Tuesday, 4 March 2008

How safe are mobile phones

We love our mobiles... but are we being told all the facts about how safe they are?



3rd March 2008

We love our mobile phones - all 70 million of them.

They are both fashion accessories and an essential part of our lives. Yet since they first became widely available in the 1990s, there have been nagging doubts about just how safe they are.

Could they cause cancers in the brain? Does living near a mobile phone mast raise your risk of other cancers? Despite official reassurances, we still don't seem to be any closer to a definite answer.

Dangerous call? Opinion is divided on the safety of mobile phones

Last September, the Mobile Telecommunications and Health Research (MTHR) programme, which is funded jointly by the Government and the industry, concluded that mobile phones, base stations and masts "have not been found to be associated with any biological or adverse health effects".

This conclusion was based on the findings of the working of the cells in our bodies. A major UK report eight years ago warned that children could be especially vulnerable to mobile phone emissions because of their thinner skulls and developing nervous system.

However, the Health Protection Agency, which is responsible for safety in this area, has stated that as far as adults are concerned, wi-fi, phones and radio masts all operate on a power level that is well within the accepted guidelines, and that there is no evidence that they pose a threat to people's health.

Speaking last September, the chairman of the MTHR programme, Professor Lawrie Challis, said: "There is no evidence for immediate or short-term health effects" — though he added there was a "slight hint" of increased risk of brain tumour among long term users.

There have not been any official studies on children, but because children have been shown to react differently to environmental stimuli, Professor Challis said it was "possible that they were at greater risk".

The advice to parents is to limit children's use of mobiles, and ensure that those under the age of eight do not use them at all.

For some experts, this warning does not go nearly far enough. Professor Denis Henshaw, head of the human radiation effects group at Bristol University, says: "We are steeped in denial over the safety of mobile phones and related technologies."

He points, as an example, to a recent Austrian study which found a raised risk of breast cancer near phone masts. "We have emission levels in the UK similar to those in Austria — and yet there is no warning to people of possible dangers."

Contrast the UK position with that in other countries, where at the very least they take the approach that when it comes to this new technology, better safe than sorry.

The German government has taken a more cautious line over wi-fi. Last September, the German environment ministry recommended that people should keep their exposure to radiation as low as possible by replacing wi-fi with a cabled connection.

In 2006, the city of Frankfurt decided not to install wireless systems in schools until there was more health research.

In Austria, there is a much greater level of professional concern about the possible dangers. Three years ago, the Vienna Chamber of Doctors put up more than 21,000 posters in surgeries and other places with very specific warnings about mobile phones, such as: "Use your phone as little as possible" and "Men - never keep a phone in your trouser pockets as it can reduce fertility."

A study reported last month found that out of 360 men attending an infertility clinic, those who used their mobile the most had the poorest sperm quality.

The Austrian Medical Association is currently lobbying against the installation of wi-fi in schools. "Children using a laptop that is broadcasting wi-fi are very close to the antennae," says Dr Gerd Oberfeld, the association's spokesperson 23 research projects.

Yet there has been a considerable amount of other research suggesting the technology might not be so safe after all.

For instance, last October, two Swedish professors pulled together the results of 11 studies involving people who had used mobiles for more than a decade and found they were 20 per cent more likely to develop a benign tumour in the inner ear, and 30 per cent more likely to develop a type of brain tumour known as a malignant glioma.

Last summer, a group of 25 international scientists — known as the BioInitiative Working Group — carried out a major review of the evidence for the effect of microwaves on health.

They found evidence for a raised risk of brain tumour from mobile phones, and also expressed concern about a possible raised risk of breast cancer, changes to genes, and inflammation in the blood vessels associated with conditions such as heart disease.

And it's not just mobiles and phone masts that are being implicated. Some experts are concerned about wi-fi networks which allow you to connect your computer directly to the internet without the need for wires.

These wi-fi networks are found increasingly in homes, offices and schools, as well as in cafes, hotels and other public places.

Last month, this long-running issue was given a new twist with the publication of a survey which found that cordless phones - used in millions of homes and offices - give off more radiation than mobile phones. The reason is that the base acts like a mini mobile phone mast, constantly broadcasting a signal.

