Wireless Electrical and Electromagnetic Pollution News
19 June 2010
Woman keeps daughter home over Wi-Fi fears
Posted By Don Crosby
Sun Times correspondent
A Meaford mother has kept her seven-year-old daughter home because of concerns about wireless Internet routers at her school.
Angela Klein urged Bluewater District School Board trustees to remove the technology until it's proven safe.
She said the St. Vincent Euphrasia Elementary School parent council and other parents are very concerned about long-term health and safety risks from the low-level radiation from the wireless technology, which serves laptop computers in schools.
"There has never been a study done on children's long-term exposure to low-level microwave radiation (Wi-Fi) and the biological effects, only the short-term thermal effects," Klein said. "We urge you to err on the side of caution, use the existing wires to access the Internet and remove all Wi-Fi until there has been a proper long-term study done on children."
Klein said her daughter has not displayed symptoms she says are connected with the wireless technology — headache, dizziness, nausea and vertigo, visual and auditory distortion, racing heart and memory loss, skin rash, attention deficit, insomnia and night sweats.
She she took her daughter out of school as a precaution.
In her presentation to trustees Klein showed a brief video by Dr. Magdas Havas, a lecturer in environmental and resource studies at Trent University in Peterborough who claims it's irresponsible to introduce Wi-Fi microwave radiation into a school environment.
"With a microwave oven, you close the door and the microwaves are contained within the oven, whereas with our schools, the microwaves are released into the environment. The school becomes the microwave," Havas said.
Director of education Mary Anne Alton said she's received information from three concerned from three parents and passed them on to Ron Motz, the board's health and safety officer.
Motz responded that the technology used in Bluewater schools meets Canada's safety code.
"Based on present published guidelines our wireless systems are not endangering the health of our students," Motz wrote to each of the three concerned parents.
"Because the believed detrimental health effects attributed to wireless computer systems are still unproven and because of the existing guidelines, I cannot recommend to the Bluewater District School Board that the wireless systems be disconnected in our schools," Motz wrote in his letter to the parents.
Alton said now that the concern has been raised publicly by other parents it will be up to the trustees if they want to take this any further.
Fear of mobile tower radiation grips Delhi area
Residents in northwest Delhi's Shalimar Bagh are demanding the demolition of a mobile phone tower in the residential area, alleging that electromagnetic radiation from it poses a threat to their lives.
Shubash Kapoor, a resident of BC Block in Shalimar Bagh (East), told IANS that an Idea Cellular tower has been erected on the terrace of the third floor apartment where he lives as a tenant, with the permission of the landlord.
As telecom giants pay huge rents, house owners allow them to set up mobile phone towers. 'Why can't they look at other alternatives for revenue? Why are they playing with the lives of residents?' Kapoor asked.
Sudha Sharma, an angry resident, said: 'Why don't they (mobile network companies) understand residents' problems? We have to suffer because of mobile towers.'
'For over two years since the erection of the mobile tower, we have been suffering health problems like headache, fatigue and vomiting because of radiation. My six-year-old son is the worst-hit,' she claimed.
'My doctor has confirmed these health issues are linked to radiation from the mobile tower,' she added.
Sharma said their neighbour was suffering from cancer in the spinal cord, while another resident had complained of heart ailments.
According to the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD), Delhi has over 5,000 mobile phone towers, of which 2,500 are illegally erected. Shockingly, most of these are in residential areas.
The MCD has threatened to seal illegal mobile phone towers because of possible health hazards. The Delhi High Court, which had earlier ordered the formation of a panel to study the health risks caused by mobile phone towers, put a stay on it and issued notice to the cellular operators association to file their responses by July 8.
'Despite the civic body's norms, many mobile towers are installed near residential colonies, schools, hospitals and dispensaries - all areas where they are not allowed,' a civic body official told IANS.
Experts say mobile phone towers installed on top of buildings are a definite threat to human health.
'Exposure to electromagnetic waves generate heat in the body and high levels of radiation can even affect the enzyme system, cause mutation of DNA, protein structure and cell membranes,' said Neha Kumar, an expert in industrial biotechnology, who has done research work on electromagnetic radiation.
