Wireless Electrical and Electromagnetic Pollution News
31 January 2011
In January 2010, Usha Kiran apartments, on Carmichael Road in the plush South Mumbai area was in the news, after four of its residents died due to cancer caused by electromagnetic radiation (EMR) emitted from the cluster of cell towers located on the terrace of the opposite building, named Vijay Apartments. It was only after a protracted fight by the residents of several buildings in the vicinity that these towers were removed. Since then, there have been several instances where mobile phone companies have yielded to the demands of citizens and removed cell towers rather than face the consequences of negative publicity due to protracted legal fights.But is the government sensitive to these concerns of the aam aadmi that it woos? Not if you were to go by its cold response to a public meeting to discuss the "Radiation Health Hazards from Cell Towers: Myth or Reality". The meeting has been organised by Bombay Telephone Users' Association (BTUA) on Saturday 29 January 2011 "to raise awareness among the citizens and to help government in taking required steps in resolving this issue." The Association has been requesting the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) to send a representative to attend the meeting with no success.Experts from various fields will speak on the subject. The panel will consist of Dr RS Sharma from Indian Council for Medical Research, Anil Prakash representing Telecom User Group of India, New Delhi and Professor Girish Kumar, head of wireless from IIT Bombay, who is been researching the effects of EMR for the past couple of years. "The aim of the programme is to bring together the citizens and experts who are concerned about the issue and share their knowledge on the subject. This will at least make the government aware, and required steps would be taken to curb the problems arising out of these towers." said Mr Achintya Mukherjee, secretary of BTUA. "We have invited officials from DoT, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), but so far no confirmation has been received from them. Among the mobile network operators, IDEA cellular has confirmed that they will send their representatives" added Mr Mukherjee. Nor is there any participation from the BMC and the Maharashtra Government. It may be recalled that Prithviraj Chavan had stated in a written reply tabled in the Vidhan Sabha on 7 December 2010 that "the government is collecting feedback from concerned departments for framing comprehensive rules and regulations for installation of mobile towers by cellphone service providers in the state."Government of Maharashtra, appointed a committee in March last year headed by additional chief health secretary to study the effect of mobile phone towers on public health. The committee had representatives from the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre and Tata Memorial hospital, recommended to ban such towers near schools, hospitals and it should be only restricted on rooftops of the building. In 2008, DoT has laid guidelines stating that the antennae must not directly face a nearby building. Despite this many such towers are visible across the city, as it remains main source of revenue for the housing societies. Often these towers are illegal and violate health and safety norms. Lack of participation from the government indicates clearly that "collecting feedback" is a mere formality. As in many other cases of consumer safety, the government will respond only to public interest litigation and only when it is directed by the judiciary.
Each of the new PG&E smart meters will have a small one-watt radio imbedded into it that allows two way communications between PG&E and the individual meter. Some have expressed concerns about health problems caused by this small radio.
The Federal Communications Commission limits the wattage and frequency of various radio communication devices, establishing maximum personal exposure limits for them. A smart meter generates about 1.4 percent of this limit.
The California Council on Science and Technology issued a report this month on "The Health Impacts of Radio Frequency from Smart Meters" which concluded that wireless smart meters "result in much smaller levels of radio frequency exposure than many existing common household electronic devices, particularly cell phones and microwave ovens." This also includes baby monitors and walkie-talkies.
The study also agrees the current FCC practices have an "adequate factor of safety against known thermally induced health impacts of existing common household electronic devices and smart meters." The study acknowledges that a series of health studies have not confirmed or identified any negative health effects caused from the non-thermal impacts of radio frequency emissions found in common household appliances. The study cautions that while this is true, because of the proliferation of such devices throughout modern society, continued study regarding possible long term effects is important.
The study assessed smart meters with their transmitters stuck in the on position even though the meters are expected to transmit for only about 50 milliseconds at a time. A cell phone exposes persons to between 1,000 and 5,000 microwatts per square centimeter per use, a microwave oven at two feet between 50 and 200 units. Being 10 feet away from a smart meter stuck in the transmit mode will expose someone to a maximum of 4 units; this will go up to a maximum exposure of 40 units at three feet.
"Concerns over potential impacts [associated with the non-thermal effects of RF emissions] should apply to all other electronic devices that operate with similar frequency and power levels, including cell phones, computers, cordless phones, televisions and wireless routers," from the CCST study.
The Sunday Edition
One hour CBC radio program about people harmed by cell phone antennas.
The Hidden Hazards of Microwave Cookingby: Anthony Wayne and Lawrence Newell
Two broadcasters want the B.C. Supreme Court to throw out a nuisance bylaw in Colwood, saying it's an unconstitutional attempt to regulate Triangle Mountain transmission tower signals.
But the municipality says the towers emit electromagnet radiation and broadcasting signals that interfere with everything from residents' telephones to electronics to garagedoor openers and do constitute a nuisance -something the municipality has the statutory authority to regulate.
CTV and Rogers Broadcasting Ltd., along with Triangle Mountain property owner Constance Christina Gibson, filed a civil claim in B.C. Supreme Court this month seeking to have Colwood's nuisance bylaw on electronic signals -which was passed last February -declared unconstitutional and set aside as null and void.
The broadcasters' statement of claim says: "The subject matter of radiocommunications and broadcasting lies within the exclusive jurisdiction of Parliament.
This exclusive jurisdiction includes the location, licensing and regulation of the operations of radio transmitters and the towers on which they are located."
When contacted, Scott Henderson, CTV vice-president communications, issued the following statement on behalf of Rogers and CTV: "The bylaw enacted by the City of Colwood is beyond the powers of the municipality. It has the effect of regulating the operation of radio broadcasting towers, a regulatory right that lies solely within the jurisdiction of Industry Canada.
"Our towers have always been, and will continue to be, operated in compliance with all statutory and regulatory permits and licences, including those set by Industry Canada. Additionally, the site has been designed, constructed and maintained to meet Safety Code 6 standards set by Health Canada."
The city maintains the bylaw "is not directed to the regulation of radio communications, but to nuisances," according to its response to civil claim filed this week
The bylaw states: "No person shall permit telecommunications equipment on their property be used, knowingly or unknowingly, in a manner that interferes with a person's reasonable use, security and enjoyment of his/her land.
"No person shall allow electronic signals to emanate from his property that interfere with the operation of another person's electronic equipment."
The city says the bylaw was enacted specifically for the purpose of preventing nuisance -something within its powers under the Community Charter.
Neither the statements in the notice of claim nor the city's response have been proven in court.
Colwood chief administrative officer Ross McPhee said there has been no attempt by the municipality to enforce the bylaw.
Mayor David Saunders said he was not fully briefed on the civil suit and could not comment.
Two Colwood councillors, both members of the municipality's EMR (electromagnetic radiation) Transmitters Task Force, expressed frustration that they had not even been briefed on the situation.
Councillors Ernie Robertson and Brian Tucknott said they have been kept in the dark, which, they said, is typical of the municipality's over-secretive manner of conducting business.
"I feel that my role as an elected official has been totally circumvented by unelected people. How can I be accountable to my constituents if I'm not in the know?" Robertson said.
"This is the culture that pervades the way information is communicated to council today. So many things are being done in camera, so many things are being done in a way that doesn't meet the test of public input and council involvement. Decisions are being made in the office and not in the council chamber, and that is of serious concern to me." email@example.com
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