All of these - mobile phones and masts, cordless phones and wi-fi networks - use microwaves. The fear is that these might affect on environmental issues. "There is a huge amount of evidence that being that close to an aerial poses a danger to human health."

The local government authorities of the province of Salzburg have already advised schools not to install wi-fi. Oberfeld says: "There are some perfectly good, safe alternative ways of connecting to the internet, such as infra-red."

Infra-red uses light, which our bodies are used to, rather than microwaves. Eighteen months ago, nearly 50 scientists at a meeting of the International Commission for Electromagnetic Safety in Benevento, Italy, agreed on a statement warning about the dangers of microwave emissions.

The scientists came from a range of top academic institutions, including COlumbia University in the U.S., the Karolinska Institute in Sweden and the University of Washington in Seattle.

There was now evidence, the commission said, that long-term use of mobile phones could raise the risk of cancer in children and brain tumours.

These scientists called on governments to promote alternatives to wireless systems, tell people about the potential risks of mobile and cordless phones, and to limit their use by children and teenagers.

But while part of the debate is about which bits of research to take notice of and which shoudl be ignored, there is also a more fundamental difference over what are "safe" levels of intensity of microwave exposure.

The UK's levels are well within the recommended levels set by the International Commission on Non-Ionising Radiation Protection in 1998 - so how can there be any risk?

These levels were aimed at preventing any possibility of heating damage through microwaves.

But the big question now is whether microwaves can affect us not by heating, but by interfering with the activity of cells in our bodies at a power level way below the current safety levels.

The possibility of these "non-thermal" effects was raised eight years ago in a major report on mobile phone safety by Sir William Stewart, then chairman of Tayside University Hospitals NHS Trust and now head of the Health Protection Agency, the body responsible for monitoring microwave safety.

However, the report by the Mobile Telecommunications and Health Research programme last September concluded that there was no evidence for an effect other than heating and that there was "no need to support further work in this area".

It's not a view shared by the Benevento scientists in their statement in 2006: "Arguments that weak (low intensity) electromagnetic fields cannot affect biological systems do not represent the current spectrum of scientific opinion."

Indeed, the BioInitiative review last summer went further and called for safety levels to be lowered to reflect these non-thermal effects of microwaves on our bodies.

Last month, the Irish Doctors Environmental Association said that the current thermal-based guidelines were clearly no longer appropriate and called on the government to "immediately start research into the non-thermal effects of exposure to electromagnetic radiation".

"There is absolutely no doubt these effects exist," says Dr Andrew Goldsworthy, a biologist and expert in low frequency microwave radiation, and honorary lecturer at Imperial College in London.

"For instance, we've known for more than 30 years that electromagnetic fields affect the behaviour of calcium in living cells."

He claims that this could explain the symptoms reported by people who say they are affected by pulsed microwave radiation - the sort emitted by mobile phones.

"The textbook symptoms of too little calcium - such as fatigue, muscles cramps, irregular heart rhythm and gut problems - are very similar to those reported by people who say they are affected by microwave radiation," he says.

Professor Henshaw of Bristol University agrees. The idea that microwaves don't affect our health is "a total red herring", he says.

"The real question is: Why should anybody who understands physics and biology be surprised that low level radiation has an effect on health?

"We need to start thinking about microwave radiation the way we think about atmospheric pollution caused by cars," suggests Henshaw.

"We know that cars emit harmful chemicals: we can even calculate the number of premature deaths caused as a result (around 20,000). But we have rules and regulations on emissions - with the result that while car numbers continue to rise, pollution levels have fallen.

"Mobile phones and the rest aren't going to go away, but could we do more to acknowledge the possible problem so people can make an informed choice about using them and can learn to deal with the effects?"

The need for better warning is echoed by electromagnetic research group Powerwatch, which believes that mobiles should come with a health warning, like cigarettes.

"The evidence that passive smoking causes harm is actually much weaker than the evidence for damage by pulsed low frequency microwaves,' claims Graham Philips, Powerwatch's technical manager.

The media is sometimes accused of creating false debates over health and safety, setting the opinion of one or two renegade scientists against the evidence-based authoritative view of the majority.

The authority of the scientific sceptics suggests this isn't what is going on here. The one thing that both sides more or less agree on is the need for more research.

