Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The potential dangers of electromagnetic fields and their effect on the environment

Doc. 12608

6 May 2011

The potential dangers of electromagnetic fields and their effect on the environment

Committee on the Environment, Agriculture and Local and Regional Affairs

Rapporteur: Mr Jean HUSS, Luxembourg, Socialist Group


The potential health effects of the very low frequency of electromagnetic fields surrounding power lines and electrical devices are the subject of ongoing research and a significant amount of public debate. While electrical and electromagnetic fields in certain frequency bands have fully beneficial effects which are applied in medicine, other non-ionising frequencies, be they sourced from extremely low frequencies, power lines or certain high frequency waves used in the fields of radar, telecommunications and mobile telephony, appear to have more or less potentially harmful, non-thermal, biological effects on plants, insects and animals, as well as the human body when exposed to levels that are below the official threshold values.

One must respect the precautionary principle and revise the current threshold values; waiting for high levels of scientific and clinical proof can lead to very high health and economic costs, as was the case in the past with asbestos, leaded petrol and tobacco.

Read more at: http://assembly.coe.int/main.asp?Link=/documents/workingdocs/doc11/edoc12608.htm

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

“Safe” distance from Cell Phone and Broadcast Transmitters - Dr. Magda Havas

Magda Havas, B.Sc., Ph.D.
Environmental & Resource Studies
August 20, 2008,

Re: “Safe” distance from Cell Phone and Broadcast Transmitters
Mayor Young and Council of Langford,

It is my understanding that you want to know what the “safe” distances are from cell phone and
broadcast transmitters. This is a difficult question to answer and depends on the height of towers,number and configuration of antennas, their signal strength, proximity to water, elevation of the surrounding land, as well as the presence of trees and metal structures that could either attenuate or enhance exposure. Also, some scientists believe that, similar to ionizing radiation, there is no “safe” exposure for microwave radiation.

However, if we put these concerns aside for the time being and attempt to estimate “safe”
distance based on the best available science we come up with two values. For cell phone
transmitters the distance beyond which no adverse health effects have been document is
approximately 400 metres. For broadcast antennas the “safe” distance may be in the order of
3.5 to 4 km.

These distances for cell phone antennas are based on studies from various countries including
Germany (Naila Study 2004) and Israel (Wolf et al. 2004) for cancers as well as Spain (Santini et al. 2002) for electrical sensitivity. The values for broadcast antennas are based on studies for both adult and childhood leukemia in Australia (Hocking et al. 1996), UK (Dolk et al. 1997), and Italy (Michelozzi et al. 1998). The levels at which adverse health effects have been reported are orders of magnitude below the Canadian Safety Code 6 Guideline. These “effects” are not psychological as animals (dairy cattle, mice, birds) also respond adversely to the radiation from these antennas.

Based on the available science, placing antennas on high rise buildings, near schools and
embedding them in residential communities is an unwise course of action.

-Magda Havas

Reference - http://www.causetm.ca/Dr%20M.%20Havas%20letter%20to%20Langford%20re%20safety.pdf

Friday, May 13, 2011

Cell Phone Safety

The following presentation from L&T was sent to me by a friend. Its simple and crisp.

Germany warns citizens to avoid using Wi-Fi

The Independent, 9 Sept 2007

Environment Ministry's verdict on the health risks from wireless technology puts the British government to shame.

People should avoid using Wi-Fi wherever possible because of the risks it may pose to health, the German government has said.

Its surprise ruling – the most damning made by any government on the fast-growing technology – will shake the industry and British ministers, and vindicates the questions that The Independent on Sunday has been raising over the past four months.

And Germany's official radiation protection body also advises its citizens to use landlines instead of mobile phones, and warns of "electrosmog" from a wide range of other everyday products, from baby monitors to electric blankets.

The German government's ruling – which contrasts sharply with the unquestioning promotion of the technology by British officials – was made in response to a series of questions by Green members of the Bundestag, Germany's parliament.

The Environment Ministry recommended that people should keep their exposure to radiation from Wi-Fi "as low as possible" by choosing "conventional wired connections". It added that it is "actively informing people about possibilities for reducing personal exposure".

Its actions will provide vital support for Sir William Stewart, Britain's official health protection watchdog, who has produced two reports calling for caution in using mobile phones and who has also called for a review of the use of Wi-Fi in schools. His warnings have so far been ignored by ministers and even played down by the Health Protection Agency, which he chairs.

By contrast the agency's German equivalent – the Federal Office for Radiation Protection – is leading the calls for caution.

