — a claim made by many scientists involved in EMF research that has been roundly dismissed as unsubstantiated and false by the wireless industry and regulators. Yet here is DARPA, admitting research has demonstrated that RF waves impact brainwaves and behavior.
Mechanisms of Harm
Martin Pall, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of biochemistry and basic medical sciences at Washington State University, has published research18,19,20,21 showing one of the primary mechanisms by which EMFs harm your biology is through the creation of peroxynitrites, which are potent sources of oxidant stress and secondary free radicals.
Low-frequency microwave radiation activates the voltage-gated calcium channels (VGCCs) in the outer membrane of your cells, causing them to open, thus allowing an abnormal influx of calcium ions. This activates nitric oxide, which combines with superoxide to form peroxynitrite.22
These potent reactive nitrogen species are associated with an increased level of systemic inflammation and mitochondrial dysfunction, and are thought to be a root cause for many of today's chronic diseases. One of its most significant downsides of peroxynitrite is that it damages your DNA.
While your body has the capacity to repair that damage through a family of enzymes collectively known as poly ADP ribose polymerases (PARP), PARP require NAD+ for fuel, and when they run out of NAD+ they stop repairing your DNA, which can lead to premature cell death.
EMFs also damage your health in other ways. For example, the enzyme ATP synthase — which passes currents of protons into the mitochondrial intermembrane space, similar to current passing through a wire — powers the generation energy of the creation of ATP from ADP, using this flow of protons.
Magnetic fields can change the transparency of the flow of protons to the mitochondrial intermembrane space, thereby reducing the current. As a result, you get less ATP, which can have system wide consequences, from promoting chronic disease and infertility to lowering intelligence.
How EMFs Cause Neuropsychiatric Problems
In a 2016 paper,23 Pall describes how EMFs can trigger neuropsychiatric problems specifically. As mentioned, EMFs trigger the opening of VGCCs, thereby causing a chemical cascade resulting in the production of harmful peroxynitrites.