The last word, then, to the Health Protection Agency. "I've not seen any evidence that suggests I should be worried about my personal health as a result of using a mobile phone," says the agency's spokesman Dr Michael Clark.

"Street lamps emit radiation and I'm not worried about them. Radio waves are just next to microwaves on the electromagnetic spectrum and I'm not worried about listening to Radio 4 either. But I keep an open mind on the subject."

Monday, 25 February 2008

Balmori:Childhood Leukemia and EM radiation


Leucemia infantil(EL">http://www.nortecastilla.es/prensa/20080222/opinion/leucemia-infantil-20080222.html">(EL NORTE DE CASTILLA)

Childhood Leukemia

22.02.2008 - ALFONSO BALMORI

Translation at foot of each paragraph

DE nuevo se repite la historia, esta vez en Palencia. El nombre del García Quintana vuelve a ocupar las
portadas de los diarios junto al del Colegio Juan de Mena, ambos unidos por un hilo invisible de
amargura, maldición e impotencia.
El edil de obras del Ayuntamiento palentino afirma rotundo que ha sido una casualidad.

[Once again history repeats itself, this time in Palencia. The name Garcia Quintana retuns to the headlines along with Juan de Mena College, both united by an invisible thread of bitterness, misfortune and impotence. The council roundly affirms that it is just a question of chance.]

Si las cuentas no me fallan, tres casos de leucemia infantil entre 150 alumnos del colegio, alcanzan un
porcentaje del 2%, que han contraído esta cruel enfermedad en solo tres años. ¿Puede considerarse
esto una casualidad?, o más bien debemos hablar de un cluster de cáncer infantil, provocado por algún
factor ambiental. El caso es que aquí no hay museo de ciencias al que echar la culpa. Tampoco es un
edificio viejo, que pueda albergar materiales peligrosos...

[If I'm not mistaken three leukemia cases amongst 150 school children is 2%. Can that be chance? Or shouldn't we be talking about a cluster of childhood leaukemia caused by some environmental factor. Here there is no science museum to blame. Nor is it an old building which could contain dangerous substances]

Otra vez la coincidencia de unas antenas cerca, también ilegales...
Se repiten las mismas cantinelas, las mismas declaraciones políticas que no tranquilizan a nadie, ni
siquiera a los que se ven obligados a pronunciarlas. Hay miedo, y la clase política es la que tiene más.
Tiene miedo de que se descubra que la telefonía móvil es un problema sanitario de primer orden.
Miedo por no haber sido capaces de advertir a tiempo sobre sus riesgos, en una absurda e inconcebible
huida hacia delante, mientras, de forma imparable, las revistas científicas publican trabajos cada vez
más concluyentes.

[Once again the coincidence of antennas nearby, illegal as it happens. They repeat the same excuses, the same political declarations which don't reassure anyone, not even those who are obliged to pronounce them. There is fear and the political class is the one which has most. They are afraid that it will be shown that the mobile phone network is a public health risk of the highest order. Fear that they haven't been capable of sounding the alarm in time about the risks in an absurd , unimaginable flight forward, whilst, relentlessly, the scientific journals publish increasingly conclusive findings]

Hace unas semanas, en la escuela de primaria 'Victor- Hugo' de Lyon, se diagnosticaron un caso de
leucemia y un linfoma en sendos niños de 10 años que estudiaban en el mismo aula. Casualmente la
escuela tiene antenas de telefonía colocada en su fachada. Como publicaba 'Le Progrès' el día 5 de
febrero se ordenó su inmediata desconexión, igual que en Palencia.

[a few weeks ago, in the primary school 'Victor Hugo” in Lyons, a case of leukemia and of lymphoma was diagnosed in a class of ten year olds. Coincidentally, the school had a mast right in front of it. As 'Le Progress” reported on the 5th February, its immediate disconnection was ordered, s in Palencia]

Hasta la fecha existen dos estudios científicos publicados sobre antenas y cáncer, y ambos relacionan
las antenas de telefonía con un incremento de casos de cáncer. El primero de ellos, un estudio Israelí
(Wolf y Wolf, 2004) publicado en 'International Journal of Cancer Prevention', indica un incremento de la
incidencia de cáncer 4,15 veces mayor en el área de influencia de una antena. El segundo, una
investigación realizada en Alemania (Eger et al., 2004) y publicada en 'Unwelt medizin gesellschaft',
concluye que el riesgo de contraer un cáncer se multiplica por 3,29 en el área interior de un radio de 400
metros de otra antena.

