Sunday, January 3, 2010

Towers sending tumour signals / Brain Cancer exposures to radar / Full-body scanners might not work as advertised / Debate still raging

Towers sending tumour signals

By: Hemal Ashar
Date:  2010-01-03
Place: Mumbai

Mumbai's swanky Usha Kiran building says the four cancer cases there could be linked to mobile towers installed on the facing Vijay Apartments

Mobile towers or mobile tumours? That is the question. A slew of buildings in the plush Carmichael Road area in South Mumbai, have come together to appeal to Vijay Apartments to remove mobile towers on top of their building, to prevent harmful radiation. The trigger is a couple of cancer cases in Usha Kiran building located opposite Vijay Apartments.

The cell phone towers installed on the Vijay Apartments terrace at Carmichael Road pic/Bipin Kokate

Though studies have not yet shown proof of a direct link between mobile tower radiation and cancer, Burjor Cooper, chairman, Carmichael Road Citizen's Committee, (CRCC) echoes the sentiments of those opposed to the towers in his recent appeal, when he says: "It will take several years for the completion of conclusive research and for any restrictions and safety standards to be implemented -- with the result that many innocent lives could be lost because of the harmful effects of mobile phone towers."

'Remove mobile towers'

Buildings that are supporting Usha Kiran and have joined in the appeal are: Rushila building, Ghia Mansion, Anand-Kamal Co-Op Society, Everest House and Indira Premises Co-Op Society.

Though debate on the issue has been simmering for six months now, things have heated up since the past two months, with written appeals and meetings with Vijay Apartments to disband the towers.

Fatal signals

The appeal, also signed by Prakash Patel, treasurer, CRCC, elaborates: "There are three cases of brain tumours (two cases are of a cancerous nature and one case of recurrent/aggressive meningioma) and one case of bone cancer, all four cases in the recent past in Usha Kiran building. These three floors are directly facing and at the same height as the two mobile phone towers placed on the roof of the building (Vijay Apartments) on the opposite side of the road.

"These life-threatening health issues have been either caused or enhanced by the high levels of Electro Magnetic Radiation (EMR) emitted by mobile phone towers. The health hazards arising from such EMR emissions of mobile phone towers is now recognised in all developed countries and the numerous research reports have been published overseas." They say the towers must be removed to prevent widespread panic too.

Inconsequential findings

Siddharth Bhandari, chairman, Vijay Apartments building society says, "There has been no hostility, either from our side or Usha Kiran. Some months ago, scientists from the Society for Applied Microwave Electronics Engineering and Research (SAMEER) agency in Mumbai did measure the radiation from the towers on our building. It fell within permissible limits.

"We went to Usha Kiran with these findings but they said it was inconsequential, we need to remove the towers anyway."

Risk to families

Bhandari says, "We need to have a solid case to convince society members that these towers, which have been on the building for more than three years, have to be removed. As a resident of the nine-storey building, I reside on the top floor closest to the tower. Even I do not want to expose my family to any radiation risk.

Nobody would. Yet, is there a link between the cancer cases and the mobile towers? Is there reasonable doubt? We have to find out for sure. We also have asked that if we remove the towers then no other building in the vicinity be allowed to put towers. "

Ghia Mansion's Shyam B Ghia's letter to Usha Kiran dated October 6, 2009 allays those doubts. It says: "To assure Vijay Apartments' residents that their cooperation is not nullified by future unneighbourly (sic) actions by other societies the undersigned societies undertake and indemnify Vijay Apartments that they themselves will not install any cell phone tower in future." 

Not convinced

The Indira Premises Co-operative Society letter says: "In the year 2001, our society was approached by Orange (now Vodafone) for permission to install cell phone towers on our terrace for handsome money consideration to the society. In a special general meeting convened for this specific purpose, the officials of Orange tried to convince our members that there were no known radiation hazards to the residents or to those in the neighbouring buildings.

"In spite of their assurances, our society decided not to allow any installation of cell phone tower on our terrace and subsequently, Vijay Apartments was approached by them."         

Health or wealth

Bhandari would not reveal how much money the building was making because of the mobile phone towers, though he did say there was a financial consideration. When asked if there had been a resident recently afflicted with cancer in Vijay Aparments, he candidly said yes. Yet he sought to dispel the notion that Vijay Apartments' residents were callous and money hungry, stating categorically, "Our building residents are not putting money before health considerations." 