Florian Emrich, for the office, says Wi-Fi should be avoided "because people receive exposures from many sources and because it is a new technology and all the research into its health effects has not yet been carried out".


WEBSITE ON Working for Safe Technologies for Nurseries, Schools and Colleges - http://www.wifiinschools.org.uk/index.html

Radiation Pattern of a Cell Tower Antenna

Radiation Pattern from the cell tower Antenna has been drawn for basic understanding of a radiation pattern.

This diagram was mainly used to describe why on a certain building the radiation levels vary from one apartment(say 7th floor) to the apartment above or below (6th and 8th floor) for a building at Khar (West), Mumbai.

The radiation pattern of a cell tower antenna is defined by its lobes. Radiation will be highest from the primary lobes in the horizontal direction. There is also radiation from secondary lobes.As seen in the figure, the readings that will be taken in between the lobes will be much lesser.

As seen in the figure, the radiation will also be high vertically downward from the secondary lobes. This is what most mobile operaters hide or are not aware of in India.

Distance is another critical factor. The power density varies by (1/R2), where R is the distance. People living within 50-300meter radius are in the high radiation zone. The figure below is a study from Germany. In the US, amplifiers of 1-2 Watt each are used in majority of the residential areas. However in India, at many places even 100 to 200 W amplifiers are used and there are clusters of antennas from multiple operators on the roof top of several residential and office premises.

Below is a simulated radiation pattern of a cell tower antenna by Prof. Girish Kumar from IIT Bombay, an expert on cell phone tower radiation and with experience of more than three decades in Antennas and Microwaves.

USHA KIRAN BUILDING - several cancer cases

Through the help of the above typical radiation pattern, let’s analyze the news reported in Mid-day, Mumbai dated Jan. 3, 2010, which stated - “Mumbai's swanky Usha Kiran building says the four cancer cases there could be linked to mobile towers installed on the facing Vijay Apartments”. The picture taken from the Usha Kiran building of the several antennas installed on the seventh floor of Vijay Apartments is shown in Fig. below.

Recently (as on Jan 2011) two more cancer cases have been reported on the 5th and on the 10th floor.
People living in the 6th, 7th and 8th floor in the opposite building will get maximum radiation as they are in the main beam direction. People living on the other floors will receive lesser radiation as beam maxima is reduced considerably as can be observed from vertical radiation pattern. In the horizontal direction again, people living in the front side of the antenna will receive much higher radiation compared to people living in the back side of antenna.


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Muswell Hill residents fight telecoms giants over phone mast

Neighbours are furious that Vodafone and O2 are appealing to the Planning Inspectorate to build the mast in Bedford Road, Muswell Hill - branded an “eyesore” by residents - despite Haringey Council planning officers twice throwing it out for “cluttering” the street.

They fear the corporations will do whatever they can to push the plans through, running roughshod over public opinion and “putting money over people’s lives”.

Tessa Thomas, a health journalist of Alexandra Park Road, is one of several residents to have joined an anti-mast campaign dubbed OMBED (Opposition to the Mast in Bedford Road).

She said: “The mobile phone operators are trying to force this through in the teeth of local opposition and knowing that many of those people are very vulnerable.

“The planning services invite people’s views but then get their arms twisted by operators who make over £1billion a year profits and put this before people’s welfare.

“The consequences if this is allowed to go through could be very serious indeed.”

Vodafone and O2 say the mast, set to be built on the pavement outside Alexandra Palace railway station, is needed to provide 3G coverage and better mobile phone reception for customers in the area.

But almost 30 letters of protest were sent to a planning committee when the scheme was unveiled in May last year. It came just months before a similar application by the mobile phone companies was also rejected for a site on the same street.

A string of objections said the pole would block the narrow pavement, ruin the approach to the historic Alexandra Palace and be far too close to homes and a nearby community centre The JAN Trust.

Critics also fear that radiation emissions could pose serious health risks like dizziness, depression and hearing problems.

Rafaat Mughal, founding director of the women’s organisation The JAN Trust, said: “We have thousands of people visit us every year with problems like domestic violence and sex trafficking - one word about these health risks and they won’t come anymore and we’ll have to shut down.

“These companies put money over people’s lives and these are vulnerable hard to reach communities.”

The Planning Inspectorate is set to decide on whether to overrule Haringey Council’s Planning Committee in the coming weeks.

But even if the scheme is rejected, residents fear they will not hear the last of it.

