Wireless Electrical and Electromagnetic Pollution News
Advocates sound alarm on cell phone radiation
Some are certain that cell phone radiation triggers cancerous brain tumors.
Posted at 10:35 PM on Sunday, Mar. 07, 2010
By Barbara Anderson / The Fresno Bee
Mindy Brown is on a crusade to warn people about radiation from cell phones.
It started after her husband, Fresno State football coach Dan Brown, developed brain cancer. Before slipping into a coma a year ago, he said "make sure everybody knows," she said. "I promised I would."
Dan was 50 when he died March 13, 2009. Since his death, Brown has flown across the country to keep her word to Dan, the high school sweetheart she married, the father of their six children.
On Tuesday in Maine, she testified for legislation that would require a health warning on cell phones, similar to the "black box" label on cigarette packs. If passed, it would be the first in the country.
And in February, Brown, 51, spoke before an environmental commission in San Francisco in favor of an ordinance that would require radiation levels emitted by cell phones to be printed on packaging. A similar state law has been proposed.
Brown's activism is raising awareness about a controversial issue that has been percolating for years but is now heating up as lawmakers debate whether it's time to act.
Brown has no doubt that cell-phone radiation triggers cancerous brain tumors. "I'm so 100% sure ... I'd bet my life on it," she said.
But the scientific community is divided over health effects of the low levels of electromagnetic radiation emitted by the phones. The cell-phone industry maintains the phones are safe. In the end, researchers say, the safety debate likely will go on for years, while more and more people use the phones.
The science behind the phone
For consumers, it all can be confusing.
The phones are ubiquitous today. About 4.6 billion people -- more than half the world's population -- have cell phones, according to the International Telecommunications Union. More than 276 million people in the United States are wireless subscribers, according to CTIA-The Wireless Association, an industry group.
But the phones are relatively new devices, having been in use in the United States only about the past two decades -- not enough time for people to have long-term experience with them.
Cell phones are actually two-way radios. The phones change a voice into radio waves or radio-frequency energy, according to the federal Food and Drug Administration Web site. Other everyday products -- televisions, pagers, radios and cordless phones -- do the same thing.
Radio frequencies are part of the electromagnetic spectrum, a range of radiation energy that includes everything from light to X-rays.
The electromagnetic radiation from cell phones is in the microwave range, though far less powerful than emissions from a microwave oven.
And that kind of radiation from cell phones doesn't cause damage to atoms and molecules, the FDA says. In that respect, it's similar to visible and infrared light.
Some scientists, however, say holding cell phones against the head -- and often for long periods -- allows enough radiation from the phones to have an effect on cells. One theory: The radiation is strong enough to cause the body to produce destructive molecules known as "free radicals" that can damage DNA, the hereditary material in humans.
Others say the phones simply don't give off enough radiation to cause DNA damage.
There is little indication the controversy will end soon.
"Cell phones have become the high-tension lines of our time," said Dr. Paul Fisher, a Bay Area neurologist, referring to concerns that power lines cause cancer. And it's likely the cell-phone debate will have as long a life, he said. Fears about high-power lines persist after 40 years of studies that have yet to prove a direct link, he said.
Fisher said it's premature to say that cell phones are related to brain tumors. A professor of neurology and pediatrics at Stanford and Children's Hospital, he is working on summarizing research that has been done on cell phones and brain tumors for a paper he hopes will be published this year.
Most studies don't back up the cancer fears, Fisher said, citing a recent Scandinavian study that looked at brain-tumor rates from the last 30 years and found no significant change in the rates. After three decades, if there were a relationship between cell phones and brain tumors, you would expect to see it, he said.
CTIA declined to be interviewed, but John Walls, vice president of public affairs, issued a written statement that said in part: "The peer-reviewed scientific evidence has overwhelmingly indicated that wireless devices, within the limits established by the FCC, do not pose a public-health risk or cause any adverse health effects."
Debate over risks
But others say the risks from using cell phones are real.
