Allan Frey: A Pioneer of Radiation Research

There are a few people who have influenced research on radiation, one of whom is Dr. Allan Frey, biophysicist, and engineering psychologist. His work has changed the scientific approach to the subject of radiation and made it an important topic for other scientists. What has he done?

Can you hear radiation?

Measurement devices such as Geiger counters make a series of clicking or static buzzing noises in response to radiation. Older measurement devices converted radioactive activity into electricity, which could be heard through a speaker. This is often the ‘radiation’ sound we might hear on films and television programmes today.

In 1960 Allan Frey was 25 years old, he was working at General Electric’s Advanced Electronics Center at Cornell University[1]. One day a technician came to him with unexpected news, his job was to measure the signals emitted by radars and he claimed to be able to hear them. The radar was giving off short signals over several periods of time. When Frey visited the facility where the technician worked, he said he also could hear the signals. He then decided to investigate this further.

Frey decided that the effect described by the technician was in his opinion, factual; the radiation could cause audible buzzes or clicks. Microwave radiation (as that was the kind of radiation emitted from the radar mentioned above) could be heard by humans but not in the same way that sound waves are perceived.

According to Frey, it occurred in the brain itself where tiny electrical fields were generated by the microwaves interacting with the brain cells. Supposedly, many deaf people were also able to hear microwave radiation. This phenomenon was called ‘microwave hearing’ and it is also known by the name ‘the Frey effect’[2]. Some of the workers claimed that ‘microwave hearing’ was accompanied by side effects such as dizziness and headaches and that signals of radiation could be heard by them even at a distance of 100m from the radar.

Allan Frey became the most active researcher on the health effects of microwave radiation in the United States. His studies were funded by the Office of Naval Research and the American army because of the expanding use of radars by the U.S. military at that time. He was testing his theories on rats and frogs, these animals reacted to smaller doses of radiation than we know are emitted from modern smartphones. He was a pioneer in the field of radiation and its impact on living creatures.

The ground-breaking research

In the 1970s, after many years of studying microwave radiation, Dr. Frey came to some revolutionary conclusions. It is important to know what the blood-brain barrier (BBB) is. By definition, it is a highly selective semipermeable membrane (meaning it allows certain molecules or ions to pass through it by diffusion) barrier that separates the circulating blood from the brain. He found out that this kind of radiation could break the blood-brain barrier and harm the circulatory system. After long-term exposure, bacteria and toxins could enter the brain environment and affect the functioning of the nerve cells. Frey used a relatively simple method to describe his work[3][4].

The circulatory system of rats was injected with a fluorescent dye. As we know, the brain is protected from taking such substances due to the blood-brain barrier so it remained pink-grey while different organs were fluorescing. Then, animals were exposed to microwave radiation, after a few minutes the dye got through the barrier of the brain. It happened because even at low-frequency signals could open the protective barrier. Doctor Allan Frey’s studies were reported in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences in 1975[5].

After publishing this study, Allan Frey requested renewal of government funding to continue research on the BBB. He remembered, “Largely as a consequence of this report, funding for open microwave-bio research in the United States was essentially shut down. (…) I received a letter stating that funding would not be granted unless I dropped the BBB part of the proposal”. You can read about Frey’s problems with providing research on radiation in his letter here.

In the 60s American scientists didn’t approve Frey’s findings. They believed that ‘microwave hearing’ was the result of outside noise. Soon the Frey effect was proven (to a certain extent) by the works of different scientists, with Leif Salford[6] (Lund University, Sweden) among them (and we wrote about his research in our earlier article here). Same thing happened with the blood-brain barrier research from the 70s. It took a long time to finally agree with the results of this study. Nowadays, more than 40 years from the Frey’s research, one of the most-known brain surgeons, Dr. Charlie Teo[7] speaks openly about radiation breaking the blood-brain barrier of the human brain.

Dr. Allan Frey was the first to provide the scientific research on radiation’s impact on health. He is truly the pioneer and one of the most well-known scientists in this field. Now he’s over 80 years old and still working as a scientist at Randomline Inc., Maryland, USA.

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[1]Cellular Phone Task Force (2017) The Work of Allan H. Frey [Online] (Accessed 07/09/2017)

[2]Frey, A. (1962) Human auditory system response to Modulated electromagnetic energy [Online] (Accessed 07/09/2017)

[3]Cellular Phone Task Force (2017) The Work of Allan H. Frey [Online] (Accessed 07/09/2017)

[4]Environmental Health Trust (2011) NEWSLETTER: Allan Frey And The Inconvenient Truth About Radio Frequency Radiation [Online] (Accessed 07/09/2017)

[5]Frey, A. et al. (1975) The New York Academy of Sciences: Neural Function and Behavior: Defining the Relationship [Online] (Accessed 07/09/2017)

[6]Cellular Phone Task Force (2017) The Work of Leif Salford [Online] (Accessed 07/09/2017)

[7]Critchley, C. (2009) Brain surgeon Dr Charlie Teo warns against mobiles, home appliances [Online] (Accessed 07/09/2017)