On different wavelengths over EMFs
Do the electromagnetic fields of power lines, cells and Wi-Fi cause harm? Experts disagree, so anxieties persist.
(L-R: Philippe Lopez / AFP / Getty Images; Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times; Barbara Davidson / Los Angeles Times)
By Chris Woolston >
February 15, 2010
Three years ago, at the age of 48, Camilla Rees had to leave her apartment in downtown San Francisco. Not because of the rent, she says, but because of the radiation.
Her personal radiation meter -- yes, such things exist -- spiked after a lawyer couple moved in next door. Rees asked the neighbors if they had installed a new Wi-Fi router, and sure enough they had, on the wall near Rees' bed. Rees says she quickly lost her ability to think clearly. "I was unfocused, as if I had suddenly come down with ADHD. I would wake up dizzy in the morning. I'd collapse to the floor. I had to leave to escape that nightmare."
Since then, Rees, a former investment banker, has been on a crusade against low-level electromagnetic fields, or EMFs, of all types, including the microwave radiation that flows from cellphones and cellphone towers and the magnetic forces surrounding power lines. She co-wrote the 2009 book "Public Health SOS: The Shadow Side of the Wireless Revolution," one of many recent books to warn against the dangers of EMFs, and founded the website electro magnetichealth.org.
"I'm one of the few people I know who has been able to recover from EMF," Rees says. "Other people are still suffering. They're disabled. I know people who have to live in trailers because the metal walls protect them."
Scientists can't agree on how electromagnetic fields might harm human health -- or even if there's any harm at all -- but that hasn't stopped waves of EMF panic from reaching new heights across the world, especially in Europe. The concern is building in this country too. U.S. activists and some researchers are loudly warning that electromagnetic pollution, or "electrosmog," is spreading death and disease, including cancer, infertility, Alzheimer's disease and autism. Last December, Rees and other activists led a panel discussion of the dangers of EMFs at Columbia Law School in New York City. An article in the February issue of GQ magazine suggests that cellphones are setting off a new worldwide epidemic of brain cancers.
Although the World Health Organization, the National Institutes of Health and many other major health organizations have officially declared that EMFs seem to pose little threat, governments are worrying too. Last April, the European Parliament passed a resolution (on a vote of 559 to 22) that called for countries to take major steps to reduce exposure to EMFs. Both San Francisco and Maine are currently considering requiring cancer warning labels on cellphones.
We live in a highly plugged-in world in which grade school students carry cellphones and adults move from one Wi-Fi hot spot to another. A recent survey from the Kaiser Family Foundation found that typical teens spend an hour and 20 minutes on a cellphone every day.
In the opinion of Ken Foster, a professor of bioengineering at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia who has studied EMFs since the early 1970s, if such fields were any sort of health threat, scientists wouldn't have to sort through the outer limits of statistics to find trouble.
"There would be terrible effects all over the place," Foster says. As no obvious catastrophe has shown itself, "I would tend to think there's nothing there." (Keeping with the general tenor of the EMF debate, at least one researcher counters that Foster is "full of it" and "doesn't know what he's talking about.")
Dr. Martha Linet, chief of radiation epidemiology at the National Cancer Institute, has spent much of her career looking for any link between EMFs and cancer. She says studies so far suggest a weak connection, so weak that it might not exist at all.
She's now awaiting the final results of the Interphone study -- a large, multinational exploration specifically of cellphones and brain cancer partially funded by the European Union, partially by a cellphone industry group -- conducted in 13 countries outside the U.S. The final report should come out later this year, but data so far don't suggest a strong link between cellphone use and cancer risk, Linet says.
"I don't support warning labels for cellphones," Linet says. "We don't have the evidence that there's much danger. 'Don't use this while driving' -- now that's a warning I could get behind."
David Carpenter, who is a professor of environmental health sciences and biomedical sciences at the University at Albany, State University of New York, has analyzed the same studies that Linet and Foster have analyzed, but he's reached a very different conclusion. (For a closer look at these studies, see the related story.) Carpenter estimates that there's a greater than 95% chance that power lines can cause childhood leukemia and a greater than 90% chance that cellphones can cause brain tumors.
"It's apparent now that there's a real risk," Carpenter says. "The evidence is growing stronger every day."
In scientific circles, Carpenter is one of the loudest voices sounding the alarm against EMFs. He has written numerous scientific articles on the subject, and he was one of the contributors to the BioInitiative Report, a 2007 document that outlined theoretical dangers from EMFs and called for new safety standards for power lines and cellphone emissions.
There's one overriding reason why the scientific community at large isn't especially worried about low-level EMFs: To the minds of many, it's not physically possible for the small amounts of energy flowing from cellphones, Wi-Fi routers or power lines to have any effect on the human body.
Robert Park, professor emeritus of physics at the University of Maryland and author of "Voodoo Science: The Road From Foolishness to Fraud," published in 2000, literally laughs at the idea. "I don't understand how anyone with a knowledge of science could believe this stuff. I'm troubled that there's still such a deep division" among scientists.
It's true that cellphones and cellphone towers emit microwaves, which can sound scary to anyone who has ever burned something in a microwave oven. But microwaves have relatively long wavelengths -- and thus little energy. A light wave coming from a desk lamp has more energy than a microwave coming from a cellphone.
According to Park, these microwaves aren't nearly powerful enough to break apart DNA, which is how known threats such as UV rays and X-rays cause cancer. As long as a person doesn't absorb enough microwaves to actually cook themselves, he says, the energy would be far too feeble to do any damage.
Further, the fields around power lines (often called extremely low frequency, or ELF, fields) are much less powerful than the radiation from cellphones, Park adds, making any threats from power lines that much less plausible.
Lab studies have shown that rats and other animals can live quite happily in EMFs much stronger than any plugged-in, BlackBerry-toting human would ever experience. But such studies offer no comfort to Carpenter. "We're not concerned about the health of rats," he says. "We're concerned about the health of people."
Carpenter agrees that low-level EMFs aren't nearly powerful enough to directly break apart DNA. But he points out that many cancers are still poorly understood, and he strongly believes that low-level EMFs have enough power to cause mischief. "The evidence that some cells respond to electrical fields is overwhelming," he says. "Anybody who knows anything about biology knows that they can have an effect."
One possible scenario, according to Carpenter, is that low-level EMFs can encourage production of free radicals, destructive molecules that can damage cells and perhaps even break up DNA. It's already well-known that ultraviolet rays can create free radicals, and some laboratory studies suggest that low-level EMFs can do the same.
In 2008, Ashok Agarwal, director of research at the Center for Reproductive Medicine at the Cleveland Clinic, published a study showing that men who spent a lot of time on cellphones tended to have unusually low sperm counts. He has also conducted laboratory studies showing that cellphone radiation could damage sperm in test tubes.
Agarwal says there's not enough evidence to tell men with fertility problems to give up their cellphones, although he personally believes that spending 10 hours a day on the phone isn't exactly a fertility-friendly lifestyle, radiation or no. Men who want to protect themselves can simply put their cellphones in their shirt or jacket pocket instead of their pants pocket, he says. "It's a little inconvenient, but it might be safer."
Rees has her own defense strategy. She shuns cellphones and spends as much time as she can in low-EMF areas. "I like to spend time in the mountains and by the sea," she says. Getting far away from power lines and Wi-Fi hot spots feels relaxing and rejuvenating, she says.
Undoubtedly, that's true. But does her health -- or anyone's -- have anything to do with EMFs? That argument isn't over.
Copyright © 2010, The Los Angeles Times
Steeple for cell antennas?
By Diana Warren
Posted Feb 11, 2010 @ 01:49 PM
The First Parish Unitarian Church may someday soon attempt to lease its steeple for cell antennas. If the church signs a wireless contract it will become an accomplice in what scientists refer to as the largest worldwide biological experiment ever.
By inking a deal with T-Mobile, the church will sanction the involuntary exposure of children and families, two nursery schools, a large day care center nearby, and others in the neighborhood to manmade microwave radiofrequency radiation (RFR). All would become guinea pigs in the wireless experiment.
The current scientific evidence (yes, it's peer-reviewed, weighty and alarming) has established proof of adverse biological effects from these RFR (and EMF) exposures. The biological effects at the cellular level include DNA breaks and chromosome aberrations, cell death including death of brain neurons, increased free radical production, micronuclei formation, compromised blood-brain barrier, heat shock protein formation, immune system suppression, calcium ion efflux, increased cell proliferation, and melatonin and dopamine suppression.
The scientific evidence links biological effects to various health consequences, cancers (including brain tumors), neurodegenerative diseases (Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, ALS and MS), leukemia, miscarriage, and loss of fertility.
Other health effects are sleep disorders, fatigue, headaches, skin rashes, and impairment of cognitive function.
Cindy Sage, MA, co-editor of "The Bioinitiative Report," writes, "Can RFR adversely affect vital processes in the human body? The answer is clearly yes."
In 2007 an international scientific group released "The Bioinitiative Report" (www.bioinitiative.org), a 650-page review summarizing the world's understanding about the biological effects of RFR and ELF (extremely low frequencies). This groundbreaking report concluded scientific evidence indicates the current safety standards (1,000 microwatts/cm2 for cell antennas) formulated by industry associations, mostly engineering groups and adopted by the FCC, do not protect the public.
The report recommends a new "biologically based" safety limit of 0.1 microwatt/cm2 (0.614 V/m) for outdoor, cumulative RF exposure to "reflect the current RF science and prudent public health response that would reasonably be set for pulsed RF (ambient) exposures where people live, work and go to school." This safety limit is 10,000 times stricter than the FCC limit.
In 1999 the U.S. Interagency RF Working Group identified flaws in the FCC's current standard which is based on science as of 1986. The standard only considers exposing a 6-foot tall male (not a fetus, pregnant woman, infant, child, the ill or elderly, or people with medical or metal implants, who wear metal objects, or are electrohypersensitive).
The FCC standard is based on the false theory that a person is harmed only if his or her skin heats (the thermal effect). That standard is also based on physics and engineering models, not on biology; on short-term exposures of six minutes, not chronic 24-7 exposures (near cell antennas); on exposure from a single antenna, not multiple antennas; and on exposures at 6 feet above ground, not exposures to people inhabiting spaces above the first floor.
The FCC admitted to Congress that it adopted a standard set by industry organizations because the FCC has "no expertise" in health.
How does the power density of the microwave radiation from T-Mobile's antennas, which may end up in First Parish's steeple, compare with the recommendation from "The Bioinitiative Report"?
According to the San Francisco Department of Health, one T-Mobile installation would emit up to 190 microwatts/cm2 which is 1,900 times greater than the limit from "The Bioinitiative Report." This means our cells "react" at a level of exposure 1,900 times lower than the level of radiation exposure our bodies will be subjected to from the T-Mobile antenna. So, contrary to what some industry engineers and physicists claim about "harmless low watts of power," the T-Mobile antenna would "give" our cells quite a zap.
Martin Blank, PhD, of Columbia University and past president of the Bioelectromagnetics Society, says that "DNA in living cells recognizes EMF at very low levels of exposure (cell antennas); and produces a biochemical stress response in the body. The scientific evidence tells us that our safety standards are inadequate. The science is very strong and we should sit up and pay attention."
First Parish has no clue it is a pawn in the worldwide environmental justice struggle between the interests of the trillion dollar multinational telecommunications industry, and their allies, including the U.S. military, and the interests and rights of Americans to be protected, not harmed.