People who use cell phones for 10 years or more have a higher rate of cancer of the brain," said Martin Blank, associate professor of physiology and cellular biophysics at Columbia University. And he said the research shows the increase is five times the rate for people who start using a cell phone as teenagers.
Blank said the reason that studies into possible links between cell phones and brain cancer are so contradictory: "Those who find effects are more likely to be independently funded. Those that are funded by industry are more likely to find no effects."
The National Cancer Institute and the American Cancer Society say most studies have not shown a possible relationship between brain tumors and cell-phone use -- but both agencies recommend more research.
One worry is the time people spend on cell phones. The phones' convenience makes them hard for users to hang up.
In the first half of 2008, cell-phone users in the United States spent on average 13 hours a month talking on their phones, according to CTIA. But surfing the Internet topped it -- computer users spent more than 26 hours per month on the Internet in May 2008, according to The Nielsen Company.
"It's the excessive [cell phone] use that's resulting in these elevations in brain tumors," said Dr. David Carpenter, an expert in electromagnetic fields who has been director of the Institute for Health and the Environment at the University of Albany since 1998.
For Brown, the connection seems clear between her husband's death and his cell-phone use.
Brown hasn't added up the minutes Dan spent on a cell phone, but in his 12 years on the Bulldogs' coaching team -- the last seven as defensive coordinator -- he constantly had a phone to his ear, she said. He talked to recruiters, coaches, football boosters, she said.
"My husband would be here still, I swear to you, if he hadn't used a cell phone," Brown said.
Fisher of Stanford said it's understandable to search for a cause for brain cancer -- but no one knows what causes it. There are a lot of reasons why people should limit their cell-phone use, he said, but to prevent brain cancer is not among them.
But Brown doesn't believe it's a coincidence that the people she met while Dan was being treated bore tell-tale scars from brain surgery on the side of their heads where they held their cell phones, she said. "That was enough evidence for me."
She's not the only one who believes there is a connection.
Andy Solomon, 41, of Fresno, is convinced the hours he spent talking on a cell phone caused a brain tumor to turn cancerous. He was diagnosed in October 2007. A tumor was next to his left ear -- the side of his head where he held his cell phone, he said.
A commercial real-estate agent, Solomon has owned a cell phone since 1991. He used to talk almost nonstop while in his car. "I needed to know every shopping center in every town. I would have the phone to my ear driving," he said.
He has had two brain surgeries, radiation, chemotherapy and been a participant in two clinical trials to remove the tumor. Late last month, he learned a brain scan showed a new brain tumor had formed.
Solomon and his wife, Monique, have two daughters, 11 and 7. Their main concern is for the millions of children who now carry cell phones and for the hours they spend on the phones.
Use among children
The increasing use of cell phones by children adds to the sense of urgency for those who believe they cause cancer.
Five years ago, fewer than half of children between ages 8 and 18 had cell phones; now two-thirds of them have the phones, according to a report by the nonprofit The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.
Children's skulls are thinner, making them more susceptible to radiation, said Renee Sharp, director of the California office of the Environmental Working Group, a Washington, D.C-based environmental advocacy organization.
"Children's brains actually absorb twice as much radiation as adults' brains," Sharp said.
Sharp said the standard that the government uses to rate radiation levels doesn't consider children. It's outdated and needs to be lowered, she said. The lower the rate, the lower the exposure to electromagnetic energy.
The standard -- called the specific absorption rate, or SAR -- measures how much radio-frequency energy is absorbed by the body. In the United States, the rate was set in 1996 by the Federal Communications Commission at 1.6 watts per kilogram, which is averaged over 1 gram of body tissue.
The FCC considers cell phones at 1.6 watts per kilogram or lower to be safe for use. In comparison, a Bluetooth ear piece has a level of about 0.001, or less than one-thousandth of the limit for a cell phone, according to the American Cancer Society.
Bruce Romano, associate chief in the FCC office of engineering and technology, said the agency continues to monitor radiation studies, but currently there is no formal effort to change the standards.
