Powerwatch News August 2009 - Science Update
The following is a quick summary of another twenty papers that have come out over the last few months related to effects of electromagnetic radiation. Some of the papers are from the March 2009 issue of Pathophysiology that had a number of very important papers published (including the material that made up some of the chapters of the BioInitiative report). There have been a large number of relevant EMF papers published this year, and we are trying to catch up with as many of them as possible - we'll hopefully have another 20 before the end of this month.
Click here for the full news story
There is an article in this week's "New Scientist" on a proposal to make aircraft in which all the control systems are wireless; rather like Wi-Fi. You can find it at: -
Readers were invited to make comments. I am pasting in my contribution to the thread on the hazards of Wi-Fi. It met with the usual replies (in red) and I felt that I had to respond. I guess this is about as far as we are likely to get to having our stuff on ES published in the "New Scientist".
If anyone wants to have their say, you are still free to do so; posting is automatic and appears immediately. However, to save wasting your time, you have to type it in the hard way. The site does not accept "cut and paste".
(Dr. Andrew Goldsworthy)
Effects On The Passengers And Crew
Sat Sep 05 15:22:02 BST 2009 by Dr Andrew Goldsworthy
Some people are adversely affected by wireless devices such as cell phones, cordless phones and Wifi. The condition is known as electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS) and affects about three percent of the population. Their symptoms can be accounted for by an electromagnetically-induced increase in the permeability of the cells of the nervous system that triggers their sensory cells to send false signals to the brain. These cells respond to normal stimulation by short circuiting the natural voltage that occurs across their membranes to give the so-called receptor potential. This triggers the release of neurotransmitters tha make neighbouring nerve cells send impulses to the brain.
Electromagnetically-induced ion leakage also does this, and can result in false sensations of heat, pressure, pins and needles etc. depending on which cells are most affected. When the hair cells of the inner ear are affected, it results in tinnitus, dizziness and symptoms of motion sickness, including nausea.
EHS sufferers will not be able to tolerate travelling in an aircraft where this sort of radiation is all pervading. Even normally healthy individuals can become EHS sufferers as a result of prolonged exposure to the radiation, so the air crew will be particularly at risk, making it impossible to continue in their job.
Even people who are not overtly sensitive to the radiation become less able to perform complex tasks. The underlying mechanism is that the radiation releases calcium ions from cell membranes. This has been known since the work of Suzanne Bawin et al. 1975. Ann N.Y. Acad Sci 247: 74-81. This ions, with their double positive charge, normally stabilise cell membranes by helping to bind together their negatively charged phospholipids.
Without them, they can develop temporary pores and leak. This allows free calcium to enter the cell down a huge electrochemical gradient from the outside to raise the internal calcium concentration. This makes neurones more likely to release neurotransmitters and give action potentials that have no right to be there in neighbouring neurons. This manifests itself as a loss of concentration, confused thought and a reduced ability to perform complex tasks. A similar effect may be at least partially responsible for the four-fold increase in the accident rate when driving using a cell phone. This is the same, regardless of whether it is a hands-free type, whereas talking to a passenger has little (i.e. no radiation) has little or no effect. The thought that this might happen to my pilot does not inspire me with confidence.
Effects On The Passengers And Crew
Mon Sep 07 11:11:24 BST 2009 by Martlark
EHS has been shown to be entirely in the mind of the be-holder. Numerous tests reveal that EHS 'sufferers' cannot tell if electrical equipment is on or off in blinded testing. EHS is one of those new agey crocks, put about by cranks and similar snake oil merchants.
Effects On The Passengers And Crew
Mon Sep 07 12:41:41 BST 2009 by Oji
Well said. And this overlooks the fact that planes already use various radio and radar systems. Not to mention all the electromagnetic radiation generated from those miles of wiring....
Those who believe they are sensitive to such things should probably be wearing tinfoil hats and underwear anyway. Not least so we can identify and avoid them.
Effects On The Passengers And Crew
Tue Sep 08 12:04:59 BST 2009 by Dr Andrew Goldsworthy
Thanks to Martlark for raising this point. As an ex-radio amateur, I used to feel exactly like him, was equally sceptical and could not be satisfied until I understood the mechanism underlying EHS. It took me a long time and a lot of reading before I discovered the mechanism, based on membrane leakage, that I have just described. It explains not only electrosensitivity but also the increase in a number of "modern illnesses" that have occurred since the advent of cell phones (see http://tinyurl.com/5ru6e6 ). When I pieced it all together, it was a eureka moment in reverse. Instead of feeling elated, I felt gutted; it was something I didn't want to know but it explained almost everything about the reported biological effects of weak non-ionizing radiation.
Naturally, the cell phone companies are not happy either and sponsored a number of studies to try to prove that electrosensitivity did not exist. Perhaps, the most widely quoted is the study by Eltiti and co-workers at the University of Essex in 2007, but this is deeply flawed.
