Wireless Electrical and Electromagnetic Pollution News
24 May 2010
Devra Davis, Ph.D.
author/ founder Environmental Health Trust, Visiting Prof Georgetown University
May 22, 2010
The long awaited World Health Organization Interphone study of more than 5,000 brain tumors that occurred between 2000-2004 and cell phone use failed to deliver a knock-out punch. This thirteen country report found what every study that has ever examined people who have used phones for a decades or more has determined-- top users of cell phones had a doubled risk of malignant tumors of the brain. When looking at all those in their study who had used cell phones to make one call a week for six months or more, compared to those who used cell phones less no such risk was evident. This is unsurprising.
The story behind the story needs to be told. First of all, although the news reports so far do not acknowledge this fact, Interphone is not the only study to find an increased risk in brain tumors with prolonged cell phone use. All studies that have been able to examine people a decade after heavy use began have found increased risk of brain tumors. Second the Interphone study completely ignored the fact that there is a growing experimental literature showing that pulsed microwave-like radiation from modern cell phones disrupts living cells and causes our DNA to become unstable -- signs of cancer and other chronic disease. Third, the Interphone study was delayed close to six years, while authors debated how to present their results. Completed in 2004 and promised by 2005, publication was delayed til now.
Among the leading epidemiologists on the team are those from Israel, Spain and Australia, who proclaim that we know enough now to tell people to take precautions. Others from Canada and Sweden are convinced that we lack sufficient evidence of harm and we should wait twenty years to find out whether or not current patterns of cell phone use in children and the rest of us will produce an epidemic of brain cancer. Much of their work happens to be sponsored by the cell phone industry and forms the basis for a study being launched of a quarter million people in Europe.
In fact, the Interphone study necessarily evaluated out of date technology in use long ago and included no children or teenagers, left out those who are most highly exposed, like rural users who get higher exposures because phones in remote areas emit more radiation trying to reach more distant antennas, did not take into account other experimental or epidemiologic studies on the subject and did not include cordless phone use--which can be just as high as that from cell phones. While most of the cell phone users in the world today are under age thirty, none of those in the study was. Scientists understand that brain tumors often take three or four decades to develop and less than one in ten people in this study had used a phone for even one decade.
Professor Joel Moskowitz of University of California Berkeley combined information from all other studies ever done on brain tumors and cell phones and found "consistent evidence that heavy cell phone use for a decade or longer increases brain tumor risk at least 30%." My colleagues at the University of Pittsburgh also reported similarly elevated risks of tumors of the hearing nerve in long-term cell phone users just last year.
No wonder the public is confused. Headlines of some U.K. papers proclaimed: Long term brain cancer risk increased in heavy cell phone users, while those of the National Cancer Institute's in-house online zine noted -- no general risk from cell phone use. In fact, both headlines are technically true, and there's the rub. All scientists agree that more research is needed. The question is what do we do, while we wait for that research? Should taxpayers in America stand by while information on this issue from other countries is amassed? The United States of America did not participate in this largest study of brain cancer and cell phone use ever carried out and currently there is almost no public health research underway on the questions of cell phone use and autism, chronic neurologic disease or cancer.
Studies by physician-researcher Lennart Hardell of Sweden -- regarded as some of the best efforts in the world on this challenging topic -- concur with the Interphone and Moskowitz results -- those who have used phones heavily for a decade have a doubled risk of brain tumors and teenagers who begin heavy cell phone use have between four to five times more brain tumors by their late twenties. In fact, the French are not waiting for further research on this matter, and are taking steps based on the notion that it is better to be safe than sorry--codifying advice from the European Environment Agency, the Finnish Nuclear Regulatory Safety Authority and the Israeli Health Ministry among others . Both chambers of the French legislature have recently passed legislation requiring a host of simple actions to reduce direct exposures to the brains from cell phones. For starters, all cell phones must be sold with an earpiece or headset to limit direct brain exposure to radiofrequency signals. Advertising to children below age fourteen is banned, as is giving cell phones to children under the age of six. In schools, the use of cell phones is forbidden during all teaching activities. Finally, phones must be sold with labels indicating potential risks from excessive use and the reported exposure in terms of the SAR (specific absorption rate).
In France, Professor Daniel Oberhausen--a leader in cell phone safety -- advises, "The absence of definitive human evidence at this point in time should not be misconstrued as proof of cell phone safety." Prof. Moskowitz, experts from a number of countries and I agree with the French policies: cell phone use should be curtailed in children and should include warning labels, After ten years of use, increased risks from tobacco and asbestos were not clearly evident, yet nobody today doubts that we waited far too long before addressing these important health hazards. For the sake of our children and grandchildren, we should promote simple precautions to reduce direct exposure to the brain by using headsets, speaker phones and texting. This will protect us from whatever health hazards may emerge decades later and also encourage safer development of this revolutionary technology in the meantime.
Award-winning scientist and author, Devra Lee Davis is Founder of Environmental Health Trust, a National Book Award finalist, Carnegie Science Medal winner, author of Disconnect--the truth about cell phone radiation and health, what the industry has done to hide it, and what you can do to protect your family, Dutton, coming September, 2010, and Visiting Professor, Georgetown University. She was the Founding Director of the Board on Environmental Studies and Toxicology at the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, 1983-1993, a Presidential appointee in the Clinton Adminstration to the National Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board, and Founding Director of the Center for Environmental Oncology at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, 2004-2009.
Follow Devra Davis, Ph.D. on Twitter: www.twitter.com/DevraLeeDavis
Huffington Post | Leah Finnegan
According to a new study out of the University of Maryland, students are addicted to social media, and computers and smartphones deliver their drug.
The study, conducted by the school's International Center for Media & the Public Agenda, challenged 200 of the Maryland students to abstain from media for one full day and then blog about the experience. According to report on the school's website, the students typed 110,000 words: "about the same number of words as a 400-page novel."
Susan D. Moeller, the Maryland journalism professor who conducted the study, said she was struck by how the short media blackout personally and emotionally affected students.
"What they spoke about in the strongest terms was how their lack of access to text messaging, phone calling, instant messaging, email and Facebook, meant that they couldn't connect with friends who lived close by, much less those far away," [she said].
"Texting and IM-ing my friends gives me a constant feeling of comfort," wrote one student. "When I did not have those two luxuries, I felt quite alone and secluded from my life. Although I go to a school with thousands of students, the fact that I was not able to communicate with anyone via technology was almost unbearable."
Students also blogged about their "anxiety" in being cut off from media channels -- though a scant few testified that they actually turned to newspapers or radio to get their news in an attempt to calm themselves. Rather, students are accustomed to consuming news through social media.
One student wrote:
"To be entirely honest I am glad I failed the assignment, because if I hadn't opened my computer when I did I would not have known about the violent earthquake in Chile from an informal blog post on Tumblr."
Students said that they only went to traditional mainstream news sites during big events, like the Olympics.
By Sandra Chianfoni
Posted May 23, 2010 @ 06:10 AM
Canandaigua, N.Y. —
I returned to my hometown of Manchester so I could help care for my father, who since passed. Sadly, I discovered, Manchester is dealing with air/noise pollution similar to Massachusetts family and neighbors, which confirmed my suspicion with accounts of the hideous noise. I worried that my father's pain was exacerbated because of it.
I dreaded calling the power company. My experience with Massacusetts National Grid had been difficult. To my surprise, Rochester Gas & Electric immediately responded, listened and monitored the lines. In stark contrast, Massacusetts responded with apathy and improper procedures. The departments of Environmental Protection and Public Utilities did not insist on proper protocol, but rather closed the case. After three years, reams of letters to state offices, 17 binders of tests and a lawyer, the case was reopened.
This pollution is a symptom of the brisk pace of technology, perhaps so brisk it outpaces the infrastructure in place to support it. Because DSL/WiFi, broadband and cable are grounded to the utility's neutral line, the noise from each radiates over power and phone lines, improperly shielded. Experts validate this troubling conclusion. More troubling is research showing links between high frequency transients and cardiovascular disease, sleep disturbances, and skin and intestinal disorders. Most troubling is that this pollution is now the norm, while corporations rake in profits from insatiable consumption, with no interest in prevention or oversight.
