Important review of the biological effects for those living near antennas
November 5, 2010.
by Dr. Magda Havas, BSc, PhD
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 scientists, 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 Assembly 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.
Dr. Henry Lai
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.
The mobile phone studies are showing an increased risk of both benign and malignant tumors on the same side of your head that you hold to the cell (or cordless) phone appearing after 10 years of moderate use.
The cell phone antenna studies are showing that people who live within 400 meters of these antennas experience an increased risk of cancer and symptoms associated with electrical hypersensitivity. According to Levitt and Lai their review includes “Both anecdotal reports and some epidemiology studies have found headaches, skin rashes, sleep disturbances, depression, decreased libido, increased rates of suicide, concentration problems, dizziness, memory changes, increased risk of cancer, tremors, and other neurophysiological effects in populations near base stations.” These symptoms decrease or disappear when the transmitters are turned off (for repair), when people shield their homes from the radiation, or when they leave their immediate environment and are not exposed to this radiation.
Whether the issue is WiFi in schools, cell phone use, or living near cell phones antennas . . . in all cases people are exposed to microwave radiation. This radiation is similar to what is emitted by microwave ovens. The major difference is that the radiation in the microwave oven is supposed to be contained whereas the radiation from all these other devices is not contained. Indeed it if were contained the devices would not work.
What happens if you put metal into a microwave oven? It sparks as it reflects the microwave radiation. The same thing happens in your home. Metal objects reflect this radiation and can produce a hotspot.
So the classroom with the WiFi base station and the bedroom with the cell phone antenna nearby become the microwave ovens with the radiation set on low power.
In years to come we will marvel at our stupidity for holding microwave transmitters to our head and installing WiFi base stations in kindergartens and elementary classrooms and placing laptop computers on our lap connecting wirelessly to the internet. Just as we marvel at using X-rays to fit children’s shoes, or allowing baby power containing asbestos to be sold, or spraying DDT from airplanes over both urban and rural communities with children playing outside we will marvel at our stupidity for using microwave radiation in such a frivolous manner for such a minor convenience.
Levitt and Lai correctly state that “Non-ionizing electromagnetic fields are among the fastest growing forms of environmental pollution.” Non-ionizing electromagnetic fields refers to microwaves (WiFi, Wi-Max, mobile phones and mobile phone antennas, as well as radar and other wireless devices that emit between 300 MHz and 300 GHz), radio frequency radiation generated by radio and television broadcast antennas (1 kHz to 300 MHz) and extremely low frequency radiation (below 1 kHz) from electrical wires and appliances.
Despite this we have virtually no research funding to study the effects of this radiation in North America, in part, because Health Canada and the Federal Communication Commission have established guidelines based on a thermal effect with the flawed assumption that the ONLY effect is one of heating despite thousands of scientific documents reporting biological and health effects at levels thousands of times below these thermal guidelines!
So we now have a Canadian NRC journal publishing this important paper on the biological effects of living near antennas; we have a Private Member’s Bill in front of the Ontario Legislative Assemble asking that cell phones carry a warning label; we have HESA Committee hearings on this topic with the first in April 27 and 29, 2010 and the most recent hearing October 28, 2010; we have mayors in several communities across Canada asking that May be identified as the ElectroHyperSensitivity Awareness Month; and we have major media CBC, Global TV, as well as radio stations, newspapers, and magazines across the country covering this important topic. Our recent paper on how radiation from a cordless phone affects the heart just came out last week in a book called “Non-thermal Effects and Mechanisms of Interaction between Electromagnetic Fields and Living Matter” (more on that soon).
What more will it take for Health Canada to admit there is a problem and that the current guidelines we have do not protect the public? How many children will have to die before Health Canada and the Medical Officer of Health in Ontario and in other provinces will admit they are wrong!
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