Should we be skeptical of the FCC, the American Cancer Society, and the WHO, when we are told there are no health hazards? Should we believe those who only talk about the mechanical effect (e.g., heat) and not the biological effect of RFR on the human body? Or rather should we listen to the independent experts in the life, health and medical sciences?
Articles such as "Electroshocker" in January's Prevention magazine and "Warning: Your Cell Phone May Be Hazardous to Your Health" in GQ's February issue, and the award-winning film "Full Signal" are eye openers.
Outside the U.S., the telecommunications industry's tight grip is waning. In 2008, the EU Parliament voted 522 to 16 that safety standards for EMF are "obsolete." Belgium, Austria, Italy, Poland, Russia, China, Luxembourg and Switzerland have tightened their safety standards.
In 2008, Lichtenstein adopted the 0.1 microwatts/cm2 limit, and last November, the French government gave 16 municipalities (out of 238 requesting permission) the right to regulate antennas at the lower limit of 0.1 microwatts/cm2 (0.6 V/m), down from 1,000 microwatts/cm2.
European courts are also taking heed. In 2008, the French Versailles Court of Appeals ordered antennas be dismantled, stating the telecom company "had not demonstrated either the absence of risk or respect for any principle of precaution in locating antennas."
In his GQ article, Christopher Ketcham acknowledges that "the evidence (of health risks) is starting to pour in, and it's not pretty. So why isn't anyone in America doing anything about it?"
Until the time our government acts, it is groups, such as First Parish, who must act as the line of defense to protect the public from more exposures to wireless radiation. The neighbors who will be exposed to unwanted RFR are the legitimate stakeholders whose choice to reject the installation of antennas should be honored. The Los Angeles Unified School District acted last year to prohibit cell antennas on or near its property.
Olle Johansson, PhD, of the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, has pondered, "What happens when we, 24 hours around the clock, wherever we are, allow ourselves and our children to be used as guinea pigs, for whole-body-irradiation for the rest of our lives?"
First Parish must decide which is more important – rental money for allowing the use of its steeple for a commercial venture or risking people's health, well-being, even their lives. We should all hope that First Parish will act as a good neighbor and reject T-Mobile's proposed contract.
Diana Warren is former chairwoman of the Wayland Planning Board's Wireless Advisory Committee, director and secretary of The EMR Policy Institute Inc., and a member of The International EMF Alliance.
Eagle Point School Board OKs cell-phone tower at high school
February 12, 2010
By Buffy Pollock
for the Mail Tribune
EAGLE POINT — Jackson County School District 9 board members Wednesday voted 3-2 to place a cell-phone tower in the high school football stadium, bringing the district $60,000 in immediate revenue and a steady income for years to come.
After a public hearing Wednesday night before a standing-room-only crowd, Ted Dole, Scott Grissom and Mary Ann Olsen voted for the tower. Jim Mannenbach and Mark Bateman voted against it.
The Eagle Point Planning Commission had previously approved the proposal, giving the school board final say over an agreement between AT&T and the school district.
Parents' questions primarily focused on health concerns related to exposure to radio waves from what will be the city's first cell-phone tower.
Don Larson, a planning consultant for Cascadia PM, the Olympia, Wash.-based agent pursuing the project for AT&T, told the audience that people who use cell phones are exposed to more radio waves than those who would be in the vicinity of the tower.
"Any health concerns are not even remotely associated with the towers but with the cellular devices," Larson said.
Larson said AT&T typically seeks out community partners when choosing sites for cell- phone towers to allow nonprofit entities to raise money by leasing space for towers.
"We're able to create a significant long-term revenue source for the school district, and we're able to improve reception for AT&T customers at the same time," Larson said.
School board member Grissom had voiced health concerns about the tower before Wednesday's meeting, but he voted in favor.
Board member Dole said there wasn't any negative feedback from the community about the tower.
"Everything I got was positive," Dole said. "We were able to determine there would be no negative health impacts and, I think, any money helps the district with the way revenue is right now.