We returned to Manchester to conduct a test on April 22. RG&E and Windstream disconnected their wires from my parents' home and a neighbor's home a few doors down, who are on a different transformer. We confirmed the noise is not coming from inside our homes. It is also present during a power outage.
RG&E refused to do any further investigation, such as electromagnetic field readings, and would not respond to a previous test that revealed high harmonics, high currents and amps, and other indications of unusual noise and huge amounts of power being used. The power quality engineer who initially cooperated took an early retirement and his assistant who heard the noise was on vacation when we came back in April.
Manchester reminds me we must stop this pollution. It is for all of us who are not getting the sleep we used to. It is for children and parents who don't understand risks of wireless devices. It is for the electromagnetically sensitive. It is for family pets and wildlife. The impact of this pollution is inescapable, no matter where or how well you hear or feel it.
More information can be found at the Web sites
Until more citizens demand the pollution be mitigated, everyone is at risk.
Sandra Chianfoni is an environmental activist who grew up in Manchester, where she still has family, and lives in Monterey, Mass.
(Note - Rather than noise pollution, I would describe this problem as high frequency pollution and microwave hearing.) Martin
Elizabeth Cardis on the Interphone findings
A new Post "#1260: Elizabeth Cardis on the Interphone findings" was written on the May 23, 2010 at 10:49 am on "EMFacts Consultancy".
Last week in the Australia media, Rodney Croft, from the Australian Centre for Radiofrequency Bioeffects Research (ACRBR) claimed that the just released Interphone study on mobile phone use and cancer "found no evidence that mobile phones cause cancer". He further mentioned that "if a link existed then the study should have revealed it".
I'm surprised that Croft should such a statement because of the long latency period for brain tumours which can be around 10 - 20+ years.
The actual group of participants in the Interphone study who had used a mobile phone for 10 years was very small and therefore its statistical power is weak and therefore very unreliable. Putting it simply, the overall study was insufficient in this important respect and to claim that if a link existed the study should have revealed it is deceptive. Perhaps Croft should have spoken with the Interphone head Elizabeth Cardis (see transcript below) before making unjustified claims on behalf of ACRBR and giving an expert all-clear to mobile phone use.
NOTE that ACRBR is a partner with Telstra, who has a long standing policy that there are no hazards from mobile phones. Perhaps understandable from Telstra's corporate imperatives but for ACRBR that partnership gives one hell of a conflict of interest that could well impact on in its ability to objectively interpret the science and give objective answers, not spin......
From Robert Gregory:
The following transcript is from a broadcast by *Living on Earth* with Steve Curwood, a weekly environmental news and information program distributed by Public Radio International. Every week approximately 300 Public Radio stations broadcast Living on Earth's news, features, interviews and commentary on a broad range of ecological issues. The show airs in 9 of the 10 top radio markets and reaches 80% of the US.
Buried deep within a long anticipated study about cell phones is evidence indicating a strong link between mobile phone use and brain cancer. Living on Earth host Steve Curwood talks with Dr. Elizabeth Cardis, director of the Interphone study, about the findings.
CURWOOD: From the Jennifer and Ted Stanley Studios in Somerville, Massachusetts—this is Living on Earth. I'm Steve Curwood. This week, a scientific controversy that affects just about all of us. The question: how safe are cell phones. And now a major study that was supposed to answer that question is open to question itself. The so-called interphone study started a decade ago when scientists in 13 nations set out to learn if there was a link between cell phone use and brain cancer. At last, the findings of this eagerly anticipated study have been released, and researchers found that...well...here are some of the headlines reporting the results:
PALMER: "Mobile Phone Study Finds No Solid Link to Brain Tumours"- the Guardian, UK.
GELLERMAN: "Heavy Use of Cell Phones may increase Tumour Risk." Globe and Mail, Canada.
WOMAN: "Mobile Phones are Safe" Die Welt, Germany.
