Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Electrosmog can be bad for health / Wireless concerns / Lab rats with cellphones? / Micro-Ondes / Runaway cars

Electrosmog can be bad for health


People may not realize the amount of 'electrosmog' that surrounds them every day. Students, faculty, and the public had the opportunity gain some information about the hazards of electrosmog – various forms of wireless technology – on their health as part of the Lakehead University Speaker Series held Monday night in the Agora.

"When we are talking about wifi, we're really talking about the tip of the iceberg," Dr. Magda Havas explained during her presentation.

Havas outlined a variety of sources that contribute to what she calls electrosmog, including cellphones, cordless phones and smart metres.

She said that more and more people are identifying themselves as being sensitive to electromagnetic fields. She cited physical symptoms people may experience following long-term exposure to EMF, including dizziness, headaches, nausea, rashes, shortness of breath, heart palpitations, fluctuations in blood sugar and, in severe cases, seizure and stroke.

Dr. David Fancy, a fellow presenter, related his own experiences with electromagnetic sensitivity.

"People don't believe others can be sensitive to electromagnetic fields," Fancy said. "They write them off as hypochondriacs or stressed.

"The human body wants to be healthy," he continued. "Much more work has to be done and different technologies have to be developed. It's a no-brainer."

The university has refused to install wireless technology on campus, citing health concerns. It has become a hot-topic issue, garnering international attention, and angering some students and staff.

Lakehead president Fred Gilbert has received the most flak when it comes to the wireless policy.

Asked if he thinks the presentation would help sway people's minds, he said: "Probably not.

"I think a lot of people have accepted this as part of their lives and they don't want to hear anything that says they shouldn't be using it.

"If people won't go in and educate themselves based upon that knowledge, there's nothing that I can do or anyone else can say that will change their attitude," Gilbert continued.

There were those in the large crowd who made their opinions known.

Lakehead students Jessica Shaw and Thomas Grinnell arrived wearing tin hats.

"Tin hats are to prevent any wireless waves that may be floating around campus right now," Shaw told The Chronicle-Journal. "It's a bit of a poke at the issue.

"From a student perspective, it is definitely easier and beneficial to have wireless," she explained. "Off campus, wireless is everywhere, be it through cellphones or internet connections, so it certainly comes across as an impediment to not have wireless access on campus."

But not all students at LU are pro-wireless.

"I think I got a lot more information and a lot more confirmation," Katie Simpson said after the presentations. She said she has experienced the ill-effects of electromagnetic sensitivity, which doctors told her wasn't possible.

"Coming here validated what it is I'm experiencing," Simpson said.

Simpson urges those who are pro-wireless to look at it from a different direction.

"I think you could say the same thing for allergies," she said. "It's a big inconvenience that you can't bring peanut butter to school . . . for lunches. You're not experiencing that allergic reaction and you're not seeing the problem with it. I think if people had more information on it they would have a greater respect for it."


Wireless concerns

By Jamie Smith

Jamie Smith
Dr. Henry Lai

Radiation emitted from electronics could be harmful to your health and will become a major health concern to Canadians in the coming years say some experts.

Dr. Henry Lai was one of three speakers at Lakehead University Monday evening during Health Impacts of Exposure to Wireless Radiation. Lai, from the department of bioengineering at the University of Washington said if asked 10 years ago whether radiation from wireless signals and cell phones was harmful he would have said "no". But after his research in "Biological effects of non-ionizing electromagnetic fields" Lai said he's changed his mind. Lai said while using a cell phone, 80 per cent of the high intensity radiation is absorbed into the hand and head. Transmissions from wireless routers or broadcast towers expose people to low intensity and long-term radiation.

"It's involuntary," Lai said of the radiation being transmitted through the open environment. "No matter where you go you're exposed."

Lai said new research is showing that exposure to frequencies emitted by these technologies leads to enhanced free radical activity in the body's cells which leads to cell damage and even cell death.

DNA strands break when exposed to radiation which need to reform. Lai said when DNA reforms it can make "mistakes" which leads to mutations.

Studies show radiation breaks strands of DNA which then need to reform. Can lead to the DNA making "mistakes" which cause mutations.