Alexandra ward councillor Nigel Scott branded the mast an “eyesore”, adding: “The problem with large companies with huge amounts of money is that they can keep on appealing for as long as it takes. The whole system is skewed against local residents, but this is what we’ve come to expect.”

He added that residents’ suggestions to relocate the mast somewhere else along the railway line and away from people’s homes have so far been ignored.

A spokeswoman for Vodafone said radiation levels are well below national guidelines, adding: “We recognise that some communities are concerned regarding the deployment of radio base stations close to residential areas but without radio base stations, mobile phones will not be able to work.”

Muswell Hill residents fight telecoms giants over phone mast - News - Hornsey Journal

Mobile users for > 4 years and >30 minutes a day are at risk of developing hearing loss

Long term mobile phone use could cause hearing loss

Study on hearing loss attributed to mobile phone use states the blindingly obvious

ExpressIndia.com have reported on a study conducted by the Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research (PGIMER). The study concludes that, “People using mobile phones for more than four years and longer than 30 minutes a day are at risk of developing hearing loss particularly at higher speech frequencies. This hearing loss was more in the dominant ear (ear of use). Presence of fullness in the ears, ear warmth, strange noises in the ear are warning signals which should not be ignored“. The study took 18 months.

Long term mobile phone use could cause hearing loss

Cell Phone Radiation? Text, Don’t Talk, advises FCC

Forbes, May. 9 2011

How dangerous is your cell phone? The unfortunate reality is that you can’t really know. Even so, only one year ago, progressive San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsome proposed an ordinance that would have required that all retailers inform consumers about the amount of radiation that cell phones emit. Material printed in 11pt. type would have been posted next to phones disclosing their specific absorption rate (“SAR”), which is a measure of radio frequency energy (radiation) absorbed by the body. Last Thursday, however, the City postponed enacting the law, which would have been trendsetting in the United States. The San Francisco Chronicle’s editorial page called the City’s decision “a big disappointment, especially for a city that prides itself as willing to take on powerful interests for a social good.” (May 6, 2011).

According to the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”), SAR is “a straightforward means for measuring the radio frequency exposure characteristics of all cell phones to ensure that they are within the safety guidelines of the FCC.” The FCC, which has been setting those guidelines since 1996, has set a ceiling of 1.6 watts per kilogram (w/kg) of energy as the highest amount of radiation that a phone may emit and still be sold in the United States. The FCC reports that cell phone manufacturers must conduct their SAR testing under “the most severe, worst-case (and highest power) operating conditions.”

The fact is that the scientific jury is still out on the effects of cell phone-emitted radiation. Several studies suggest that cell phone users have a “significant risk” of developing brain tumors, salivary gland tumors, and eye cancer. Not so, reports the FCC — its maximum SAR exposure standard

"is set at a level well below that at which laboratory testing indicates, and medical and biological experts generally agree, adverse health effects could occur."

Cell phones have only been part of our daily lives since the mid-1990s. As a result, neither scientists nor the FCC nor cell phone manufacturers have been able to confirm their studies based on even one generation of long-term cell phone users. Such a data set (in crude terms) doesn’t really exist. Yet both the FCC and cell phone manufacturers are concerned. The FCC cautions:

"For users who are concerned with the adequacy of this standard or who otherwise wish to further reduce their exposure, the most effective means . . . are to hold the cell phone away from the head or body and to use a speakerphone or hands-free accessory."

The advice continues:

"Consider texting rather than talking — but don’t text while you drive."

Why do I feel as though I’ve just opened a dust-covered issue of National Geographic with June Cleaver advertising Whirpool on one side and the Marlboro man riding into the sunset on the opposite fold?

What’s interesting to me, as the Chronicle points out, is that “almost all manufacturers include advice for customers to limit their exposure to radiation in user guides,” including limiting the length of calls. Let’s look at this. Why is it that manufacturers who (1) advise customers to limit exposure to radiation simultaneously (2) defeat what would have been a purportedly “business-killing” law that wouldn’t even have gone that far? How can we reconcile those two positions? In the short-term, their lobbying efforts paid off. San Francisco gave in. Now let’s assume — assume — for the sake of argument that scientific studies within the next 15-20 years demonstrate within the mainstream of scientific thought that radiation from cell phones does indeed cause the negative health effects discussed above.

What then? Are you going to sue the business interests that caused consumer-oriented laws to be pushed aside? But wait, those same interests provided you written information advising you to limit the length of your calls, perfectly in line with guidance provided by the FCC.

