Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Protecting children from Wi-Fi in schools / Huge energy wastage from mobile phone masts / Mast murder or mass hysteria

From: Una St.Clair

To: Martin Weatherall

Sent: Monday, April 20, 2009 12:38 PM

Subject: Protecting children from Wi-Fi in schools

Hi Martin – please use my letters to support others fight Wi-Fi installations in schools (attached). .

Una St.Clair-Moniz



New report shows huge energy wastage from mobile phone masts

Source: The Green Party
Published Monday, 20 April, 2009 - 09:44

Competition between mobile phone companies is wasting almost 300 GWh a year due to duplication of telephone network equipment, says a new report from the Green Party.

According to the report, published Monday 20 April, the amount of energy currently wasted by the mobile phone networks would be enough to:

  * Run almost a third of the London Underground
  * Power seven Docklands Light Railways
  * Keep the Blackpool Tramway going for 137 years
  * Meet the electricity needs of around 68,000 homes

The report, Better Together, argues that mobile phone companies must cooperate to cut the industry's emissions as part of Britain's fight against
climate change.

Darren Johnson AM, the Green Party's spokesperson on trade and industry, commented today:

"The government should require mobile phone operators to share facilities."

"They would save money, cut CO2 emissions and provide the same level of signal cover with fewer masts."

"In the short-term operators could be required to share base stations at times of low demand. The government should direct Ofcom to ensure that the sharing of the new 800 MHz frequency band is done in a way that is energy efficient."

"Ultimately they could build new shared infrastructure. They could cooperate on a 'super-network'."

He concluded: "With the climate crisis deepening, Britain can't afford this amount of gratuitous waste." [Have your say on the eGov monitor website]



Mast murder or mass hysteria

The Sunday Times 19 April 2009

Mast murder or mass hysteria ? Mobile phone antennae have been shown to devalue your home but can they really harm your health - or is that a tall tale?

Ireland's number of mobile-phone antennae is fast approaching the 10,000 mark, as numbers of mobile calls continue to rocket.

Despite being disguised as trees (they are still ugly) and consistent reassurances that they are safe, phone masts remain stubbornly controversial — and not just because of health concerns. The presence of a nearby mast will always reduce the value of a property. So much so that during the market's boom times, articles in property magazines even suggested buying near these installations as a way of bagging affordable bricks and mortar.

Undoubtedly, if there are three very similar properties in an area and one of them has a mast on it or very close by, buyers are not even going to look at it, so you could be losing 25%-30% of the home's value," says Gordon Lennox, head of Lennox Estates in Dublin. "People are concerned about the potential health effects, even though there is plenty of reassurance out there from institutions such as the World Health Organisation. It is the same with electrical pylons. You also get a small minority who are not bothered, of course." Some agents would even go so far as to say that a mast could halve the value of your property.

Others have reported buyers pulling out of sales after finding out that there was a planning application for a mast nearby.

As well as the power to devalue your home, telecom masts also have an unerring ability to ignite local community activism among those who find them objectionable.

In the Dublin suburb of Clondalkin last year, for example, the anti-mast clamour reached fever pitch when a local group called for the removal of antennae on a mast at Ronanstown garda station.

The group claimed the devices were responsible for an unusually high number of deaths in the area.

"Thirty people are dead, including nine members of the Garda Siochana," said Pauline Keeley, of the organisation Better Environment and Safer Telecommunications (Best). "And while we cannot say these definitely were caused by the masts, we can't say they definitely weren't, either. But nobody is coming up with any other bright ideas about what the cause might be. Whatever it is, we believe it cannot be coincidence."

The Clondalkin protesters were up against it, because previous claims of alleged "cancer clusters" potentially related to the existence of mobile phone masts had been dismissed, such as one in Summerhill, in Dublin's inner city, a few years ago. But organisations opposed to them are more determined than ever to have their voices heard.

Keeley says that Best has been in contact with communities all over Ireland that suspect that the presence of such telephone masts may be to blame for apparent increases in the incidence of illness and death.

