Los Alamos Scientist: TSA Scanners Shred Human DNA

In layman’s terms what Alexandrov and his team discovered is that the resonant effects of the THz waves bombarding humans unzips the double-stranded DNA molecule. This ripping apart of the twisted chain of DNA creates bubbles between the genes that can interfere with the processes of life itself: normal DNA replication and critical gene expression, writes Terrance Aym.

By Terrance Aym
Dec. 17, 2010

While the application of scientific knowledge creates technology, sometimes the technology is later redefined by science. Such is the case with terahertz (THz) radiation, the energy waves that drive the technology of the TSA: back scatter airport scanners.

Emerging THz technological applications

THz waves are found between microwaves and infrared on the electromagnetic spectrum. This type of radiation was chosen for security devices because it can penetrate matter such as clothing, wood, paper and other porous material that’s non-conducting. This type of radiation seems less threatening because it doesn’t penetrate deeply into the body and is believed to be harmless to both people and animals.

THz waves may have applications beyond security devices. Research has been done to determine the feasibility of using the radiation to detect tumors underneath the skin and for analyzing the chemical properties of various materials and compounds. The potential marketplace for THz driven technological applications may generate many billions of dollars in revenue.

Because of the potential profits, intense research on THz waves and applications has mushroomed over the last decade.

Health risks

The past several years the possible health risks from cumulative exposure to THz waves was mostly dismissed. Experts pointed to THz photons and explained that they are not strong enough to ionize atoms or molecules; nor are they able to break the chains of chemical bonds. They assert—and it is true—that while higher energy photons like ultraviolet rays and X-rays are harmful, the lower energy ones like terahertz waves are basically harmless. [Softpedia.com]

While that is true, there are other biophysics at work. Some studies have shown that THZ can cause great genetic harm, while other similar studies have shown no such evidence of deleterious affects.

Boian Alexandrov at the Center for Nonlinear Studies at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico recently published an abstract with colleagues, “DNA Breathing Dynamics in the Presence of a Terahertz Field ” that reveals very disturbing—even shocking—evidence that the THz waves generated by TSA scanners is significantly damaging the DNA of the people being directed through the machines, and the TSA workers that are in close proximity to the scanners throughout their workday.

From the abstract’s own synopsis:

“We consider the influence of a terahertz field on the breathing dynamics of double-stranded DNA. We model the spontaneous formation of spatially localized openings of a damped and driven DNA chain, and find that linear instabilities lead to dynamic dimerization, while true local strand separations require a threshold amplitude mechanism. Based on our results we argue that a specific terahertz radiation exposure may significantly affect the natural dynamics of DNA, and thereby influence intricate molecular processes involved in gene expression and DNA replication.”

In layman’s terms what Alexandrov and his team discovered is that the resonant effects of the THz waves bombarding humans unzips the double-stranded DNA molecule. This ripping apart of the twisted chain of DNA creates bubbles between the genes that can interfere with the processes of life itself: normal DNA replication and critical gene expression.

Other studies have not discovered this deadly effect on the DNA because the research only investigated ordinary resonant effects.

Nonlinear resonance, however, is capable of such damage and this sheds light on the genotoxic effects inherent in the utilization of THz waves upon living tissue. The team emphasizes in their abstract that the effects are probabilistic rather than deterministic. [See next article below for a better explanation. ~Ed.]

Unfortunately, DNA damage is not limited only to THz wave exposure. Other research has been done that reveals lower frequency microwaves used by cell phones and Wi-Fi cause some harm to DNA over time as well. (“Single- and double-strand DNA breaks in rat brain cells after acute exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic radiation.”)


Here’s MIT’s Technology Review on Alexandrov’s work:

How Terahertz Waves Tear Apart DNA

Oct. 30, 2009

A new model of the way the THz waves interact with DNA explains how the damage is done and why evidence has been so hard to gather

Great things are expected of terahertz waves, the radiation that fills the slot in the electromagnetic spectrum between microwaves and the infrared. Terahertz waves pass through non-conducting materials such as clothes, paper, wood and brick and so cameras sensitive to them can peer inside envelopes, into living rooms and “frisk” people at distance.