"Radiation breaks the DNA into small chunks," Lai said. "That's not good news."

Lai said his research has also shown that the effects of radiation on health depends largely on where the funding for research comes from. He said with wireless industry funding a lot of the research out there, governments need to increase their funding into wireless technologies and its biological effects.

Currently Canada is funding very little research while the United States has funded virtually no studies on wireless technology Lai said.

"The government should come out and support research," Lai said.

Trent University's Dr. Magda Havas has been studying the biological effects of electromagnetic pollution or "electrosmog" in the environment caused by everything from cordless phones to televisions in the home.

She said if the audience only took one piece of advice from her during the evening, it would be to remove cordless phones from their home which can emit as much radiation as a cell phone tower.

"If we continue to do this we will be suffering the consequences," Havas said. "This type of technology should definitely be banned."

She estimates over one million Canadians have some form of electrohypersensitivity caused by "dirty electricity" in the environment. While most suffer milder symptoms such as headaches or dizziness when exposed, Havas said she has been studying much more sever cases as well. While working with a woman suffering from MS, Havas noticed the woman had severe tremors. After removing appliances causing electrosmog, such as a large plasma television, from the woman's home Havas said the woman improved significantly. A diabetic studied by Havas showed electromagnetic activity increased the person's blood sugar level. Havas said Lakehead University is fortunate to have wired internet only.

Some students, however, weren't convinced by the speakers. Lakehead student Tom Grinnell was one of two people who showed up to the Agora wearing a pie plate for a hat. Grinnell said he wanted to bring some comic relief to the evening. While he's not opposed to debating the merits of wireless internet at the school he thinks Lakehead University needs it.

Grinnell said he works in an office at the university with three people and one internet connection which can be troublesome.

"It should be a leader in technology," Grinnell said. "A lot of the classrooms, they're not really equipped for the technology that we need."

While experts on the other side of the issue were invited to speak, all declined the invitation said emcee Colin Bruce.


Lab rats with cellphones?

Our wireless lifestyle is making us all unwitting test subjects,0,2567529.story

By Christopher Ketcham

February 23, 2010

We love our digital gadgets -- "magic" devices that define cool and promise to remake our lives for the better. But there is growing evidence of a dark side to the techno-magic. Your cellphone, and any other wireless device that depends on electromagnetic (EM) microwave radiation to function, may be hazardous to your health.

Most of the bad news comes from major labs and research institutions in Europe. What they're reporting is that using cellphones and Wi-Fi transmitters -- which operate using similar frequencies -- can have biological effects on the brain and body.

The scientific debate remains heated and far from resolved, as the Health section in The Times reported last week. But the research to date suggests a number of chilling possibilities as to what EM radiation may be doing to us.

For example, in 2008, neuroscientists at Swinburne University of Technology in Australia strapped Nokia phones to subjects' heads, then turned the phones on and off. On -- the brain's alpha waves spiked. Off -- the brain settled. The researchers speculated that the effect was the result of the brain "concentrating to overcome the electrical interference in brain circuits caused by the pulsed microwave radiation."

Swedish neuro-oncologist Leif Salford, chairman of the department of neurosurgery at Lund University, has found that cellphone radiation kills brain cells in rats, especially those cells associated with memory and learning. The damage occurred after an exposure of just two hours. In duplicating earlier research, Salford also found that cellphone microwaves produce holes in the barrier between the circulatory system and the brain in rats. One potential outcome, according to Salford, is dementia.

Meanwhile, Austrian researchers reported in 2004 that cellphone radiation can induce double-strand breaks in DNA, one of the undisputed causes of cancer.

So why isn't this a bigger issue in the U.S.? Partly because there are countervailing studies and other scientists telling us not to be worried, that the risks are low or that we just don't know enough to say that the risks are real.

Consider the biggest study being done on the question of whether cellphones cause cancers of the brain, mouth and ear -- the 13-country Interphone study conducted under the auspices of the International Agency for Research on Cancer in France. The study's epidemiologists have looked at cancer patients and worked backward to establish cellphone habits.

The study, alas, has been fraught with controversy.