'People who stay within the beam of the towers are the worst-hit. The continuous exposure to electromagnetic radiation could have a pernicious effect on our health,' she said.
'The safest radiation exposure limit for a human being is 100 micro watts per square metre. But in many residential areas, the exposure limit is more than 1,000 micro watts per square metres,' she added.
G.K. Jadhav, senior consultant in the oncology department of Apollo Hospital, said the worst-affected by mobile tower radiations are heart patients, particularly those who have pacemakers.
'We also attend to many brain tumour patients who are constantly exposed to electromagnetic radiation,' Jadhav added.
However, chief co-operative affairs officer of Idea Cellular Rajat Mukarji denied the allegations, saying the towers installed by the company across the country are not harmful.
'The radiation levels are checked by a telecom engineering centre and they are at nominal levels; yet if the residents demand that the tower be removed, they should approach the company directly,' he added.
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), along with other central agencies, has proposed that the radiation exposure be limited to be 9.2 watts per square metre in India, though experts say this needs to be widely debated and analysed before implementation.
In some countries, the permissible limit in a radius between 50 and 300 metres varies from 0.001 to 0.24 watts per square metre.
'The level suggested in India is many times higher than that in the US, Switzerland, Poland and Russia,' Kumar said.
S. Raghunath, senior scientist in the Central Electronics Engineering Research Institute (CEERI) at Pilani, however, said: 'As a scientist, I cannot believe that mobile towers emit such radiation. Radiation from mobile phones used for long duration is higher than those from mobile towers.'
(Prathiba Raju can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
American Cancer Society
This journalist is calling the ACS "The Goldman Sachs" of healthcare. I had a look at the ACS Great West division annual report for 2008. AT & T is listed as a $10,000 to $99,999 donor. I am wondering what the total amount is for all wireless companies (carriers and manufacturers) is for all divisions?
Cancer society panders to corporate donors
by Brian Moench
Salt Lake Tribune
Updated:05/14/2010 06:08:57 PM MDT
When I ask audiences to raise their hand if someone they love has had cancer, almost every hand goes up. That's because 50 percent of men and 33 percent of women will get cancer in their lifetimes. One hundred years ago your chance of dying of cancer was 1 in 33. It is now 1 in 4.
That difference is not explained just by a longer life expectancy today giving us more years to develop cancer. Childhood cancer rates have risen 40 to 60 percent in the past 25 years.
Last week the President's Panel on Cancer announced a remarkable report echoing a message the Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment have been delivering for several years: Environmental degradation is responsible for a much larger portion of our cancer burden than previously thought.
Gathering the latest research from hundreds of new medical studies, the panel stated "the true burden of environmentally induced cancer has been grossly underestimated." They called for a paradigm shift in emphasis from treatment to prevention, and changing the search for causes from genes to environmental impacts on gene function -- a branch of science called epigenetics.
The World Health Organization has estimated that 80 percent of cancer and 30 percent of the world's overall disease burden is environmentally caused.
Sources of contaminants include pesticide residues in food, chemicals leaching from packaging, plastics, personal care products, radiation, and air and water pollution. The air inside the average home harbors more than 400 different chemicals, some originating from air pollution in the community and others from household products. Common fruits and vegetables often contain residues of 60 or more different pesticides.
In their cover letter to President Obama, the panelists wrote, "American people -- even before they are born -- are bombarded continually with myriad combinations of these dangerous exposures."
Virtually from the moment of conception, human embryos in their mothers' wombs are contaminated by hundreds of environmental toxins capable of wreaking havoc even at infinitesimally low levels of exposure, leading to cancer, birth defects, diminished intellectual capacity, behavior disturbances and numerous chronic diseases later in life. Some of these environmentally caused epigenetic changes can be passed on to subsequent generations thus jeopardizing their health as well.
On many painful realities -- the climate crisis and a diminishing global oil supply come to mind -- scientists are already struggling to get the public and politicians to discard their denial pacifiers. An environment choked with carcinogens will be another reality for which denial will prove much more comforting. Ironically, the American Cancer Society (ACS) nurtures that denial.
