Thursday, March 5, 2009

Top Blue Chip Companies Refuse To Fund Cancer Risk Study / Rogers abandons north Burlington site for cell tower / Swiss TV programme

Top Blue Chip Companies Refuse To Fund Cancer Risk Study, Says UNITE
Main Category: Cancer / Oncology
Article Date: 04 Mar 2009 - 0:00 PST
Britain's top component companies are refusing to spend less than a cost of a couple of pints of lager per employee for new research that could highlight the cancer risks in their industry. The UK electronics industry, the world's fifth largest with 25,000 employees, is defying the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and government who have asked the top computer component companies to chip in to pay for the £600,000 report over four years.

Unite, the UK's largest union, which has already pledged £60,000 towards the cost, calculates that it would cost the industry £6 a year for each employee to fund the potentially life saving research.

Unite is launching a campaign to force major IT employers to fund a study, following evidence from the United States where a study at IBM found 'significantly greater' cancer deaths than expected compared to the general population.

Employers have refused to recognise such a study is necessary as they say there is insufficient evidence.

Peter Skyte, Unite national officer said: "The UK electronics industry is worth £23 billion a year, yet these highly profitable companies are refusing to fund a study despite troubling evidence showing there could be an increased risk of cancer to their staff. The industry is putting costs before people's lives and health - just to save the price of a couple of pints of lager per employee."

Evidence from three separate studies has shown higher than average rates of certain cancers. Unite is demanding further research so that if there are increased risks, steps can be taken to remove those risks.

The HSE has recently announced a series of audits starting next month of the semiconductor industry's arrangements to control known hazardous substances following pressure from Unite.


- The HSE estimates a study lasting four years, would cost £600,000. If ten of the largest UK semiconductor companies agreed to fund this research it would cost them each around £15,000 pa for four years - barely the cost of a company car.

- Workers in the semiconductor, chip and computer sector are exposed to chemicals, metals (especially arsenic, nickel and chromium), and electro magnetic fields such as ultraviolet light, radiofrequency and x-ray radiation.

- There are two current studies into cancer risks in the semiconductor industry, a further US study and a study based in Scotland. Unite has serious misgivings about both studies. The US study is being conducted in non-union sites, without any involvement of worker representatives. The Scottish study is based on a small number of workers and in only one workplace and will not be comprehensive.

Rogers abandons north Burlington site for cell tower

By Jason Misner, Burlington Post Staff


Mar 04, 2009

Rogers Communications Inc. has dropped its controversial site proposal for a new cell tower in north Burlington.

But the telecommunications giant still wants to build a tower in the north part of the city to provide better wireless, high-speed coverage and meet company standards.

Karen Balbaa, site acquisition specialist with Rogers, confirmed with the Post on Monday that a proposed site to build a 65 metre (213-foot) cell tower on a piece of the Burlington Airpark in the north end of the city "has been withdrawn" and the company is looking for a new location.

Industry Canada, the tower's approval body, was notified of the decision, Balbaa said.

A well-attended public meeting was held at City Hall about the proposed site Jan. 14, where many residents criticized Rogers for its tower site.

"We took into consideration all of the comments we received from the general public and we wanted to work with community. We felt it was in everyone's best interest to look for another location that was not going to create so much opposition," Balbaa said.

No site has been identified, but a new tower site is required, she said.

"We will be submitting a new application for an alternate location," said Balbaa.

The rural site was a sore spot with residents in the area, who believed the location was wrong because of its incompatibility with the surrounding pastoral rural landscape, its proximity to the Appleby Line/Bell School Line facility airport, its potential danger to people's health and its effect on property values, migrating birds and the life cycle of bees.

Barbara Sheldon, a vocal opponent of the tower site, is happy Rogers has withdrawn its proposal. However, she would feel more comfortable to see that decision in writing.

Also, Sheldon explained that she and others hope another tower location is "not in rural residential Burlington."

She also feels other technologies could be used by Rogers to make its service better in north Burlington.

"Our biggest concern is we don't want to pass this on to another community," Sheldon said. "We still have grave concerns because nothing is in writing."

As part of the application process, Rogers must consult with the city about its proposal even though the municipality does not make the decision on whether the tower is approved.

Rogers officials explained to an evening audience at City Hall in mid- January that a new cell tower is needed to address a geographic 'dead' zone that makes it difficult for people to use their cellphone and complete other wireless tasks like downloading.

City officials say the municipality does not approve or deny Rogers' application for the cell tower. That decision lies with Industry Canada.

The city is essentially a commenting agency that can provide feedback to the federal government as it determines whether the application gets the go ahead.

There are no setback requirements to residential properties in Industry Canada's cell tower protocol, the city has said.

Health Canada states on its web-site that while "some studies claim that biological effects may occur at RF (radiofrequency) energy levels below the limits (of Safety Code 6), these biological effects are not well established and their implications for human health need further study."


Please, see the enclosed Swiss TV programme, "Ondes: vous êtes
cernés !", from March 3, 2009, containing i.a. a certain unmentionable Swede who appears after approx. 24 minutes of the programme!

[The Swiss TV team definitely should have great credit, they performed in an excellent way. With such interest and knowledge behind the camera and microphone, it is easy to be interviewed!]

Best regards

(Olle Johansson, assoc. prof.
The Experimental Dermatology Unit
Department of Neuroscience
Karolinska Institute
171 77 Stockholm


The Royal Institute of Technology
100 44 Stockholm