Saturday, November 6, 2010

New study warns of risks / Important review of the biological effects / Some SmartMeter Customers Say Devices Make Them Sick

W.E.E.P. News

Wireless Electrical and Electromagnetic Pollution News

6 November 2010

New study warns of risks from emissions, suggests towers be kept away from homes

By Tom Spears, The Ottawa Citizen November 5, 2010

OTTAWA — Just as Ontario announces that cellphones don't need danger labels, Ottawa's NRC Research Press publishes research saying we're awash in radiation from cellphone towers and it does have the potential to hurt us.

And it says Wi-Fi and Wi-Max transmissions and smart grids are worrisome too, even though all these sources use relatively low power. Cell towers use a few hundred watts, while commercial radio uses tens of thousands.

But today's study says it's too late to turn back the clock, and all we can hope for is to keep towers far from people whenever possible. There are about 350 cell towers, or transmitters mounted on tall buildings, in Ottawa and Gatineau. Carriers keep the exact number secret.

"Radiofrequency radiation is a form of energetic air pollution and it should be controlled as such," says the study in the NRC Press's journal Environmental Reviews. It's published online today.

It suggests that cell towers should be kept 450 metres from peoples' homes, and made nearly 50 metres tall.

And it says the arrival of wireless technology such as Wi-Max — which carries Internet signals to a wide area — increases people's exposure to radiation, and makes precautions more difficult.

It says symptoms can include:

- Nausea and visual disruptions in people living within 10 metres of a cellphone tower.

- Irritability, depression and memory loss between 10 and 100 metres.

- Headaches, poor sleep and skin problems between 100 and 200 metres.

The location of new towers has repeatedly upset Ottawa residents.

This year, when a tower popped up without warning 15 metres from his lot line, David Oikle complained to City Hall.

He didn't get far. City officials said they have no authority to move the tower, because Industry Canada is in charge. But Industry Canada told Oikle the city can in fact demand some accommodation from cellphone tower builders.

"We should have put it somewhere else," said Oikle. "I'm 48 years old. I've lived in Ottawa all my life, with the technology we're exposed to every day. Who knows what the effects are?

"From a health perspective, it (the tower) is over there. I don't know what it does to me … I'm a finance guy. I don't have any particular knowledge" about health effects.

The new study adds to a wide body of research, some suggesting potential harm from cellphone transmissions, others arguing it's safe.

The Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association says cellular transmissions in Toronto — with the country's biggest concentrations of towers — are less than one-seventh of one per cent of Health Canada's maximum safe level.

Bioengineering professor Henry Lai of the University of Washington and medical writer Blake Levitt went back through 50 years of research for the study published today, and discovered an intriguing fact: Today's radio waves are "remarkably similar" to the steady irradiation of the U.S. Embassy in Moscow prior to 1976 by the Soviets. Effects on Americans stationed there have been studied in the long term.

Four main symptoms emerged from the Moscow personnel: eczema, psoriasis, allergic reactions, and inflammatory reactions. As well, there were reports of neurological problems, including mood changes and depression, difficult pregnancies and births, and tumours (malignant in women but benign in men.)

"Such reports of adverse effects on well-being are occurring worldwide near cell infrastructure and this does not appear to be related to emotional perception of risk," the study says.

Yet "obsolete" government standards protect only against short-term exposure to strong blasts of radiation, not long-term effects from low levels, the researchers conclude.

"In considering public health, we should concentrate on aggregate exposures from multiple sources" of the radiation they say, and not on each cellphone tower in isolation.

As well, health authorities must add in the extra radio waves coming from Wi-Fi and smart grid systems. "Only in that way will low-level electromagnetic energy exposure be understood as the broad environmental factor it is."

While an estimated 5.1 billion people use cellphones today, the study suggests we don't know how much exposure people experience. For instance, it says, one building may filter out 100 times more radiation than another, depending on their materials. And people on the second floor of a building may be exposed more than those on the ground floor.

A proper health study would compare people exposed to these radio waves with people who aren't exposed, the authors note. Just one catch: It's almost impossible to find a place with no cellphone signals.

The NRC Press is a not-for-profit publisher of science books and journals. The study is available online at


November  5, 2010.  Important review of the biological effects for those living near antennas was just published in Environmental Reviews, a Journal of the Canadian National Research Council.

Levitt, BB and H. Lai.  2010. Biological effects from exposure to electromagnetic radiation emitted by cell tower base stations and other antenna arrays.  Environmental Reviews 18:369-395.

This paper written by Blake Levitt, an award winning medical science writer, and Dr. Henry Lai at the University of Washington, one of the first scientist along with his colleague Dr. Singh to document DNA damage attributed to cell phone radiation, follows on the heals of a Private Member's Bill introduced to the Ontario Legislative Assemble by NDP Health Critic, France Gelinas, asking that warning labels be posted on cell phones.