Did you not know or should you not have known then (now) about the health risks associated with your cell phone use? Because if so, then your statute of limitations — the time within which you can seek legal remedies — likely will have expired.

So text, don’t talk.


Industry Funded Cell Phone Study Ignores Evidence, Whitewashes Results

Truth on Medicine - June 30, 2010 - A funny thing happened on the way to publication of a WHO sponsored study on cell phones and cancer risks. First the study was delayed for four years. Then a news embargo was placed on study participants. And finally, instead of reporting proof of cell phone dangers as had been reported all the way up until just days before the study was finally released, the study instead reported that it found no evidence of cell phone dangers, contradicting the study’s evidence as well as the opinions of some study scientists.

In actuality, the Interphone Study did discover that long-term usage increased the chance of glioma by 40 per cent, but dismissed the risk because of possible biases and errors. Six of eight Interphone studies found increased risks of glioma, the most common brain tumor, with one study finding a 39 per cent increase.

An Israeli study found heavy users were about 50 per cent more likely to suffer tumors of the parotid salivary gland. Two studies into acoustic neuroma, a tumor of a nerve between the ear and brain, reported a higher risk after using mobiles for 10 years. A Swedish report reported the risk as being 3.9 times higher.

Contradicting the study’s conclusions, Dr Elisabeth Cardis of the Centre for Research in Environmental Epidemiology in Barcelona who led the study said: “Overall, my opinion is that the results show a real effect.” Bruce Armstrong, another Interphone researcher from the University of Sydney, said: “There is evidence that there may be a risk; Interphone has made that a little stronger.”

Interphone has been rife with controversy almost from the day it was set up in 2000. Some of the criticism stems from the fact that mobile phone manufacturers partly funded the project to the tune of around 5.5 million euros, and there were concerns that such funding compromised the study’s independence. The scope of the project was also questioned, as it had left out children and adolescents, which are the groups most vulnerable and most susceptible to brain tumors. In addition, many observers and commentators have suspected that the four year delay was due to disagreements among the researchers. Based on what has transpired, such concerns appear to have been valid.

Until an embargo was placed on all news about the study, all indications had been that the study would conclude that there was evidence of dangers from cell phones and recommend measures to decrease the danger. Last year the Daily Telegraph reported that a major WHO study will finally announce later this year that “long-term use of mobile phones can cause brain tumors.”

Only last month, the London Times was reporting similar information. Then came the industry spin that should have provided a strong clue that something was afoot. On May 16th, a news release from the Mobile Manufacturers Forum group which helped fund the study reported that the new study “provides significant further reassurance about the safety of mobile phones. The overall analysis is consistent with previous studies and the significant body of research, reporting no increased health risk from using mobile phones.”

While several other countries have strengthened warnings about cell phones, Britain’s Department of Health continues to maintain that “the current balance of evidence does not show health problems caused by using mobile phones” and suggests only that children be “discouraged” from making “non-essential” calls while adults should “keep calls short”.

Given the Interphone Study’s conclusions, it does not appear likely that Britain will be strengthening their guidelines soon. One can only conclude that the mobile phone manufacturers got their 5.5 million Euros’ worth.


1.5 lakh cell towers yet to meet radiation standards

Jan. 7: Despite missing several deadlines, telcos have still not been able to certify over one lakh telecom towers on radiation emission levels. The past few years have seen concerns over emissions emitted by these towers, and the possible implications on health.

The Centre had asked telecom companies to self-certify these towers on radiation emission levels. So far, 1.3 lakh of the 5.6 lakh odd towers in the country still remain to get the ‘self-certification’ stamp by telecom firms.

The earlier deadline was November 15. These companies could now face a fine of Rs. 5 lakh for each site that hasn’t been certified yet.
However, telecom firms claim these towers are safe and certifying the remaining towers is merely a waste of time. On their part GSM operators association, Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) said that as per the guidelines, companies besides giving certificates that these towers (BTS) adhere to radiation norms have also to comply with other formalities such as submitting photographs of BTS’s and putting signs on them.

“As far as the critical part of testing these BTS are concerned, that has been completed all over the country. It is in others parts where we are facing delays. Because all the parts of the order has not been completed, and the telecom operators have not submitted the applications,” said Mr Rajan S. Mathews, director general COAI.

He added that the operators have asked the telecom department to give operators some more time and government is considering it. However, civil society groups demand that radiation audits should be performed by a third party. An equivalent would be to expect a speeding driver to voluntarily disclose the violation to police, they point out.

1.5 lakh cell towers yet to meet radiation standards | The Asian Age