Bhandari says Vijay Apartments is set to hold another radiation testing in the second week of January 2010, with the "mobile towers switched off. If the testing shows a substantial drop in radiation levels with the towers switched off, we would have to decide how to take this further".   

Lakhs or lives?

The angry opposition says testing will not prove anything conclusively, but "all over the world, studies are being done about mobile towers and cancer. Years ago, there was no 'conclusive' proof that cigarettes caused cancer too, but down the line it was proved. So, what are we waiting for? People to die before case studies prove 'conclusively' that mobile cell phone towers are a cancer risk? Is Rs 20 lakh more important than a person's life?"   

The rich and the famous

Carmichael Road is one of Mumbai's priciest real estates. Perched on a steep gradient next to its equally pricey neighbour, Altamount Road (labelled as the Millionnaire's Row), Carmichael Road's landmark Usha Kiran building has flats going at more than Rs 90,000 a square foot. The Ambanis were former Usha Kiran residents.

Now, Mukesh Ambani's hyped Antillia building is under construction just ten minutes away on Altamount Road. Kumaramangalam Birla's Adityayan Mangal bungalow is on Carmichael Road. JRD Tata's heritage bungalow is also on Altamount Road.

What doctors say

Dr Suresh Advani, chief oncologist, Jaslok Hospital, says: "I am very clear that there is no evidence or scientific proof of a link between mobile towers and cancer. The link between tobacco and cancer did not take years to establish, it was known since the very beginning earlier than the 1940s or 50s in fact.

"This is a wrong comparison. There is absolutely nothing to suggest that they may cause cancer."

Yet, concerned citizens have collected a huge database of international reports that state cell phone towers are a health hazard, quoting two-time Nobel prize nominee Dr Gerald Hyland who says, "Existing safety guidelines for cell phone towers are completely inadequate.

Quite justifiably, the public remains skeptical of attempts by governments and industry to reassure them that all is well, particularly the unethical way in which they often operate symbiotically so as to promote their own vested interests."

Says Dr V V Haribhakti, consultant surgical oncologist, "I am unaware of any studies proving a conclusive link.

The last I read was a Scandinavian study which says there is no link between mobile phone towers and cancer.

I don't think there is any solid evidence supporting this so. I do not think towers should be removed."   

What about Jaslok?

Ironically, the Jaslok Hospital, just 120 meters away from Vijay Apartments, has mobile phone towers on top of the structure.

Says Jaslok Hospital CEO Colonel M Masand, "We are not the only building in the vicinity to have these towers.

So far, there is no proof or data from any prominent authority saying that radiation from the towers is harmful.

If anybody shows me proof, I would be the first to throw away these towers."

Rs 90,000

Approx cost per square foot of a flat in a plush apartment on Carmichael Road


Archives of Environmental Health: An International Journal


Volume 57, Number 4 / July-August 2002,2,19;journal,26,58;linkingpublicationresults,1:119954,1

270 - 272

Linking Options


with Induction Periods of Less Than 10 Years in Young Military Radar Workers

Elihu D. Richter A1, Tamar Berman A1, Or Levy A1

A1 Unit of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Hebrew University-Hadassah Jerusalem, Israel


The authors have reported on 5 young patients who had brain tumors that appeared within 10 yr of initial occupational exposures to radar. Four of the patients were less than 30 yr of age when the diagnoses were initially made. Brief induction periods that follow high exposures in individual sentinel patients are a recognized indicator of impending group risk, and these periods call attention to the need for precautionary measures.

Similarly, reports of short induction periods for brain cancer on the side of the head in which there has been prior use of cell phones may also indicate increased risk.


Full-body scanners might not work as advertised

January 2, 9:29 PM

Essex County Conservative Examiner

Terry Hurlbut

A full-body scanner in operation at Schiphol Airport, Amsterdam, The Netherlands. (AP Photo/Cynthia Boll, file)

A shocking report appeared today on a London website, stating that a type of full-body scanner intended for widespread use in the United Kingdom might never have detected the particular bomb that was used in the attempted attack on Northwest Airlines Flight 253 on Christmas Day. The report casts doubt on the efficacy of all body scanners, including US-built scanners, like those recently bought by the US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) for use at Newark Liberty Airport and other airports, that use a different scanning technique.

British reporter Jane Merrick, writing in The Independent online (London), said that new "millimeter-wave" scanners, which use extremely-high-frequency radio to produce a body scan, cannot detect clothing and thus cannot detect any object having the same density as clothing, or a lower density.

If a material is low density, such as powder, liquid or thin plastic – as well as the passenger's clothing – the millimetre waves pass through and the object is not shown on screen. High-density material such as metal knives, guns and dense plastic such as C4 explosive reflect the millimetre waves and leave an image of the object.

Thus the same feature of the scan that creates an obvious privacy concern--effectively stripping a passenger in front of a stranger--also limits its effectiveness in stopping an attempt at mid-air sabotage.

Currently the US-TSA uses X-ray backscatter scanners, which produce a much higher-resolution image than millimeter-wave radio, by virtue of the much shorter (by several orders of magnitude) wavelength. However, the problem with detecting an object having the same density as clothing remains. X rays, the most common medical imaging technique, "see" through clothing, just as millimeter-length radio waves do. X-ray backscatter scanners have been shown to detect credit cards, and would presumably detect a plastic eating utensil--or a weapon made of similar or more-dense material. But the attempted bombing of Flight 253 was carried out with an explosive in the form of a fine powder, not a dense plastic, or even a moldable plastic like the classic C4 plastic explosive.

This report is the latest embarrassment to affect an often acrimonious debate concerning an alleged trade-off between personal privacy and the security of an airline flight and one's fellow passengers. That would-be terrorists would adapt their methods to defeat any scanning technique used would be predictable by the most elementary games theory. In this light, Merrick's report should surprise no one.

Ben Wallace, Conservative Member of Parliament in the UK, sharply criticized his Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, for what he called an over-reliance on scanning technology for airport security. He also took time to point out that X-ray backscatter scanners would be no more likely to detect the Christmas Day bomb than a millimeter-wave radio scanner would have been.

Scanners cannot provide a comprehensive solution on their own. We must now start to ask if national security demands the use of profiling.

The TSA is also planning to test millimeter-wave scanners, in addition to the X-ray backscatter scanners it is currently deploying at 19 airports nationwide.

Earlier this week, the Washington Examiner carried an opinion piece warning that too much of the decision-making by the TSA and other authorities was driven by lobbyists for the companies that build full-body scanners, including US Senators from both major political parties.

Submitted by David


Debate still raging over cell phone, tumor link

Results of major study not likely to quell fears


Sunday, January 3, 2010 at 12:02 a.m.


One measurable and perhaps relevant way to compare cell phones is by the amount of radio frequency waves they emit. This reading is recorded as "specific absorption rate," or SAR, the rate at which head tissue absorbs radiation. The higher the SAR number, the more radiation emitted.

In the United States, federal regulations cap the SAR level at 1.6 watts per kilogram.

The Environmental Working Group recently published a 2009 ranking of all digital cell phones by their SAR levels. For the complete list, go to

Low-radiation models (in watts per kilogram)

1. Samsung Impression SGH-a877: 0.15-0.35

2. Motorola RAZR V8: 0.36

3. Samsung SGH-t229: 0.38

4. Samsung Rugby SGH-a837: 0.22-0.46

5. Samsung Propel Pro SGH-i627: 0.14-0.47

High-radiation models:

1. Motorola MOTO VU204: 1.55

2. myTouch 3G: 1.55

3. Kyocera Jax S1300: 1.55

4. Blackberry Curve 8330: 1.54

5. Motorola W385: 1.54

The final results of an international study intended to produce definitive evidence on whether cell phones cause cancer could be released any day now.

But those findings likely will just deepen an already acrimonious debate that has lasted about 20 years.

Nine years ago, the World Health Organization launched Interphone to determine whether brain tumors can be linked to electromagnetic radiation from cell phones. The researchers analyzed cell phone use by 14,000 people in 13 countries. Half of the participants had brain tumors; half did not.

Field work for the study ended in 2006, but a final paper has yet to be published.

This much is known: Based on single-nation studies that are part of Interphone, there appears to be no clear connection between cell phone use and some types of brain cancers. These reports don't rule out an elevated risk for people who have used cell phones for at least 10 years.

Therein lies the crux and conundrum of the ongoing debate: Has enough time passed to identify and quantify the cancer risk posed by cell phones? It typically takes 15 to 20 years from first exposure to a carcinogen until definitive cancer diagnosis, says the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Brain tumors can develop 30 to 40 years before detection.

"We're beginning to see elevations of brain tumors and acoustic neuromas (a type of benign brain tumor) with shorter latencies, especially in Scandinavian countries where cell phones have been used longer," said Dr. David Carpenter, director of the Institute for Health and Environment at the State University of New York-Albany.