The multinational researchers -- U.S. scientists conspicuously not among them -- have fallen into warring camps, and the full study has not been released.

However, pieces of the study have been made public. One Interphone study, for example, found that after a decade of cellphone use, the chance of getting a brain tumor goes up as much as 40% for adults.

Another Interphone study reported a nearly 300% increased risk of acoustic neuroma, a tumor of the acoustic nerve. But still other Interphone researchers say their data show no increase in brain tumors -- or any tumor -- caused by cellphone use.

The cellphone industry lobby, CTIA -- the Wireless Assn., recently said in a statement that "peer-reviewed scientific evidence has overwhelmingly indicated that wireless devices do not pose a public health risk." Meanwhile, watchdog groups keep it vague. "The available science," says the Food and Drug Administration, "does not allow us to conclude that mobile phones are absolutely safe, or that they are unsafe."

So whom to believe, and what to do?

First, consider research done by Henry Lai, a biologist at the University of Washington: Only 25% of studies funded by the wireless industry show some type of biological effect from microwave radiation. Independently funded studies, however, are far more damning: 75% of those studies -- free of industry influence -- show a bioeffect. Some 30% of funding for the Interphone research was provided by industry, which critics say has resulted in a favorable skewing of some Interphone data.

Obviously, we need to demand more independent research into microwave radiation. In the meantime, we should also treat cellphones and other wireless gadgets with less adoration and more suspicion, and as individuals we may want to follow the lead of many nations and regulate the way we use them for ourselves.

For example, Belgium, France, Finland, Germany, Russia and Israel have publicly discouraged use of cellphones by children. (Independent research in Sweden last year concluded there was an astonishing 420% increased chance of getting brain cancer for cellphone users who were teenagers or younger when they first started using their phones.) France has gone so far as to issue a generalized national cellphone health warning, banned cellphones in elementary schools and considered outlawing marketing the phones to children.

The personal equivalent? For starters, don't get rid of your land line. Buy a hands-free device; keep your cellphone away from your head, face and neck. Don't carry it in your pocket for hours on end(there's some evidence cellphones aren't good for your sperm count).

Salford, the neuro-oncologist, has called the unregulated use of cellphones by 4.5 billion people worldwide "the largest human biological experiment ever." It's only common sense to do what you can to take yourself out of the guinea pig pool.

Christopher Ketcham is the author of "Warning: Your Cell Phone May Be Hazardous to Your Health" in February's GQ.

Copyright © 2010, The Los Angeles Times


Collectif SEMO - Sauvons nos Enfants des Micro-Ondes


Voici un lien pour le communiqué  du 23 février 2010 du Collectif SEMO

À titre de journaliste, si vous voulez un point de vue original au sujet des antennes relais :

Contacter le Bloc Québécois et demander ce qu'il advient du dépôt au Parlement de la pétition de 1100 noms du SEMO, ainsi que de la demande de créer un sous-comité sur les micro-ondes au comité de la santé de la chambre des communes.   Dans la région de Montréal, plus de 5600 personnes ont signé des pétitions contre des antennes relais…Les autorités municipales veulent une intervention à Ottawa !

Dernière minute : l'INRSPQ, qui depuis mars 2009 est saisi du dossier des micro-ondes et qui doit produire un rapport à la demande de la Santé publique du Québec- reporte pour une 4ième fois sa publication : pas avant l'été 2010…   Attendent-ils  que Vidéotron ait terminé l'implantation de toutes ses antennes…?


1-Vidéotron abuse de son pouvoir

2-Antenne sur un immeuble : Danger :  électrosensibilité à Montréal et à Toronto

3-Mercier: 540 signatures contre une antenne: appui du Maire et de la Députée

4-Ville St-Laurent, pétition en ligne contre une antenne

5-Pas de recherche au Canada sur les micro-ondes - Refus de financement...

6-Montréal-Nord, antenne relais autorisée dans les sept clochers de l'arrondissement !?

7-Wi-max en Estrie, À Sutton, on organise une journée d'information, 46 antennes prévues…

Merci de votre intérêt,

François Therrien

Enseignant en Électricité

Porte-parole du Collectif S.E.M.O.