[Up until now, there have been two scientific studies relating increased cancer risk with proximity to masts.the first of these, an Israeli study published in the International Journal of Cancer Prevention indicates increased incidence, by a factor of 4.15, in areas near to masts. The second, a ninvestigation carried out in germany (Eger et al., 2004) and published in 'Unwelt medizin gesellschaft' gives a similar finding with an increased risk factor of 3.29 within 400 metres of masts.]

La Agencia de Prensa Austríaca (APA) acaba de difundir los resultados de un nuevo estudio, esta vez
oficial, realizado por el Dr. Gerd Oberfeld, médico del servicio de salud ambiental de Salzburgo. Él ha
encontrado también un aumento significativo del riesgo de cáncer debido a las radiaciones de una
antena de telefonía móvil situada en la proximidad de la estación de Graz.

[The Austrian Press agency(APA) has just released the results of a new study, an official one, carried out by Dr. Gerd Oberfeld, environmental medical officer for Salzburg. He has found a significant increase of cancer risk in the vicinity of a mast near Graz station.]

Ante estos resultados me surgen algunas preguntas: ¿por qué se empeñan nuestras autoridades en
repetir hasta la saciedad que no existen estudios que relacionen las antenas con el cáncer, cuando la
ciencia dice exactamente lo contrario? ¿Es para no crear alarma social? ¿Estarán creando una
«evidencia científica» virtual, a la medida de las necesidades de la industria?
Y la última: ¿por qué hay tantos profesionales que lo saben y mantienen silencio?

[Faced with these results certain questions come to mind: Why do our authorities keep endlessly repeating that there are no studies linking cancer to masts, when the science says exactly the opposite? Is it to avoid creating alarm or are they creating virtual “scientific evidence” taylored to the industry? And finally, why are there so many professionals who know and yet remain silent?]

EM causes genotoxic effects


Radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (UMTS, 1,950 MHz) induce genotoxic effects in vitro in human fibroblasts but not in lymphocytes

Int Arch Occup Environ Health. 2008 Feb 16; : 18278508

[My paper] Claudia Schwarz , Elisabeth Kratochvil , Alexander Pilger , Niels Kuster , Franz Adlkofer , Hugo Rüdiger

OBJECTIVE: Universal Mobile Telecommunication System (UMTS) was recently introduced as the third generation mobile communication standard in Europe. This was done without any information on biological effects and genotoxic properties of these particular high-frequency electromagnetic fields. This is discomforting, because genotoxic effects of the second generation standard Global System for Mobile Communication have been reported after exposure of human cells in vitro.

METHODS: Human cultured fibroblasts of three different donors and three different short-term human lymphocyte cultures were exposed to 1,950 MHz UMTS below the specific absorption rate (SAR) safety limit of 2 W/kg. The alkaline comet assay and the micronucleus assay were used to ascertain dose and time-dependent genotoxic effects. Five hundred cells per slide were visually evaluated in the comet assay and comet tail factor (CTF) was calculated. In the micronucleus assay 1,000 binucleated cells were evaluated per assay. The origin of the micronuclei was determined by fluorescence labeled anticentromere antibodies. All evaluations were performed under blinded conditions.

RESULTS: UMTS exposure increased the CTF and induced centromere-negative micronuclei (MN) in human cultured fibroblasts in a dose and time-dependent way. Incubation for 24 h at a SAR of 0.05 W/kg generated a statistically significant rise in both CTF and MN (P = 0.02). At a SAR of 0.1 W/kg the CTF was significantly increased after 8 h of incubation (P = 0.02), the number of MN after 12 h (P = 0.02). No UMTS effect was obtained with lymphocytes, either unstimulated or stimulated with Phytohemagglutinin.

CONCLUSION: UMTS exposure may cause genetic alterations in some but not in all human cells in vitro.