For example, if you read the small print, you will see that they deliberately excluded epileptics and people with pacemakers for heart conditions from the study. This removes two of the groups most likely to be affected by the radiation. It may have been done on safety grounds but ,if so, why are these people not also advised not to use cell phones or go anywhere near cell towers?
Others who were excluded were people who became ill as a result the experiments and failed to complete the course (this too would have biased the results in favour of the sponsors).
Another flaw, which came to light after one of the volunteers, surprised by the inconclusive nature of the results asked to see the raw data. It turned out that they were only counted as electrosensitive if the could identify correctly when the signal was both turned on and off. In fact, 70 percent of them guessed correctly when the signal was turned on, but the results were no better than chance for when it was turned off. This is just what might be expected for most traumatic events. For example, if you hit your thumb with a hammer, the pain persists for some time and you cannot say precisely when it ends. This 70 percent should therefore be classed as sensitive and not insensitive. To see how absurd the argument is, exactly the same logic could be used to "prove" that hitting your thumb with a hammer doesn't hurt!
A further point worth noting is that they showed very clearly that the electrosensitive group were physiologically different to the controls in that they had significantly higher skin conductance measurement (the probability of this result arising by chance was one in a thousand). This was an extremely important finding since it is consistent with this group having more leaky cell membranes. However, it was deeply buried in a table and completely omitted from the abstract (which is all that most people ever read).
So I would say to Martlark do not take what people say on this or any subject without checking. This particular study should have shown that electrosensitivity did indeed exist, but the results were so badly handled that it appeared to show the opposite. We can perhaps excuse the authors since they were psychologists rather than physiologists and did not understand the physiological significance of their findings. Naturally, their sponsors would have been so pleased with their conclusions that they would hardly be likely to question them. Things are not always what they seem I'm afraid.
Collision that killed mechanic haunts workers at KC Harley-Davidson plant
By MEREDITH RODRIGUEZ
The Kansas City Star
At Richard Rice's funeral, 50 Harley riders revved their motorcycles in unison out of respect for their co-worker and fellow rider.
They followed his hearse. They hugged his mother, who was in tears.
"I'd never seen anything like that before," said Rice's mother, Rosalee Teters. "Rickey … he never thought he was that important to anyone. He never thought he was special."
But the 53-year-old was part of the Harley brotherhood, and the others know that what happened to him could have happened to any of them.
Rice was killed July 21 on North Congress Avenue, less than three blocks south of the Harley-Davidson manufacturing plant where he worked in Kansas City, North. He and his co-workers were filing home when, according to Kansas City police, a sport utility vehicle pulled past a stop sign in front of his motorcycle.
The SUV driver told police that her view of Rice, and his of her, were obstructed by another car, but co-workers who were driving alongside Rice point to another reason for the fatality: The SUV driver was using her cell phone. She had just received a call, she told police Officer Ron Reilly, who took the report.
Inflaming them more, Rice's co-workers say she continued talking on her phone after the impact. She drove forward, ran over Rice while she still was on the phone and sat in her parked vehicle talking before ending the call, witnesses said.
The crash that killed Rice reverberated through a work force that has been hammered this year by layoffs. On the Thursday before the Tuesday accident, Harley-Davidson Inc. announced 460 layoffs at its Kansas City plant, which has more than 900 employees.
In the following days, more than 250 people, most of them Harley workers, signed a petition asking that the driver be prosecuted. It's a start, they said, in pushing for a law to ban cell-phone use while driving.
They said a new Missouri law that prohibits motorists age 21 and younger from sending text messages while driving is an inadequate attempt at regulation.
"He died for one reason only: The other driver was talking on the phone," said Candis Jerome, whose husband was riding ahead of Rice and who spearheaded the petition. "In our opinion, the cell phone is a form of impairment in the same way driving under the influence is an impairment."
Rice's family has hired a lawyer to prepare a civil lawsuit, and Kansas City police plan to present their report to the Platte County prosecutor, who would decide whether to file charges.
The driver of the SUV, a 46-year-old, told The Kansas City Star she had been advised to say nothing.
"I'm very sorry for the loss, of course," said the woman, who is not being identified by The Star because no charges have been filed.
Rice was a Kansas City native who rode his motorcycle to California's Redwoods and loved New Zealand's South Island because it felt old-fashioned and honest, his mother said.
He was a math whiz and was known in his tight-knit workgroup as "Rickipedia" because of his knowledge of trivia. He was planning to start a solar- and wind-energy venture with his best friend if he were laid off from Harley. He had just learned he would be laid off temporarily in September.
He never smoked, hardly drank and almost married once, his mother said.
Amid her grief, Teters was amused that investigators conducted a blood test on her son.
"It's going to be so squeaky clean. It's going to scare you to death," Teters said.
WiFi not recent news, but useful information.
German Government advises against wi-fi: