(See the end of this post for additional resources.)

Risk to pollinators from anthropogenic electro-magnetic radiation: Evidence and knowledge gaps
Vanbergen AJ, Potts SG, Vian A, Malkemper EP, Young J, Tscheulin T. Risk to pollinators from anthropogenic electro-magnetic radiation (EMR): Evidence and knowledge gaps. Sci Total Environ. 2019 Aug 7;695:133833. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2019.133833.

• Anthropogenic electromagnetic radiation (light, radiofrequency) is perceived to threaten pollinators and biodiversity.
• Potential risks are artificial light at night (ALAN) and anthropogenic radiofrequency electromagnetic radiation (AREMR).
• We assessed the quantity and quality of evidence, and the level of consensus, to distil key messages for science and policy.
• ALAN can alter pollinator communities and functions, although this remains to be well established.
• Evidence of AREMR impacts is inconclusive due to a lack of high quality, field-realistic studies.
• Whether pollinators and pollination face a threat from the spread of ALAN or AREMR remains a major knowledge gap.

Worldwide urbanisation and use of mobile and wireless technologies (5G, Internet of Things) is leading to the proliferation of anthropogenic electromagnetic radiation (EMR) and campaigning voices continue to call for the risk to human health and wildlife to be recognised. Pollinators provide many benefits to nature and humankind, but face multiple anthropogenic threats. Here, we assess whether artificial light at night (ALAN) and anthropogenic radiofrequency electromagnetic radiation (AREMR), such as used in wireless technologies (4G, 5G) or emitted from power lines, represent an additional and growing threat to pollinators. A lack of high quality scientific studies means that knowledge of the risk to pollinators from anthropogenic EMR is either inconclusive, unresolved, or only partly established. A handful of studies provide evidence that ALAN can alter pollinator communities, pollination and fruit set. Laboratory experiments provide some, albeit variable, evidence that the honey bee Apis mellifera and other invertebrates can detect EMR, potentially using it for orientation or navigation, but they do not provide evidence that AREMR affects insect behaviour in ecosystems. Scientifically robust evidence of AREMR impacts on abundance or diversity of pollinators (or other invertebrates) are limited to a single study reporting positive and negative effects depending on the pollinator group and geographical location. Therefore, whether anthropogenic EMR (ALAN or AREMR) poses a significant threat to insect pollinators and the benefits they provide to ecosystems and humanity remains to be established.

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Oct 31, 2018

EKLIPSE Project: Electromagnetic fields threaten wildlife

Implications for 5G deployment

A new report found that
electromagnetic fields emitted by power lines, Wi-Fi, broadcast and cell towers
pose a “credible” threat to wildlife, and that 5G (fifth generation cellular
technology) could cause greater harm.

The analysis of 97 peer-reviewed studies
by the EKLIPSE project concluded
that electromagnetic radiation (EMR) is a potential risk to insect and bird
orientation and to plant health.
The report concluded that: 
  • EMR represents a potential risk to the orientation or movement of
    invertebrates and may affect insect behavior and reproduction;
  • bird orientation can be disrupted by weak magnetic fields
    in the radiofrequency range, and the same may be true for other vertebrates
    including mammals; and
  • EMR exposure may affect plant metabolism due to production of reactive oxygen species often resulting in
    reduced plant growth.
  • Moreover, there is “an urgent need to strengthen the
    scientific basis of the knowledge on EMR and their potential impacts on
The review was conducted by a
multidisciplinary, expert steering group composed of four biologists/ecologists
who specialized in different taxonomic groups, and two physicists who study electromagnetic
fields. This technical report represents the first step in an analysis of currently
available knowledge and future research needs.
The reviewers pointed out the need for more high quality research. They rated the quality of 82 studies–56 had good
to excellent biologic or ecologic quality, and 39 had good to excellent
technical quality.
EKLIPSE (Establishing a European Knowledge and Learning Mechanism to Improve the Policy-Science-Society Interface on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services) is funded by the European Union to answer
requests from policy makers and other societal actors on biodiversity-related
Malkemper EP, Tscheulin T,
VanBergen AJ, Vian A, Balian E, Goudeseune L (2018). The impacts of artificial
Electromagnetic Radiation on wildlife (flora and fauna). Current knowledge
overview: a background document to the web conference. A report of the EKLIPSE
project. http://bit.ly/Eklipseoverview
Goudeseune L, Balian E, Ventocilla
J (2018). The impacts of artificial Electromagnetic Radiation on wildlife
(flora and fauna). Report of the web conference. A report of the EKLIPSE
project. http://bit.ly/EKLIPSEconfreport

The EKLIPSE review was conducted at the request of Buglife, the only European organization devoted to the conservation of invertebrates. Invertebrates are vitally important to humans and other life forms which could not survive without them; yet, thousands of species are declining, and many are heading towards extinction. 

According to a news story in The Telegraph:
“… the charity Buglife warned that despite good evidence of the harms there was little research ongoing to assess the impact, or apply pollution limits.
The charity said ‘serious impacts on the environment could not be ruled out’ and called for 5G transmitters to be placed away from street lights, which attract insects, or areas where they could harm wildlife.
Matt Shardlow, CEO of Buglife said: ‘We apply limits to all types of pollution to protect the habitability of our environment, but as yet, even in Europe, the safe limits of electromagnetic radiation have not been determined, let alone applied.
There is a credible risk that 5G could impact significantly on wildlife, and that placing transmitters on LED street lamps, which attract nocturnal insects such as moths increases exposure and thereby risk.
Therefore we call for all 5G pilots to include detailed studies of their influence and impacts on wildlife, and for the results of those studies to be made public.’
Buglife called for 5G transmitters to be moved away from street lights where insects are drawn.
As of March, 237 scientists have signed an appeal to the United Nations asking them to take the risks posed by electromagnetic radiation more seriously.”

Additional Resources (Updated March 15, 2020)

Aikaterina L, Stefi AL, Vassilacopoulou D, Margaritis LH, Christodoulakis NS. Oxidative
stress and an animal neurotransmitter synthesizing enzyme in the leaves of wild
growing myrtle after exposure to GSM radiation. Flora. 243:67-76. June 2018.
Granger J,
Walkowicz L, Fitak R, Johnsen S. Gray whales strand more often on days with
increased levels of atmospheric radio-frequency noise. Curr Biol. 2020 Feb
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Nyqvist D, Durif C, Johnsen MG, De Jong K, Forland TN, Sivle LD. Electric and magnetic senses in marine animals, and potential behavioral effects of electromagnetic surveys. Mar Environ Res. 2020 Mar;155:104888. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/32072990