Cell phones communicate with cell phone antennas and both devices emit radiation. One you hold to your head or ideally away from your head.  The other may be near your home or on top of your or a neighbouring apartment building sending out microwave radiation each time someone nearby  uses a cell phone.

The scientific consensus is that the more you are exposed to this radiation, the greater the potential for damaging effects even at levels well below existing federal guidelines.  Indeed, many scientists believe that there is no "safe" level for microwave radiation.

To read more visit:


Please note the disclaimer by NRC Press. There is a misunderstanding in the early coverage today in The Ottawa Citizen (see link below) that our paper is a report issued by Canada's National Research Council. Rather, it is an individual paper, among the many they publish annually.

Blake Levitt

The publisher of Environmental Reviews is Canadian Science Publishing, a not-for-profit company (operating under the brand NRC Research Press There has been some confusion as the publisher is not National Research Council of Canada.

About the Publisher
Canadian Science Publishing, a not-for-profit company (operating under the brand NRC Research Press ). It is the foremost scientific publisher in Canada and one of the most advanced electronic publishing services in the world. Since 1929, it has been publishing peer-reviewed international science on a not-for-profit basis with support from members of the Canadian scientific community. With over 50 highly skilled experts and an editorial staff comprising some of the world's leading researchers, NRC Research Press (Canadian Science Publishing) communicates scientific discoveries to over 100 countries, and publishes 15 journals, with more than 2000 manuscripts each year, in all scientific disciplines. All journals are available online full-text and are accessible before print publication.

The authors of the study are not affiliated with or employed by the National Research Council of Canada. The views of the authors in no way reflect the opinions of the National Research Council of Canada. Requests for commentary about the contents of the study should be directed to the authors.

The NRC Research Press is a operating under the new name of Canadian Science Publishing not-for-profit company. Canadian Science Publishing publishes peer-reviewed international research which is intended to reflect the views of the authors.

Ottawa Citizen story at:


Some SmartMeter Customers Say Devices Make Them Sick

Thousands Of Complaints Roll Into Utilities Commission

SEBASTOPOL, Calif. -- Some California coastal communities have placed moratoriums on Pacific Gas and Electric's SmartMeters after customers raised concerns about potentially harmful health effects.

Homeowners addressed the California Public Utilities Commission in September, asking the commissioners to place an emergency moratorium on PG&E's wireless gas and electric Smart Meters.

The CPUC told KCRA 3 that it has received more than 2,000 health-related complaints but said the health issues are not its jurisdiction and referred customers to the Federal Communications Commission and state health officials.

A Sebastopol-based group, the EMF Safety Network, studies the health impacts of electromagnetic fields and radio frequency radiation.

The group said it is collecting data that proves PG&E Smart Meters are hazardous to human health.

A number of the people who said they are getting sick said they suffer from a condition called electrical sensitivity or electromagnetic hypersensitivity, or EHS.

The World Health Organization said EHS is not a medical diagnosis.

However, people who claim to suffer from electrical sensitivity said their symptoms are very real.

"The trouble is, a lot of times, people don't connect the dots between their health symptoms and electrical exposure," Sandy Mauer with the EMF Safety Network said.

The WHO said there is no convincing scientific evidence that weak RF signals from wireless networks cause health problems.

SmartMeters emit about one watt, less than cell phones, which some research finds riskier because they are held to the head.

PG&E said its meters comply with federal safety standards.

"Radio frequency is all around us," Paul Moreno from PG&E said.

"SmartMeters are a very small measure of that. They are well within what you find with ordinary household appliances and far within FCC guidelines."

Moreno said before PG&E rolled out its SmartMeters, it commissioned independent experts to examine how SmartMeters' RF levels stack up against other common household devices.

"The studies by the World Health Organization and other health experts have found no health effects from low-level RF such as you will find with a Smart Meter device," Moreno said.

San Rafael Assemblyman Jared Huffman has received complaints from a number of his constituents.

He has asked the California Council on Science and Technology to examine SmartMeters and whether current FCC standards are sufficient to protect public health.

"I think that's going to be hugely helpful to take this debate to one based on sort of fear and a dismissive response to that fear, and try to inject some independent credible science," Huffman said.

The council could release its report by the end of 2010.

"I think we have the right to a healthy life," PG&E customer Tim Hudson said. "And we have the right to choose. And I think in both these cases, that's being taken away from us."

Assemblyman Huffman addressed that concern saying no matter what conclusions the Council on Science and Technology returns, he is considering looking at some kind of opt-out option for customers who do not want smart meter technology on their homes.

PG&E said it takes customer concerns very seriously. It has met with a number of communities who have raised health-related concerns, in an effort to raise awareness and educate customers.

PG&E continues to deploy some 10 million meters in its territory statewide, complying with the CPUC's SmartMeters proposal to install the wireless meters on all customers' residences.

In the meantime, there is no resolution for customers who said SmartMeters are ticking time bombs.

"My choice now, is I may have to leave my home," Louise Stanphill said. "I may have to move from my house, but where do I go?"

Sandi Maurer

EMF Safety Network

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