The way terahertz waves are absorbed and emitted can also be used to determine the chemical composition of a material. And even though they don’t travel far inside the body, there is great hope that the waves can be used to spot tumours near the surface of the skin.

With all that potential, it’s no wonder that research on terahertz waves has exploded in the last ten years or so.

But what of the health effects of terahertz waves? At first glance, it’s easy to dismiss any notion that they can be damaging. Terahertz photons are not energetic enough to break chemical bonds or ionise atoms or molecules, the chief reasons why higher energy photons such as x-rays and UV rays are so bad for us. But could there be another mechanism at work?

The evidence that terahertz radiation damages biological systems is mixed. “Some studies reported significant genetic damage while others, although similar, showed none,” say Boian Alexandrov at the Center for Nonlinear Studies at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico and a few buddies. Now these guys think they know why.

Alexandrov and co have created a model to investigate how THz fields interact with double-stranded DNA and what they’ve found is remarkable. They say that although the forces generated are tiny, resonant effects allow THz waves to unzip double-stranded DNA, creating bubbles in the double strand that could significantly interfere with processes such as gene expression and DNA replication. That’s a jaw dropping conclusion.

And it also explains why the evidence has been so hard to garner. Ordinary resonant effects are not powerful enough to do do this kind of damage but nonlinear resonances can. These nonlinear instabilities are much less likely to form which explains why the character of THz genotoxic effects are probabilistic rather than deterministic, say the team.

This should set the cat among the pigeons. Of course, terahertz waves are a natural part of environment, just like visible and infrared light. But a new generation of cameras are set to appear that not only record terahertz waves but also bombard us with them. And if our exposure is set to increase, the question that urgently needs answering is what level of terahertz exposure is safe.

Ref: arxiv.org/abs/0910.5294: DNA Breathing Dynamics in the Presence of a Terahertz Field


4 responses to “Los Alamos Scientist: TSA Scanners Shred Human DNA

  1. Hi, let me give you & your readers another perspective.
    Terahertz radiation, is part of your daily world already. You can’t escape exposure to it. Both mid-infrared and terahertz radiations are ubiquitous since they are significant part of blackbody radiation from any objects (including human bodies and cars etc.) around room temperature. http://academic.brooklyn.cuny.edu/physics/chen/

    You receive much more artificial THz exposure from the light-bulb in your
    house, or from other warm objects in the ambient environment, than from the
    weak exposure for a short period of time from current THz scanners, (which by the way, are not one-size fits all. Some are pulsed, while others are continuous.)
    Not to worry in either case, since they are non-ionizing, meaning unlike an x-ray they won’t harm you.

    Dr. Alexandrov, most recently participated in new testing, and co-authored an article which demonstrates that for DNA to show any changes due to artificial terahertz exposure only occurs after being bombarded for hours at a time, using a broad-band spectrum of THz. Even then, the changes were specific to the particular DNA which received exposure at these high levels and for such lengthy duration.
    “Mammalian Stem Cells Reprogramming in Response to Terahertz Radiation”

    A pioneer in THZ research, Dr. Daniel Mittleman from Rice University provided his thoughts on this issue, on my blog.

  2. @Randy… I think you missed the crucial point… Alexandrov says the problem happens in DNA replication, not damage to DNA from mere exposure…. I concur with Alexandrov….

  3. Hi Bill,
    I’m sorry, but the point you make raises a distinction without a meaningful difference.
    If THz radiation is ubiquitous, (and it is) then we are constantly getting bombarded by THz radiation by our proximity to any warm object, including ourselves. Hence, if the thesis is correct, one would anticipate that you would see the alleged unzipping of DNA, as a result of daily life. Sorry. I think it’s ridiculous.

  4. Pingback: Target: Human DNA « wonderinspirit

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