The Environmental Working Group is sponsoring California legislation by state Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, to require cell phones sold in the state to plainly display radiation levels, she said. San Francisco is considering a similar ordinance.
Brown is a proponent of making radiation levels readily apparent on cell phone packaging.
She believes a phone Dan used for years had a radiation level that would have been off the chart. When he used the phone, his ear turned red after only a few minutes from the heat the phone generated, she said.
At the time, Brown said, she and Dan didn't know cell phones emitted radiation, and she half-joked to him that the "phone is going to fry your brain."
For a while after Dan's death, she was in a state of disbelief and anger, she said. She would walk up to strangers talking on cell phones to tell them about radiation risks. The reaction often wasn't friendly, she said.
After testifying in Maine, Brown said: "I feel like a burden has been lifted off my shoulder. I passed on the baton to a bigger force that can make a bigger difference than just me trying to talk to people."
But she won't stop until the cell-phone industry puts warnings on their products, she said.
She is on a mission, propelled by a promise.
The reporter can be reached at email@example.com or (559) 441-6310.
250,000 Swedes allergic to mobile phone radiation
By Andrew Nusca | Mar 8, 2010
Called electro-hypersensitivity, the condition means the afflicted have severe physical reactions — from dizziness, nausea and headaches to breathing problems, heart palpitations and flat-out fainting — to the electromagnetic radiation produced by consumer electronics such as computers, televisions and cell phones.
According to a stunning new article in Popular Science, Sweden is the only country in the world to recognize EHS as a functional impairment. The article explains the plight of Per Segerbäck, one of the three percent of Swedes with the condition.
Once, while on a sailboat with friends, he recalls, he was on the front deck when, unknown to him, someone made a call belowdecks. Headache, nausea, unconsciousness. When Segerbäck is within range of an active cellphone (safe distances vary because different makes and models produce different radiation levels), he experiences the feeling that there is "not enough room in my skull for my brain."
In Sweden, EHS sufferers are entitled to similar rights and services as the blind and deaf, and can have metal shielding installed in their homes free of charge from the local government.
The mobile phone industry says scientific evidence overwhelmingly indicates that wireless devices are safe. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection, the American Cancer Society and the World Health Organization agree — and flat brain-cancer rates have thus far confirmed that assessment.
Segerbäck for 20 years was a telecommunications engineer at Ellemtel, a division of Ericsson. "He was, as a result, up to his eyeballs in a non-ionizing radiation bath, from computers, fluorescent lights and the telecom antenna located right outside his window," Popular Science writes.
His colleagues complained of similar symptoms. The company responded by offering them protective suits, modifying their living spaces and even vehicles to accommodate for their sensitivity. Ericsson produced a report in 1993 about the condition that underlined the necessity to combat it.
Still, Segerbäck was let go in 1999 for an inability to perform his work duties. Now he lives on a cottage in a nature reserve 75 miles northeast of Stockholm — far away from gadget-produced radiation.
Do cell phones cause brain cancer? So far, no one's been able to conclusively prove it. But the body's cells are a source of electrical activity, and the emergence of the condition indicates that we might not fully understand what we've created.
Last week the technology world stood on notice as a fiercely independent state legislator, Democrat Andrea Boland, bucked the Maine political establishment and proposed to place visible warning labels directly on cell phones. "Cell phones emit electromagnetic radiation, exposure to which may increase the risk of brain cancer. Users, especially pregnant women and children, should reduce their exposure."
In the nineteenth century, the outcome of September's state-wide elections in Maine regularly predicted November's national results, giving rise to the statement, "As goes Maine, so goes the nation." Whether this remarkable modern effort in Maine presages a national turn of events remains to be determined, but in fact, it is consistent with similar efforts around the world, including a recent resolution of the European Parliament and national advisories issued in Finland, France, Israel, England, Russia, and China.