Sauvons nos Enfants des Micro-Ondes


Could electronics be what's causing runaway cars?

By Jayne O'Donnell, USA TODAY

Allegations of unintended acceleration by Toyota models that are not part of the recall and by cars from other automakers have revived debate over whether electromagnetic interference is the cause of such incidents.

The theory is that electrical signals — from sources as diverse as cellphones, airport radar and even a car's own systems — briefly and unpredictably wreak havoc with sensitive electronic controls in vehicles. It's an argument trial lawyers and consumer advocates have made for years.

GRAPHIC: How electromagnetic interference may affect cars

LOOMING PROBLEM? All-electric cars mean more EMI

CONSUMER CAUTION: Cellphones can cause car trouble

Automakers contend that vehicle systems are designed with sufficient shielding and redundancy to prevent such malfunctions. They have tested for electromagnetic interference (EMI) and found no evidence of it for as long as plaintiff lawyers have blamed it for crashes. Several acceleration suits filed against Toyota claim an EMI link.

It's virtually impossible to prove EMI caused a crash. Plaintiffs have won just one case arguing that issue alone. But there are enough unexplainable crashes and acceleration incidents to keep the door open to allegations.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration now is investigating whether EMI could be a factor in Toyota's sudden-acceleration problems. It is NHTSA's first serious look at EMI in decades, and members of Congress will explore it in Toyota hearings beginning today.

"If these congressional hearings probe deeply enough, they'll discover that the car industry has known from the beginning that the most likely cause of sudden acceleration is internal electromagnetic interference," charges Tom Murray, a Sandusky, Ohio, attorney who has brought dozens of acceleration lawsuits and is writing a book on sudden acceleration.

Toyota, however, says floor mat interference and sticky gas pedals are the causes of unintended acceleration in the more than 8 million vehicles it has recalled in the USA for either problem. It commissioned an outside company, Exponent, in December to look at the electronic throttle controls, which have replaced mechanical gas pedal and throttle systems in most vehicles of all makes since the 1990s.

According to a draft report obtained by USA TODAY, Exponent says it could not induce unintended acceleration through "electrical disturbances."

But Keith Armstrong, a United Kingdom-based EMI expert, argues that the tests weren't comprehensive enough to find whether EMI could be to blame. Two experts consulted by the House Energy & Commerce Committee, which is holding today's hearing, were similarly critical. The panel's leadership called it a flawed report, but Toyota says it is far from final and will be peer-reviewed.

NHTSA says it "has no reason at this point to believe" EMI is causing unintended acceleration in Toyotas. Still, looking at it anew is a turnabout. In 1975, a NHTSA report warned that EMI was a potential problem as electronics, just then being used in cars, became more common. Since then, however, its acceleration studies concluded that driver behavior was to blame and didn't address EMI.

Murray, who says he was contacted by NHTSA defect investigators last month, believes that is a mistake. He blames EMI for all but "1% to 2% of all Toyota sudden-acceleration cases" and most of those in other vehicles, too. At least 14 sudden-acceleration lawsuits alleging EMI are pending, including ones against Toyota.

Onboard EMI sources

While EMI from external sources, such as traffic lights or radar, is possible, it is unlikely because it would require an unusually strong signal, says Brian Kirk, a U.K.-based consultant in software safety systems who advises in auto lawsuits. More likely sources are onboard components, he says, because even very low-power electromagnetic radiation from the car's electronics could cause a problem. He says, for example, that EMI from poorly designed ignition wiring could disrupt signals in the electronic throttle or engine controls.

Internal EMI has been linked, Armstrong says, to high-voltage spikes when current in a wire or coil is switched, such as when the headlights or brake lights go off.

Automakers' move to electronic engine controls, including throttles, has been driven by the need to meet tighter federal fuel and emissions regulations. They allow far more precise control of the engine operation and fuel use. Recent years have seen so-called drive-by-wire systems replacing mechanical control of other critical functions, such as steering assist.

Automakers' quiet concerns

Testing for potential EMI is a closely guarded subject within automakers. But lawsuits over the years have uncovered documents citing internal concern.