CURWOOD: So if you're confused, you're not alone. Consider these contradictory findings: High cell phone usage was linked to a doubling of the risk of deadly brain cancers called gliomas. But some people who never or very rarely used cell phones seemed to have more tumor risk than moderate users.
Epidemiologist Elizabeth Cardis headed the Radiation Group, which conducted the Interphone study. Elisabeth Cardis (Courtesy of The Center for Research and
CARDIS: The study is very complex and the interpretation is not clear. And we have not demonstrated consistently that there's a risk, but I think it's really important to note that that does not mean that there's no risk. We have a number of elements in the study which suggest that there might actually be a risk, and particularly we have seen an increased risk of glioma, which is one type of malignant brain tumor, in the heaviest users in the study—in particular on the side of the head where the tumor developed and in particular in the temporal lobe which is the part of the brain closest to the ear so closest to where the phone is held, so that's the part of the brain that has most of the exposure from the phone.
CURWOOD: And indeed, I'm looking at something known as Appendix Two, a table in your study that shows for gliomas is what—twice as likely to have one of these brain tumors if somebody was a heavy user of cell phones over a long period of time with a good 95 percent confidence rate for this finding. Why is there such a confusion about this? Why isn't this a valid finding?
CARDIS: Well, we don't know whether the finding is correct. Basically, there are a number of possible biases which are typical with these kinds epidemiological studies, which could have affected the results. And the increased risk could be just something we call recall bias, so we really can't conclude that there is a risk from our findings because of the potential of bias.
CURWOOD: Why not simply look at their cell phone records?
CARDIS: We've tried to do that actually in a smaller scale validation study. We had hoped to be able to do that on many people in the study, but unfortunately at the time we did the Interphone study it was very difficult to go back in operators' records and get long time historical records for the study subjects.
CURWOOD: By the way, the number of minutes per day that somebody used a cell phone that considered a "high" use averaged—what?—less than 30 minutes a day?
CARDIS: Yes, that's correct. I mean, Interphone was basically carried out between 2000 and 2004, depending on the country, and we asked about people's long-term historical use of the phone—we were asking about the use of the late 1980s, early 1990s, at time when mobile phones were used much less than today. And one of the reasons we are concerned about the results to the study, even though we cannot conclude for sure, is where we see the increase is in these people—half an hour a day for 10 years was a high use in the participants of that study, but it's just a normal reason or relatively low use today.
The use of cell phones has grown exponentially. (Photo compujeramey)
CURWOOD: You're using a cell phone right now, as we speak?
CARDIS: I am using a cell phone right now, yes.
CURWOOD: How worried are you?
CARDIS: I don't use a cell phone very much and when I can, I basically try find ways to reduce my exposure, either using a landline or using the speaker of my phone.
CURWOOD: Do you have any children, Dr. Cardis?
CARDIS: Yes, I have two children.
CURWOOD: How old are they, and are they allowed to use cell phones?
CARDIS: They are eight- and 11-years-old and they do not have a cell phone. They use it very, very rarely when they have to, but they don't have a cell phone.
CURWOOD: Now, Dr. Cardis, you're an epidemiologist, you're not a journalist, so it's probably unfair of me to ask you to do my job, but if you had to write the headline for this story, what would it be?
CARDIS: That's a very good question! What is your headline? In my opinion, and I said this is a very complex study, and it is biased in areas, limiting interpretation; so we have different people in study groups interpreting the results differently. In my personal opinion, I think we have a number of elements that suggest a possible increased risk among the heaviest users, and because the heaviest users in our study are considered the low users today, I think that's something of concern.
CURWOOD: Epidemiologist Elizabeth Cardis directed the World Health Organization's Interphone study. Dr. Cardis spoke to us by cell phone from Barcelona.
Television New Zealand
Our state TV station, Television New Zealand's take on the Interphone study. David Black works for National Radiation Laboratory, which sets our radiation standards, and also appears for telecommunications and power companies at resource consent hearings.
Web site www.weepinitiative.org e-mail email@example.com
To sign up for WEEP News: firstname.lastname@example.org (provide name and e-mail address)
W.E.E.P. – The Canadian initiative to stop Wireless Electrical and Electromagnetic Pollution