Across the country in San Francisco, Mayor Gavin Newsome, who first became interested in cell phone radiation when his wife was expecting their first child, is proposing a much more modest requirement -- that retailers post information on the amount of radiation cell phones emit -- called the Specific Absorption Ratio(SAR). In fact, buying a lower SAR phone and using it (as many do) for hours a day held next to the head, will not protect the user from exposure, and may well increase the risk of brain tumors, neurological disorders, memory loss. Of course, many legislatures are acting to eliminate the most immediate risk of cell phone use -- car crashes.
The Cellular Telecommunications and Industry Association (CTIA) opposes providing warning labels that can easily be seen on cell phones. In fact, Boland's proposal makes it more likely that the harried public will actually see what the manufacturers of phones have quietly begun to tell us. New phones today come with warnings that few ever see, advising that the phone be kept some distance from the body -- the Motorola V 195 has a restriction of one inch, the Blackberry 8300 0.98 inches, the Nokia 1100 one-fourth of an inch, and the iPhone five eighths of an inch. In addition, several of these phones include statements that "phones SHOULD NOT be used or carried on the body."
A warning found on a pamphlet for the HTC Eris Droid cell phone from Verizon, recommends " that no part of the human body be allowed to come too close to the antenna during operation of the equipment," found on page 11 of the phone's "Product Safety and Warranty Information" booklet. A customer query about this was referred to an online appendix which explained on page 219: "To comply with RF exposure requirements, a minimum separation distance of 1.5 cm must be maintained between the user's body and the handset, including the antenna."
When the urbane Dane Snowden, Vice President for External and State Affairs of the CTIA, was asked at the Maine committee hearing by Representative Peter Stuckey to explain why cell phone manuals included such warnings today, he replied he would have to get back to the committee. Snowden certainly has experience with consumer matters, having previously served as Chief of the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau of the Federal Communications Commission.
In fact, standards for cell phones were set in 1997, at a time when few people owned phones, and were based on a six foot tall man weighing two hundred pounds with an eleven pound head, who talked for six minutes. The warnings found deep inside the packaging of all modern phones today use this same big guy model. Today three out of every four twelve year olds have a phone, as do half of all ten year olds.
For the past decade, there has been no independent research underway on cell phones in the U.S. and there is no ongoing health surveillance, a subject about which I and others testified at the U.S. Senate Hearings in September held by Senators Harkin and Specter. In countries where phones have been used more heavily and for longer periods of time, independent scientists have found four-fold increased risks of brain tumors in those who began to use phones regularly as teen-agers. Others have found doubled risks in adults who are long term users.
The tough-minded and forward-looking Boland argues that her bill does nothing other than mandate that the public be able to read what cell phone companies are softly saying in fine print within their manuals. "Industry is doing the least they can. They are printing the tiniest notices buried deep within manuals in packaging that nobody keeps. All this does is bring the phone to a point where it just barely passes the standard emission allowed for large men and cannot protect children, pregnant women, and the rest of us."
Representative Boland takes her job as citizen legislator seriously. She and other members of the Maine Senate and House are appalled by the disingenuous of the industry. CTIA has countered her proposed bill, by bringing in the top gun lobbyists of the state to crush the effort. Their health experts invoke decades old research on outmoded cell phones as providing assurance that new phones are safe. The Maine state legislature may well catch up with the state of science around the world today. They all just may be surprised.
Follow Devra Davis, Ph.D. on Twitter: www.twitter.com/Devra Davis
More On EMR/ELF Radiation
Posted by Matt Brunk, Telecomworx | Mar 8, 2010
My weekend was scheduled with visits and engagements but not about Telecom, VoIP or troubleshooting. Instead, the focus was on energy, energy efficiency and how to avoid or deter--that is redirect the utility company from building a huge substation that folks organized as C.A.K.E.S. in my state (Maryland) are rejecting. In my travels I was given the 59-page testimony presented by Professor Martin Blank of Columbia University discussing the effects of EMR/ELF Radiation primarily from power lines but it also included findings about ELF (extremely low frequency) and low level electromagnetic radiation (EMR) associated with cellphones.