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

Cordless home phones sparks radiation fear


6th February 2006

Forget the health scares over mobile phones - the real danger could be the cordless landline in your home.

New research shows the base stations of some cordless phones emit twice as much radiation as a mobile phone mast.

Electromagnetic fields of up to six volts per metre were discovered at close range, compared with safe levels of 0.05 volts.

Unlike mobile phones, the base stations put out radiation even when they are not in use, the study by Swedish scientists showed.

The findings may show that digital enhanced cordless telephones (DECT) put people at risk of brain tumours, say campaign groups.

Campaigners recommend phone switch

They recommend users switch to a different type of phone.

"If you have a DECT with a base station in your house then you are filling your home with pulsing microwaves," said Alasdair Philips, of environmental pressure group Powerwatch.

The Health Protection Agency, which protects public health in Britain, said it would look at the study but did not think DECTs were dangerous.

However, the HPA conceded there was an "increased association" between acoustic neuromas - a type of benign growth in the ear which could cause deafness - and electromagnetic fields.

"It is something to be suspicious of but we are not saying it is causal," the HPA said. "Newer DECT base stations only switch on when they are in use and we support such precautionary measures."

British Telecom said there was no conclusive scientific evidence to show that DECTs were unsafe.

Saturday, 1 December 2007

Royal Society of London Meeting on BioInitiative Report

November 30, 2007

Royal Society of London Meeting on BioInitiative Report and the Urgent Need for New Biologically-Based Public Exposure Limits

LONDON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Safety is not assured, nor is it even likely under safety limits for electromagnetic radiation (EMR) that were originally designed for short-term exposures and never anticipated the new wireless world. A meeting this week at the Royal Society of London organized by Coghill Research Labs previewed the results of the newly released BioInitiative Report (www.bioinitiative.org). Experts from the fields of cancer, immunology, public health and environmental policy who authored the BioInitiative Report presented scientific evidence in support of an urgent call for new biologically-based public exposure standards to deal with pulsed radiofrequency and microwave radiation from cell phones and towers that transmit the signals (masts). The Report also recommends a thousand-fold lower limit for children exposed to electric energy sources like appliances and power lines.

At the Royal Society conference, BioInitiative co-editor Cindy Sage of Sage Associates summarized the scientific evidence from the Report documenting the inadequacy of existing international public safety standards. Brain tumor specialist Dr. Lennart Hardell, MD, PhD and Professor at University Hospital in Orebro, Sweden spoke on his BioInitiative chapter on brain tumors and acoustic neuromas. His work on cell phones, cordless phones and brain tumors is widely recognized to be pivotal in the debate about the safety of wireless radiofrequency and microwave radiation. Olle Johansson, PhD, Karolinska Institute and BioInitiative Report author presented on EMR effects on immune function and electrical hypersensitivity.

The world’s safety limits are out of date and irrelevant for chronic exposures to low-level EMR since they did not anticipate the advent of a wireless world, with new forms of pulsed radiation that widely affect populations 24-hours a day. Today’s wireless environment virtually layers all of us with multiple exposures that appear to cause health effects that may include chronic illness and death. The use of cell phones is linked to increased risk of brain tumors and acoustic neuromas with 10 or more years of use, and the evidence for exposure to EMF (from power lines and appliances) points to genetic damage, several childhood and adult cancers and Alzheimer’s disease.

Several other speakers chronicled life-changing illnesses that occurred following the erection of masts near their homes. Electrical hypersensitivity - which can be debilitating - is thought to result from large changes in the immune system caused by continuing exposure to artificial EMR, leading to chronic inflammation and allergic responses. Estimates reach from 3% to 10% of populations in the UK, other European and the Nordic countries.


Friday, 12 October 2007

Phone mast blunders "just keep on coming"

"If someone builds an extension to their home that is different from the original plans, the council takes enforcement action." "

By Kelly Fenna

THE CONTROVERSIAL mobile phone mast saga has unravelled yet more blunders after a new Moreton telecommunications pole was found to be taller than planned and in the wrong spot.

The T-Mobile mast, installed on Hoylake Road last month, is bigger and in the incorrect position according to planning officers - alerted to the hiccup by ward councillor Chris Blakeley.