Immediately after the report, the ACS issued essentially a rebuttal, criticizing it as speculative, and diverting attention from "more significant" factors like poor lifestyle choices -- smoking, overeating and lack of exercise. To suggest that Americans can only contemplate one cause of cancer is bewildering. But this "blame the victim" philosophy has been promoted by the ACS for more than 40 years, with a trivialization of environmental risks and a determined dismissal of new research.
Dr. Samuel Epstein, author of The Politics of Cancer and former head of a congressional committee on cancer, is only one of many critics who argue the ACS "priorities remain fixated on after the fact damage control -- screening, diagnosis, and treatment" -- to the virtual exclusion of cause and prevention.
The ACS has long-standing conflicts of interest with a wide range of industries that manufacture chemotherapy drugs, agrichemicals and radiation therapy equipment. In fact, ACS spokesman Dr. Michael Thun admits the society's corporate connections.
"The American Cancer Society views relationships with corporations as a source of revenue for cancer prevention," said Dr. Thun. "That can be construed as an inherent conflict of interest, or it can be construed as a pragmatic way to get funding to support cancer control." Or it can be construed as what it is: undermining cancer prevention for financial gain -- like the Goldman Sachs of health care.
It's hard to think of an issue that reaches deeper into our personal lives than cancer.
Six members of my family have had cancer, including two of my children. They illustrate the need to emphasize prevention over treatment. If the ACS can't muster the integrity to help prevent environmentally induced cancer it should at least stop obstructing the efforts of others who try.
Brian Moench is a founder of Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment.
Trouble sleeping? Maybe it's your iPad
By John D. Sutter, CNN
- Some researchers say the iPad and laptops may alter sleep cycles
- Light from the devices' screens may affect internal clocks when used at night
- No formal research has been done on the subject
- But some doctors still recommend leaving gadgets out of the bedroom
(CNN) -- J.D. Moyer decided recently to conduct a little experiment with artificial light and his sleep cycle.
The sleep-deprived Oakland, California, resident had read that strong light -- whether it's beaming down from the sun or up from the screens of personal electronics -- can reset a person's internal sleep clock.
So, for one month, whenever the sun set, he turned off all the gadgets and lights in his house -- from the bulb hidden in his refrigerator to his laptop computer.
It worked. Instead of falling asleep at midnight, Moyer's head was hitting the pillow as early as 9 p.m. He felt so well-rested during the test, he said, that friends remarked on his unexpected morning perkiness.
"I had the experience, a number of times, just feeling kind of unreasonably happy for no reason. And it was the sleep," he said. "Sure, you can get by with six or seven hours, but sleeping eight or nine hours -- it's a different state of mind."
Moyer may be onto something.
More than ever, consumer electronics -- particularly laptops, smartphones and Apple's new iPad -- are shining bright light into our eyes until just moments before we doze off.
Now there's growing concern that these glowing gadgets may actually fool our brains into thinking it's daytime. Exposure can disturb sleep patterns and exacerbate insomnia, some sleep researchers said in interviews.
"Potentially, yes, if you're using [the iPad or a laptop] close to bedtime ... that light can be sufficiently stimulating to the brain to make it more awake and delay your ability to sleep," said Phyllis Zee, a neuroscience professor at Northwestern University and director of the school's Center for Sleep & Circadian Biology.
"And I think more importantly, it could also be sufficient to affect your circadian rhythm. This is the clock in your brain that determines when you sleep and when you wake up."
Such concerns are not entirely new: One sleep researcher said Thomas Edison created these problems when he invented the light bulb. But they've been revived by the popularity of Apple's new slate computer, the iPad, which many consumers say is good for reading at night in bed, when the brain thinks the environment should be dark.
Unlike paper books or e-book readers like the Amazon Kindle, which does not emit its own light, the iPad's screen shines light directly into the reader's eyes from a relatively close distance.