"This was a situation where AT&T made it clear the tower was going to go in the vicinity of that area no matter what," he said, "so why not let the school collect some revenue?"
Buffy Pollock is a freelance writer living in Medford. E-mail her at email@example.com
Lefferts set up radars that emit powerful electromagnetic radiation.
Defying the odds: Former Fort Bliss soldier seeks to set up brain ...
El Paso Times
Cancer is not the first hurdle he has faced. Gulf War. ... Shield and Desert Storm, Lefferts set up radars that emit powerful electromagnetic radiation
Note - This is a long article and only parts related to electro magnetic radiation have been reproduced. To see the entire article see -
EL PASO -- When Robert Lefferts was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer, he asked a priest he knows to preside over the funeral.
"I was afraid," said Lefferts, 44, a former Fort Bliss air defense soldier. "It was all gloom and doom."
A doctor told the Gulf War veteran he had a year to live. That was in late November.
As a member of a Fort Bliss air defense unit during Desert Shield and Desert Storm, Lefferts set up radars that emit powerful electromagnetic radiation.
"No one told me to stay away," he said. "I walked in front of it many times. You didn't know if it was on or not. You were focused on getting your job done."
Lefferts suffered depression after serving in the first
Gulf War. It led to heavy drinking and a suicide attempt.
"They used to call me 'Walkie-Talkie' because my phone was always ringing," Lefferts said. "People have a hard time getting jobs. Not me. I've got skills and I can get a job like that."
France telecom five suicides since january 2010
five suicides since january 2010
>>> google translation
France Telecom: Two suicide outside the workplace
PARIS - Two employees of France Telecom have committed suicide in recent days outside their workplaces, said Friday the direction that favors or
exclude any hypothesis regarding a possible link with the work.
"The company is in shock," he told AFP spokesman France Telecom group already marked by a series of suicides of employees in 2009. "At the moment, we can neither favor nor exclude any causality," he added.
These two cases bring to five the number of suicides by employees since early January, all outside their workplace, according to the union South.
Management has confirmed all of them.
The last case is that of an employee aged 32, employed in Dijon in the field of business services, who committed suicide on Thursday night at his home.
According to a union source, he was an executive and as 35% of employees of France Telecom, under private law contracts. After stopping long illness, he
returned to work a few months ago.
The other case is that of a technician than fifty years of the Haute-Normandie, who committed suicide in a forest on Tuesday. A police investigation is ongoing, said France Telecom. According to South, it was a
The number of suicides by employees of France Telecom in two years (2008 and 2009) amounted to 35 to 31 last December, according to several unions.
On 1 December, the management announced that it had passed inspection work 32 cases of suicides of employees in two years.
"Since early January, it starts to do much without at least three suicide attempts, it recalls the crisis of July 2009," said Patrick Ackermann (South), also a member of the Observatory of stress and mobility forced France Telecom.
For its part, the CGT, cautious pending further information on these cases, claims "to go faster in the ongoing negotiations on work organization, which is pathological.
The CFDT also expressed "concern" but said she expected the survey results.
GSC / Unsa requested that the inspection work is captured systematically.
To the South, "if reports of Intent" to the next boss of France Telecom, Stéphane Richard, "may mark a turning point in life about the company, now is concrete action."
Mr. Ackermann, "the tension is very strong now, all that management takes time to recognize that suicides are related to the work, including that of a
salaried employee of Annecy (Haute Savoy) September 28 last. A study commissioned by the committee on health and safety (CHSCT) concluded in
connection with work. Management has not yet been classified as an accident service.
The central works council of France Telecom has requested in a motion a few days ago that this be done very quickly. A petition has been launched by
Inter, who has already collected some 1,700 signatures.
France Telecom said on Friday AFP await the findings in early March of an Inspector General of Social Affairs appointed by the Minister of Labor in
November to give an opinion on the recognition of suicide France Telecom staff in accident service.