Below are Professor Blank's key comments related to our industry followed by my notes:
Prof.: They (ICNIRP) may no longer be able to ignore the data showing that many fundamental biological processes are activated by low level EMF (electromagnetic field).
My note: there's mounting evidence that exposing ourselves to low levels of electromagnetic radiation isn't good for us. It's not conclusive evidence but several years ago, the cell industry shook off the allegations. Nearly 30 years ago, similar concerns were voiced about RF (radio frequency) and EMR (electromagnetic radiation) and those concerns were laughed off. Today, folks aren't laughing and the issues aren't being readily dismissed.
Prof.: The SAR, or specific absorption rate, is a measure of energy input that is used to estimate exposure at higher EMF frequencies. However, it is obviously unrelated to biological thresholds and cannot serve as a measure of biological safety. The SAR should be replaced by a measure of biological function for purposes of risk assessment.
My note: ...the scientific research shows that "standards" as we know them technically, are great for machines and wares but may be not so good or even good enough for man. Advancing biologically based exposure standards that serve the best interests to protect public health are likely to be those new "standards" to unfold sometime in the near future that won't be written solely by technology committees.
Prof.: There are currently many studies of tumors in the head (gliomas, acoustic neuroma, parotid gland tumors) correlated with the use of cellphones. These are generally discussed in terms of the radio frequency EMF that carries the cellphone signals, although there are low frequency components (12Hz, 217Hz) associated with the transmission that could be involved in interactions with DNA.
My note: the GSM mobile system is modulated at 217 HZ
Prof.: There is evidence that the radiofrequency RF 'noise' that accompanies a 60Hz signal (and that may become a feature of transmission lines with the addition of broadband) may cause such harmful effects as cancer and diabetes (Milham, Morgan, Am. J. Ind. Med. 51:579-586, 2008). A desirable optimal design would aim for as 'clean' a 60Hz sine wave as possible.
My note: BoPL (Broadband over power line) is the reference and the other is 60 cycle or Hz noted from overhead fluorescent lights found almost everywhere.
While there is still much research involving EMR/ELF, there will likely be repercussions following in the future of cellphones, cell towers and the power grid. The concerns of the past won't go away and the rapidity of technology deployment won't likely subside either.
Micro-ondes, santé et antennes cellulaires au Canada
Présenté par le Collectif S.E.M.O. www.dangersemo.com
(Sauvons nos Enfants des Micro-Ondes)
Jeudi, le 11 mars 2010 à 13h00 à la Salle de conférence de presse 130-S du Parlement à Ottawa
Le 11 mars 2010, M. Luc Malo, député du Bloc québécois et membre du Comité sur la Santé, va présenter à la Chambre des Communes la pétition de 1100 signatures du SEMO visant la protection du public vis-à-vis les dangers des micro-ondes provenant des antennes cellulaires et de la technologie du sans-fil.
Au cours des prochains jours, le Bloc québécois va demander au Comité sur la Santé, la création d'un sous-comité qui examinera le risque pour la santé et les normes traitant de l'exposition aux micro-ondes. Des députés des partis du Parti libéral du Canada et du Nouveau Parti Démocratique appuieront cette proposition. Le Parti Vert fera de même.
Au cours du dernier mois, plus de 5600 personnes de la région de Montréal ont signé diverses pétitions visant des antennes cellulaires près des garderies, des écoles et des maisons.
Une déclaration signée par plusieurs dirigeants d'organisation pan-canadiennes (Ontario, Colombie‑Britannique, Île-du-Prince-Édouard, etc.), tel que le collectif SEMO, vont appuyer la pétition du SEMO et la proposition du Bloc québécois de créer un sous-comité sur les micro-ondes.
Ce n'est plus un débat scientifique qui est en question, mais bien un enjeu politique et un risque important pour la santé de la population vis-à-vis un enjeu financier de taille.