The mast's cabinet equipment also exceeds the original measurements and is in breach of planning regulations.


Officers have now been forced to admit that installation is inaccurate and that there are "discrepancies in the dimensions."

"This is unbelievable," said Cllr Blakeley.

"After all that has happened with this mast, you would think T-Mobile would have learned their lesson."

Last month the Globe revealed how hordes of residents and Cllr Blakeley staged a peaceful protest at the site when engineers begun their work.

But the group were threatened with arrest for breach of the peace and were told by police that they were obstructing the public highway.

If someone builds an extension to their home that is different from the original plans, the council takes enforcement action. The same action must be taken against T-Mobile
Cllr Chris Blakeley
Cllr Blakeley added: "T-Mobile had the nerve to call the police when we organised a peaceful protest and now we find they are the ones breaking the law by installing a mast and equipment that they don't have permission for.

"If someone builds an extension to their home that is different from the original plans, the council takes enforcement action. The same action must be taken against T-Mobile."

The mobile phone mast blunder began earlier this year when two separate planning committees refused applications for masts in Moreton, Heswall, Claughton and Pensby.

But the council forgot to send out the decision noticed within the 56-day time limit and did not realise until the company sent them an email to say they had won deemed consent.

An independent investigation is now under way.

In an email to Cllr Blakeley from council enforcement officer Steve Lacey, it is confirmed that the Moreton mast and cabinets are 1.2m to the right of its approved position.

And the height of the mast stands at 14.93m as opposed to the 14.7m stated in the original plans.

In his email, Mr Lacey said: "A letter will be sent to the applicants raising these points and requesting an explanation as to why there are discrepancies.

"Once we have received T-Mobile's response, the information will be presented to the planning committee with our recommendation."

A spokesman for T-Mobile (UK) Ltd said: "Although the company fully respects Cllr Blakeley's sincerity in raising this matter as the local elected member, T-Mobile does in fact dispute the circumstances in this case and is confident that our mast, which is of a standard 14.7 metres pre-fabricated design, is compliant with the law and our original planning submission.

"We look forward to being able to clarify these matters with Wirral Council officers in writing. We feel confident that this will resolve the matter."


9:36am Wednesday 10th October 2007

U-turn gives victory to anti-mast campaigners

11 October 2007

Ben McPartland

CAMPAIGNERS in West Hampstead are calling a victory in the battle against mobile phone masts.

Residents and traders in Iverson Road are celebrating after a business pulled out of a deal to put up a mobile phone mast.

Bosses at Iverson Tyres say their surprise decision - which came as the foundations were being dug for the O2 mast - was taken because they do not want to anger loyal customers.

Managing director David Gardner said: "We had overlooked the tremendous support that the local community has shown us over the years and feel it is important to show our support in return.

"We have a very strong customer base in the immediate vicinity going back 15 years.

"The community, our customers of all generations, have consistently advertised on our behalf the excellent service that we provide and we are grateful to them for that."

Tensions on Iverson Road have been fraught ever since residents found out the O2 company wanted to install the 15metre mast on their doorsteps.

In June scuffles broke out in Iverson Tyres' offices when protestors tried to deliver a 250 signature petition to Mr Gardner.

The group claimed the mast would be a blot on the landscape. And there were also health concerns over increased radiation levels.

O2 would have been the third telecom giant to have a mast on the street after Vodafone and Orange.

Resident Steven Jones said: "This is a message of hope for all those who think that just because the council has given planning permission that there is no point in carrying on with a campaign.

"Local people continued their battle to present David Gardner with their views and here you have the result. We applaud Mr Gardner for heeding our views and thank him for showing this consideration for our community."

Another protestor Roger Tavener, owner of C Tavener & Son builders withdrew his business from Iverson Tyres when he heard news of the planned mast.

He said: "If this is official then we will end the boycott and continue to use Iverson Tyres. We were a good customer to them. I am very happy to hear the news."

But O2, which was shocked to hear of the turnaround, has promised not to give up.

Spokesman James Stevenson said: "We will go and see them and find out the reason why they have backed out on the agreement.

"We will try to talk to them about how safe the mobile phone stations are and how they cause no health and safety problems for residents. They had already started putting it in."