Even though mobile phones have been in wide use only since the 1990s, a chorus of activists, doctors and scientists say enough credible research exists to justify taking precautionary measures.

"There are 4 billion cell phone users in the world and the number keeps growing. If even 10 percent of long-term cell phone users get a brain tumor … then that means there will (one day) be 400 million cell phone-induced brain tumors," said Lloyd Morgan, a retired electronics engineer and director of the Bioelectromagnetics Society in Frederick, Md., which promotes research on the effects of electromagnetic radiation on living organisms.

"There's going to be a pandemic."

Some countries have taken action. Norway, Britain and Israel have issued public statements cautioning that cell phones pose a potential health risk, particularly to children and pregnant women.

Proposals have been circulated in Europe and the United States to label cell phones and other wireless devices with warnings similar to those on tobacco and alcohol products. France is considering banning cell phone advertising targeted at children younger than 12, and it may outlaw sales of mobile phones that lack earphones.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which doesn't review cell phone safety but can order recalls for them, said current scientific evidence doesn't merit intervention. It does recommend using cell phones sparingly, and always with earphones or a hands-free device.

Without doubt, some forms of electromagnetic radiation are harmful. Ultraviolet rays from the sun, X-rays from machines and gamma rays from space contain enough ionizing energy to break strands of DNA, causing mutations that can lead to cancer.

Cell phones operate well below such frequencies. They produce non-ionizing radiation that physicists say is too weak to sever the chemical bonds of life. The energy generated by a cell phone is weaker than visible light by a factor of about 1 million, said S.T. Lakshmikumar, a researcher at the National Physical Laboratory in India.

"If someone is claiming the damage is cumulative, they need to demonstrate where and how," Lakshmikumar said.

Robert L. Park, an emeritus professor of physics at the University of Maryland, made this analogy: If you are trying to hit something across a river with a rock, you might reasonably expect to occasionally strike the target as long as you threw enough rocks.

"But it won't matter how many stones you throw if you can't throw that far," Park said. "Personally I hate the damn things and never carry one, but cell phones don't cause cancer."

Morgan countered that demands for an explanatory mechanism are examples of "anti-scientific thinking."

In science, he said, "first there is data that cannot be explained by the known mechanisms of the time. The data are accepted, not rejected, because there is no known mechanism. Then much later, with an enormous scientific effort, the mechanism is understood."

So is the gathered information acceptable?

Four decades of laboratory research have shown that non-ionizing radiation poses no significant, measurable health threat to animals, cells or DNA. Anecdotes abound of people developing brain tumors on the side where they used their cell phones.

The question is whether such cases amount to anything significant, and that's where epidemiological studies such as Interphone are supposed to come into play. By looking for patterns of illness and disease in large numbers of people, it's often possible to parse out causes.

Such studies on cell phones have proven to be problematic with plentiful allegations of bias, misinterpretation and misinformation. Much of the current research is funded by the wireless communications industry.

The Interphone study is considered to be significantly flawed, perhaps irreparably so. There are concerns that its participants don't accurately represent the population. The study defines "regular mobile phone use" as using a phone once a week for at least six months. Also, scientists asked participants to recall cell phone use dating back years, something few people can do with accuracy.

Researchers struggled to account for how cell phone technology has changed — older, analog-based devices operate at different frequencies and power levels than newer, digital models. They also found it hard to adjust for differences in how people use their phones. Some people hold cell phones close to their head while others rely primarily on texting, which moves the phone away from the head but may increase radiation to the hands.

In a paper published in the March 2009 issue of the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, Michael Kundi, director of the Institute of Environmental Health at the Medical University of Vienna, evaluated 33 peer-reviewed epidemiologic studies on cell phone use.

Kundi concluded that while the studies generally indicate an increased cancer risk, the research was flawed by various biases and lack of long-term data.

In other words, he said, nobody knows anything for sure.

Submitted by Sharon


Comment sent to the above reporter -

Scott LaFee
Re - Cell phones

Hi Scott

Cell phones receive and emit a strong amount of microwave radiation, millions of times higher than humans were exposed to just a few years ago.

The health effects of microwave radiation have been known for more than sixty years and the radiation is known to cause cancers and many other serious health effects.

To understand the damage that cell phones will do to the human population and the environment, you need to study the health effects of microwave radiation.

Much research can be read in the BioInitiative Report at .

I will gladly send you important research articles on this important topic if you request.

Martin Weatherall