That makes the iPad and laptops more likely to disrupt sleep patterns than, say, a television sitting across the bedroom or a lamp that illuminates a paper book, both of which shoot far less light straight into the eye, researchers said.
"I wish people would just take a boring book -- an old-fashioned book -- and [read] by a lamp. Make sure that it's not too bright -- just so you can read," said Alon Avidan, associate director of the Sleep Disorders Center at UCLA. "And if they do that, I think they'll feel a lot better and they'll be able to relax."
These concerns stem from the fact that people are biologically wired to be awake when the sun is out.
When receptors in our eyes are hit with bright light for an extended period of time, they send a message to the brain saying it's time to be awake. The brain, in turn, stops secreting a hormone called melatonin, which makes people sleepy and helps regulate the internal sleep clock.
Normally, our brains start giving us that hormonal sleep aid at about 9 or 10 p.m. But if bright lights are shining in our eyes, that may not happen as planned. That's what worries some sleep researchers.
To make matters worse, our eyes are particularly sensitive to blue light, which is common during the day, but is less so in the evening. The fact that computer screens and phones tend to put out a lot of blue light could intensify the screen's awakening effects, even if the light isn't all that bright.
There's no exact formula for determining how much light is needed to reset a person's internal clock. Several factors are at play, including how bright the light is, what hues are present, how large the light source is, how far it is from the person's eyes and what that person tends to do during the day.
A farmer who is exposed to sunlight all day long would likely be less sensitive to artificial light at night than a person who works in a dimmer office environment, said Mariana Figueiro, an assistant professor and director of the Lighting Research Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York.
While there has been research to show that light -- even artificial light -- can affect human melatonin production, no research has been done specifically on whether the iPad and laptops disrupt sleep cycles.
Some researchers are skeptical of the link.
"I don't think it's an area of concern. I think it's an area of personal preference," said Mary Lou Jackson, director of vision rehabilitation at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, which is affiliated with Harvard Medical School.
People shouldn't be concerned about reading on backlit electronic devices at night unless they're experiencing insomnia, in which case they should dim the screen, Jackson said.
Several iPad owners contacted by CNN said they enjoy reading on the device before bed and haven't noticed sleep problems.
Apple did not respond to a request for comment on this story.
George Brainard, director of the Light Research Program at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, said it's more important for people to turn off their computers and gadgets at night -- so they have a dark sleeping environment -- than to worry about reading in bright conditions before bed.
Electronics with glowing screens may create problems for people who are susceptible to insomnia, he said, but that research hasn't shown the link yet.
"Can we jump from [the available research] to an iPad? Not quite yet," he said. "But you can begin to see the potential is there for low levels of light to potentially have a biological effect."
Avidian, from UCLA, said several factors play into how well a person sleeps. It's possible iPads and laptops, when used late at night, may delay sleep because they require more focus and provide more potential distractions than books, he said.
Still, the possible relationship between reading at night on backlit screens and insomnia has led some sleep doctors to prescribe zany solutions for patients.
Figueiro, the professor at RPI, prescribes sunglasses with orange lenses.
"Wearing these orange glasses definitely will take away any of the [blue] light that the circadian system is sensitive to," she said. "Your circadian system would basically be blind."
Zee, the Northwestern doctor, said she has recommended the same. She also says people who have trouble sleeping should keep iPads and laptops out of the bedroom. It's best to stop using them one or two hours before going to bed, she said.
Changing your computer or iPad's screen settings to make the display dimmer or take blue hues out of the display at night may also help, researchers said.
A free, downloadable program called F.lux will automatically adjust the hues on your computer screen to eliminate blues when the sun starts setting -- and then replace them when it rises again.
The program, which was developed by a computer programmer and an artist, is not scientific. Sleep researchers said they are unsure of its actual impact.
Moyer, the Oakland resident who turned off all of his gadgets and lights at sundown for a month in 2009, said he hasn't kept up the rigid routine.
But he has applied some lessons from his lights-off-at-night experiment.
For one, he uses the computer less at night. And when he needs to use it, he employs F.lux to make the screen more red and less blue.
He says he's happier and more rested for it.
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