Walter Gelon, then an employee at General Motors-owned Hughes Aircraft, warned in early 1987 that he thought EMI was behind reported unintended acceleration in GM vehicles, according to an internal memo obtained by Murray's law firm, Murray & Murray.

"It seems very clear to me that (GM) vehicles have serious EMI problems which are triggering ... unwanted acceleration," Gelon wrote to Hughes colleagues.

But a late 1988 report provided by GM showed Hughes largely ruled out EMI as a cause of sudden acceleration after a lengthy GM investigation.

GM still holds that position. "GM has a robust testing and validation process for electromagnetic compatibility (among systems), and there is nothing past or current that suggests any unwanted acceleration issues related to EMI in our vehicles," says spokesman Alan Adler.

Also in the 1980s, as use of electronics in cars expanded fast, EMI was on the minds of Ford engineers. The minutes of an October 1986 Ford Technical Affairs Committee meeting, provided by Murray & Murray, show Ford looked into whether "electromagnetic influences" were behind an increase in unexplainable electronic component failures.

Spokesman Said Deep said Ford later ruled out "electrical interference problems" and gave dealers better diagnostic equipment and training, which reduced the number of such warranty claims.

Armstrong, who was interviewed this month by NHTSA defect investigators, says "automakers almost never publicly acknowledge EMI problems," but he remains sure they exist.

"Why would (automakers) spend millions of dollars on sophisticated EMC (electromagnetic compatibility) test facilities, and place EMC test requirements on all their electronic suppliers, if it wasn't necessary?" asks Armstrong, who is president of the U.K.-based EMC Industry Association. He was an expert witness in a Ford sudden-acceleration case this month and is advising lawyers suing Toyota.

Armstrong reviewed the Exponent draft report on Toyota's electronic throttles and called it "complete baloney." He asserts that the "redundant" backup sensors the report suggests protect against EMI are ineffective because they are based on the same technology. He believes two different technologies must be used to keep multiple sensors from being affected in the same way at the same time.

Dozens of EMI testing centers

Automakers say they try to test for all possible electronic signals that could affect cars. There are dozens of EMI auto testing facilities in the U.S. and Mexico, including centers owned by GM and Ford.

Lee Hill, founding partner of Silent Solutions, which does EMI testing and consulting on autos says, "Anything with electronics has some vulnerability, but every important system on an automobile is tested very carefully."

Hill says automakers have been testing for EMI since the 1960s, even before electronics controlled vital systems. He says that in addition to testing of onboard systems, vehicles are bombarded in a lab with external radio waves and driven through areas where there is known radio-wave interference.

Ford's Deep says: "We have not seen issues from EMI or any other signal disturbances from external sources. We do also test extensively and rigorously for internal sources. Ford vehicles are designed to prevent unwanted acceleration by protecting against, detecting and evaluating electrical interferences."

Toyota is building an EMI test facility in Ann Arbor, Mich., and already has one in Japan.

"We have never found ... any issue of acceleration from the electronics," Kristen Tabar, general manager of electronic systems for Toyota Motor Engineering and Manufacturing, North America, said Monday during a briefing for journalists on Toyota electronics testing. "If interference did occur beyond what our testing would have found, (the system) would detect it and act appropriately."

Toyota President Akio Toyoda said last week that its cars have "fail-safe" systems that shut the cars down when electrical interferences occur, a feature auto-engineering experts say is now standard in the industry.

Proving anything is tough

Certainty may remain elusive.

Mukul Verma, formerly one of GM's top safety experts, points out that electronic throttle controls may be affected by other electrical and electronic systems, including those in the car, and that unintended acceleration may result from car sensor malfunctions, software glitches or from "electromagnetic interferences, which are random and still not fully understood."

Verma, an adjunct professor of mechatronics (the relationship between mechanical and electronic components) at Lawrence Technological University in Southfield, Mich., points up the difficulty in being able to "rule in or rule out" EMI as a factor in sudden acceleration. "It's just too hard to prove either way. The thing with electrical currents is, once they are done and gone, there's no trace level. You can't reconstruct any phenomenon caused by electrical current going into a computer."

Contributing: Sharon Silke Carty