Raise awareness of environmental health issues in order to better protect our children and future generations.

02 July 2011

"Fallout" - Non-Ionizing Radiation

We are experiencing "fallout" from the non-ionizing radiation emitted by wireless devices and the recent IARC/WHO declaration that cell phones are "possibly caricinogenic".

Recently, I wrote to the two senators from New York State, Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, requesting them to consider more protective measures for children concerning radiation emitted by cell phones and other wireless devices.  Senator Gillibrand is a mother with two young children, one of whom suffers from asthma.  It seems that one of the only reactions from the US Congress to the WHO declaration that cell phones are “possibly carcinogenic” was to request the Government Accountability Office to investigate what research is needed concerning cell phone safety.  For a state which is requesting lifting of the moratorium on “fracking” (extraction of natural gas from shale by a highly polluting operation), my letter will most likely fall on deaf ears.

I also wrote a similar letter to two Swiss deputies in the Conseil national (lower house of Parliament), Christian van Singer and Yvonne Gilli.  One is a physicist, also active in the anti-nuclear movement, who introduced an initiative concerning electrosmog in 2010, including banning the installation of antennas near nurseries, schools and other sensitive places.  This was voted down, 117 to 61.  The other Deputy is the mother of three children and a medical doctor.  So far – silence.  I doubt I will hear from either of them since the Swiss Government owns a majority of shares in Switzerland’s main telecoms company, Swisscom.

The Head of the Pediatrics Department at Geneva Univiersity’s Children’s Hospital has not yet replied to my letter concerning the existence of Wi-Fi in patients’ rooms.  It is aberrant that a technology which presents health risks has been installed in a place of healing for patients’ “comfort”.
The one victory is the publishing of an article, “Flee the dangers of the telephone” in the most recent issue of a popular Swiss consumer magazine, “Bon à Savoir”, whose readership numbers 410,000.  The article gives advice on reducing the risk of radiation from cell phone use.

The authorities are playing down the implications of the WHO declaration, which could mean a spate of litigation, for one.  I recall the stock market falling rather sharply the day after the WHO declaration, explained away in the United States as the poor state of the economy.  Then, an article appeared in a business magazine which said that telecoms companies’ stock prices have fallen 10% in the past several weeks.  The article warned these companies to follow more closely the latest medical research on the health effects of cell phones and start thinking about mitigating the risks.

Other recent “fallout” includes:
-     -    President Obama’s economic stimulus package contains plans for installing the “Smart Grid” across the United States:  Wi-Fi-enabled digital power meters ("smart meters").  These emit harmful electromagnetic radiation.  People are being arrested, protesting installation in their homes.  Where is freedom of choice?  Freedom to protect our health?

-    The United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC) revised its online advice to consumers about cell phone safety in September 2010.  It replaced the wording, "some parties" recommend taking precautions such as buying cell phones that release less radiation, with a statement that differences in cell phones' emission levels have no bearing on health concerns. 

-     In late June, 500 social groups in Spain signed a manifesto urging politicians to take action against electromagnetic pollution, including elimination of Wi-Fi in schools, malls, hotels, parks and other public areas.

-     A Rhode Island member of the EMF advocacy group, Citizens for a Safer Technology, raised the issue of children being exposed to electromagnetic radiation:  “How many of our children are unnecessarily on Ritalin because they can’t concentrate because of neurological disruption caused by radiation exposure?  How much money is being spent by special-education departments …to deal with the growing numbers of children who have behavioral disorders, ADHD, learning problems and other health issues that impair learning, symptoms that are actually being caused by radiation?”
Who will listen?  Who cares about our children’s health?  Pension funds, which invest heavily in telecoms companies and generating jobs are more important than ensuring our children’s safety.  Sign petitions to the United States Congress regarding EM safety, which includes ones on Wi-Fi in schools and Smart Meters (http://www.thepeoplesinitiative.org///).


WHO denial: According to Fact Sheet no.193, issued by the World Health Organization (WHO) in June 2011, after its declaration that mobile phone use is possibly carcinogenic to humans, "no adverse health effects have been established as being caused by mobile phone use". It further states, "while an increased risk of brain tumors is not established, the increasing use of mobile phones and lack of data for mobile phone use over time periods longer than 15 years warrant further research of mobile phone use and brain cancer risk." Always, "further research is warranted". Will we have to wait 20 or 30 more years as we did for establishment of the adverse health effects of tobacco, before there is proof of the dangers of mobile phone use and other wireless technology?  

Letter to United States Senators, New York State – June 20, 2011
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand
Similar letter to Senator Charles Schumer

"Following the World Health Organization declaration stating that mobile phones are “possibly carcinogenic”, House Energy and Commerce ranking member Henry Waxman and Representatives Edward Markey and Anna Eshoo have asked the Government Accountability Office to investigate what research is needed concerning the safety of mobile phone use.

"Knowing you are committed to environmental health issues especially as concerns children, I would like to share with you my views regarding this proposal.

"Hundreds of credible studies by independent scientists already exist, which show the harmful biological effects of cell phones and electromagnetic radiation. The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe has recently adopted a resolution on the "potential danger of electromagnetic fields" which recommends restrictions on the use of cell phones and Wi-Fi in schools in all 47 European Member States.

"Certain states are already considering or adopting legislation concerning mobile phones. Pennsylvania has recently introduced the “Children’s Wireless Protection Act” the purpose of which is to “inform all citizens about possible health dangers that have been linked to microwave radiation that is emitted by cellular telephones and the steps that can be taken to mitigate those dangers, especially as they relate to children and pregnant women.” The Act further states, “independent public health experts, (concerned about the effects on children, fetuses and the reproductive capacities of men and women) advise that an unprecedented public health threat to the millions of cellular telephone users in Pennsylvania exists because of exposure to electromagnetic radiation that can be emitted by cellular telephones”.

"More protective measures, beyond clear warning labels on mobile phones, are required in the United States, especially for children who are more vulnerable than adults to the radiation emitted by mobile phones and other wireless devices.

"We cannot continue to ignore this serious public health threat. More and more persons are becoming sensitive to electromagnetic radiation, especially children. We cannot await further studies. Too often, this is a way of putting off a decision regarding implementation of regulatory measures concerning this technology.

"Many Americans share what I write here and would support a national congressional action which goes beyond conducting more research. We need to protect those persons who are most vulnerable to the harmfulness of electromagnetic radiation and not wait five or ten years when we may be faced with a serious and costly public health problem."

by Meris Michaels

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