Seront présents à la conférence de presse:
Pascale Clauzier, maintenant électrosensible après avoir travaillé près d'une antenne cellulaire, et des représentants des partis d'opposition.
Enseignant en Électricité
Porte-parole du Collectif SEMO
450 471 8371
Plus bas : texte de la pétition du SEMO et la lettre aux membres du comité sur la santé (anglais)
Texte en français de la pétition:.
Pétition : Sauvons nos Enfants des Micro-ondes S.E.M.O
À la Chambre des communes du Canada réunie au Parlement à Ottawa
Nous, soussignés, faisons remarquer à la Chambre des communes ce qui suit :
Attendu que :
-Les normes canadiennes en matière de protection (Code de sécurité 6) contre les micro-ondes émises par les appareils de communications protègent la population uniquement des effets avérés, dit thermiques ;
-Des effets biologiques des micro-ondes ayant des incidences majeures sur la santé (cancer) ont été constatés à des niveaux d'exposition très inférieurs aux normes canadiennes ;
-Le rapport indépendant et international Bioinitiative en a fait la synthèse et a publié des recommandations pour en protéger la population ;
-Ce rapport a été reconnu par l'Agence européenne de l'environnement, le Parlement européen et a inspiré de nombreuses villes et pays pour l'établissement de nouvelles normes de protection ;
-Les enfants sont les personnes les plus vulnérables aux micro-ondes ;
-Des études épidémiologiques, des recherches en laboratoire et des études de cas ont confirmé les effets biologiques néfastes pour la santé des micro-ondes émis à faible puissance durant de longues durées.
À ces causes, nous pétitionnaires, demandons au Parlement de modifier les normes de protection du public des micro-ondes en limitant l'exposition de la population à :
· 1000 uW/m2 maximum à l'extérieur des bâtiments (0,6 v/m)
· 10 uW/m2 maximum à l'intérieur de tout lieu habitable (0,06 v/m)
· Et qu'une zone de précaution de 300 m sans antennes cellulaires autour des écoles et des garderies soit appliquée.
-1100 signatures manuscrites,
-180 signatures sur internet au www.dangersemo.com
Copy of the letter to all MP members of Health Committee
Subject: Canadian exposure to microwaves
As a member of the Federal Health Committee at Ottawa you will have soon ( 11 March 2010) to discuss a proposition coming from the Bloc Québécois ( Luc Malo, MP) to create a specific committee to exam the situation about wireless communication in Canada and the effect of microwaves on the Canadian population and specifically children. At the same time, the Bloc Québecois will present a petition to Parliament with more than 1100 signatures asking for new and real policy limiting micro-wave exposure.
We ask you to accept this proposal and create as soon as possible a hearing on this subject, as it was done in September 09 in the US Senate and in May 09 in France. We ask you, ( to, if you agree with us) to try to inform and persuade the other MPs that there is a very important health issue.
As Canadians who are interested in the microwave communication industry for several years, we are convinced that there are now enough studies which show adverse effects on health to ask for the precautionary principle to be applied (see Bioinitiative Report). We have now enough Canadians suffering from electrosensitivity because of their exposure to microwaves. A hearing on this will show that there is not consensus about the safety of microwaves. Please let others than industry speakers say what is the evidence that microwaves are dangerous.
We thank you for your interest and we will follow with interest the work of the health committee.
Speaker for Collectif SEMO
( Sauvons Nos Enfants des Micro-Ondes-Save our Children from Micro-Waves)
N.B: The Telecom companies could put an cell tower emitting microwaves just in front of your house, your apartment or the daycare where your children go, and you could not say anything. In Canada microwave use by wireless companies are always assumed safe for everybody everywhere (children and pregnant women included). If you are well-informed and concerned about bad effects of microwaves you only have to move away to protect yourself and your family. Is that the Canada that we want? Is there a land of democratie or a land for millions of profit for the Telecom companies?
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W.E.E.P. – The Canadian initiative to stop Wireless Electrical and Electromagnetic Pollution