"Communities from different parts of Donegal, Tipperary, Cork, Wexford, Roscommon, Mayo, Wexford, Kilkenny and Wicklow have all been in touch with the same concerns, specifically about phone masts.

People are genuinely afraid and, while we cannot prove anything yet, the anecdotal evidence is very strong."

In the Clondalkin case, pressure on the government did prompt some action. A survey by Vilicom, an independent telecom engineering firm, was carried out, but it said the electromagnetic field strengths surrounding the particular site were well below those set out in current European Union guidelines.

As is often the case with standards set by governments or in Brussels, however, not everyone is happy with them.

Professor Olle Johansson, of the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, said: "The current guidelines are obsolete because they do not take into account the biological effects of microwaves.

The standards are based solely on thermal effects — in other words, on the notion that it cannot be healthy to heat up a certain part of your brain for more than a certain amount of time. This does not take account of the non-thermal effects, or the ability of microwaves to alter cells."

Johansson is part of a team commissioned by the Swedish government to investigate the effects of exposure to microwave radiation on humans as a result of cell phone and other wireless technology.

He says that Swedes are exposed to roughly the same level of microwave radiation as we are in Ireland — the equivalent of about 200 chest X-rays every year.

Johansson says that he and other scientists researching the subject are in roughly the same place as those flagging the potentially negative effects of cigarette smoking or asbestos would have been in 30 or 40 years ago.

"Microwaves go through your body — and are we really to believe that humans have evolved a shield in the past couple of decades to protect them against exposure to levels of microwave radiation that are a million billion times that to which our parents were exposed in the 1950s? Of course not.

"Even if you compare it to cigarette-smoking or asbestos, not everyone smoked or was exposed to that material, but everyone is exposed to microwaves.

"I hope I am wrong about this, but at the same time we need to be at least as well informed as we are about the dangers of smoking or those of the motor car. If I am wrong, at least the research will have been done," he says.

Not everyone is happy to wait to find out conclusively if phone masts are detrimental to their health. Desmond Guinness, of Leixlip Castle in Co Kildare, has had a telecom mast on his land for 10 years but concerns over its possible side effects have prompted him not to renew the lease.

"We just don't know," he says. "The mast on my land is not near anyone's home but it is near a road, so I have decided not to renew the lease when it comes around. I just don't think it is worth the risk any more."

Some people have had them removed for more concrete reasons. Back in 1999, northside Dublin resident Karen Heneghan went to the High Court and successfully argued for the removal of a mast next to her property by proving that it was in breach of planning guidelines. Henegan was motivated by the detrimental visual impact of the mast and its potential to devalue her property.

John Ryan, a Co Tipperary farmer, is in no doubt about the health implications. He claims a mast he had on his land ruined not just his health but that of his animals, too.

In what became a well-publicised case a couple of years ago, Ryan campaigned to force Vodafone , with which he'd signed a 10,000-a-year contract to host a mast for five years, to switch it off then remove

"I got sick as soon as they turned it on," he says..

"It was difficult to describe at first, just like a sort of a trembling in the body and a sort of 'pressure' in the head." Ryan says it wasn't until he collapsed a number of times that he sought medical help. Under observation in hospital, he says doctors couldn't agree on a diagnosis, apart from noting that something was interfering with the rhythm of his heart.

"I started to feel better when I was in hospital and it wasn't until I went home and started to feel ill again that I connected it with the mast. I even moved out to a friend's house a mile-and-a-half away and it was like heaven."

Vodafone removed the mast in 2007 but said there was no question of liability or a connection between the mast and Ryan's health.

So do concerns about the adverse effects of antennae amount to mast murder or just mass hysteria ? Nobody knows yet but, like a persistent phone pest, the chatter refuses to die down.


A 25m mast thought to have been felled by an objector in Killarney; left, antennae tower above Clontarf garda station Ireland's mast count is approaching 10,000 Desmond Guinness is taking a firm stand.