“Of particular concern to the public – and generating the most outrage – is the involuntary subjection of certain groups of the population 24 hours/day, 7 days/week to the emissions of GSM base-stations, when they are insensitively sited near to homes, schools and hospitals. The environment of these people is permanently and unavoidably polluted. This is a totally unacceptable state of affairs, which raises serious ethical questions, and arguably contravenes the Nuremberg Code [Directives for Human Experimentation - which states that "voluntary consent of the human subject is absolutely essential"] , in that it is these people who will eventually reveal the degree to which chronic exposure to such fields is noxious – information that is not currently available: in other words, they are effectively involuntary subjects in a mass experiment.”
These are the words of Dr. Gerard Hyland, who in 2001 produced a report on the physiological and environmental effects of non-ionizing electromagnetic radiation to the European Parliament. This was 11 years ago, and we are almost no further advanced on protecting the population, especially children, from the potential risks of wireless technologies.
Following are a few extracts from Dr. Hyland’s report: policy recommendations to the European Parliament the lack of understanding of the potentially harmful health effects of cell phones and GSM base stations, the attempts by regulatory agencies to down-play risks (“there is currently an attempt under the aegis of the World Health Organisation to globally ‘harmonise’ exposure standards, by persuading countries with more stringent limits – such as Russia and China - to relax them in favour of the higher levels tolerated in the West”), and a list of non-thermal adverse health effects, including memory impairment. Remember, the report was written in 2001. Maybe I am pessimistic, but it seems we are moving further away from recognizing the dangers of mobile telephony and implementation of efforts to protect the population.
The Physiological and Environmental Effects of Non-Ionizing Electromagnetic Radiation
by Dr. Gerard Hyland, University of Warwick - U.K., and International Institute of Biophysics, Germany, published by the European Parliament Directorate General for Research, March 2001 (full report available here).
Policy options for the European Parliament
- the non-emergency prolonged use of mobile phones by children – and particularly preadolescents – be strongly discouraged, on account of their increased vulnerability to any potential adverse health effects.
- the mobile phone industry refrain from promoting prolonged use of mobile phones by children by the use of advertising tactics exploiting peer pressure and other strategies to which the young are susceptible.
- the mobile phone industry make it clear to the consumer that the specific absorption rate (SAR) - which in some countries is shortly to be declared on the handset - refers only to the degree to which the microwave emissions from the antenna can heat biological tissue, and is in no way relevant to non-thermal effects that the emissions from a mobile phone may have on the user.
- the efficacy of devices such as shields and ear-pieces:
a) be indicated on the basis of biological tests, and not solely on the reduction in SAR value (as determined by the use of a ‘phantom’ head) that their use might achieve.
b) It be made clear to the consumer that such devices afford no protection against the low frequency pulsed magnetic field from the battery of the phone.
- concerning personal protection devices claiming to boost the immunity of the user against any adverse impacts of exposure (including those from the battery magnetic field):
a) The efficacy of such devices be established by biological testing.
b) Such devices not be rejected (as has occurred in certain consumer surveys that have been published) solely on the grounds that their use does not reduce SAR, as measured using a ‘phantom’ head; for this is not what they are designed to do. Accordingly, the SAR is here a fundamentally inappropriate measure against which to assess their efficacy.
A major contemporary threat to the health of Society is man-made ‘electrosmog’. This nonionizing electromagnetic pollution of technological origin is particularly insidious, in that it escapes detection by the senses – a circumstance which tends to promote a rather cavalier attitude regarding personal protection. Yet the nature of the pollution is such that there is literally ‘nowhere to hide’. Furthermore, given the relatively short time for which humanity has been exposed to it, we have no evolutionary immunity either against any adverse effects it might directly have on our bodies or against possible interference with natural electromagnetic processes, upon which homeostasis appears to depend, for example, the Schumann resonance – a weak electromagnetic field that oscillates resonantly in the cavity between the earth’s surface and the ionosphere at frequencies close to those of human brain rhythms, isolation from which has been found to damage human health…
Since electromagnetic fields are indispensable to technology that Society is reluctant to abandon, more comprehensive protection should be developed. As explained, we are currently vulnerable to adverse health effects that might be provoked by non-thermal effects of the frequency dimension, which escapes regulation by the existing intensity-based Safety Guidelines. Unlike intensity, the frequency aspect of the problem cannot be addressed without interfering with the frequency characteristics and informational content of the aggressing field (the integrity of which must, of course, be maintained in communication technologies, such as GSM telephony). We need therefore to consider strategies that do not target the field, but rather the person being irradiated, and devise ways to provide a higher degree of immunity than at present…
There is currently much public concern over possible adverse health effects provoked by long or short term exposure to electrosmog. This concern focuses especially on overhead power lines and GSM telephony. Quite justifiably, the public remains sceptical of attempts at reassurance by government and industry, particularly given the unethical way in which they often operate symbiotically so as to promote vested interests, often under the brokerage of the regulatory bodies whose function it supposedly is to ensure that the safety of the public is not compromised by electromagnetic exposure!
Given recent experience with official duplicity over BSE/CJD – with the initial assurances of no risk and subsequent revelations of cover-ups – the public is now understandably wary of safety assurances from ‘official’ government scientific sources w.r.t. electromagnetic pollution. This scepticism is enhanced when views contrary to official perceived wisdom is, at worst silenced or, at best, studiously ignored. Public scepticism is further exacerbated by reports of research supported financially by the Mobile Phone Industry and of its attempts to ‘persuade’ those whose findings might damage market development to actually alter their results to make them more ‘market friendly’.
There is currently an attempt (under the aegis of the World Health Organisation) to globally
‘harmonise’ exposure standards, by persuading countries with more stringent limits – such as
Russia and China - to relax them in favour of the higher levels tolerated in the West. It can be no coincidence that in Russia, where the frequency-specific sensitivity of living organisms to ultra-low intensity microwave radiation was first discovered over 30 years ago, that the exposure guidelines (even if applied in theory, rather than in practice) are still 100 times more stringent than those of ICNIRP!
There is a regrettable tendency to attribute market–friendly research a greater significance, publicity and profile than non-market friendly research, which suggest the possibility of adverse health impacts…The mainstream scientific approach to assessing the harm of human exposure to electromagnetic fields is guided by an essentially linear perception, which might well be adequate to deal with thermal effects, but is inappropriate for realistic consideration of the non-thermal, frequency-specific vulnerability of the living organism to the rather coherent electromagnetic fields.
In contrast to thermal effects, non-thermal influence necessarily depends on the state of the organism when it is exposed. This of course varies not only between different individuals, but also for the same individual, depending on his/her condition at the time of exposure – i.e. such influences are inherently non-linear in nature…
In the case of the mobile phone issue, not only has there been a reluctance on the part of official bodies to grasp this non-linear ‘nettle’, but a lamentable failure to pay attention to indications of the harm to humans and animals caused by exposure to pulsed microwave fields of sub-thermal intensity that have been long available from experience with microwave installations (not least military ones) similar to those used in GSM telephony.
It is not so much that, in the haste to make this new and valuable technology available, the necessary safety research has been bypassed or compromised, but rather - and more reprehensibly - that already available indications that the technology is potentially less than safe have been, and continue to be, studiously ignored, both by the industry and by national and international regulatory bodies…
The concern of the public is thus not unfounded, and the irony of the present situation w.r.t mobile phones and base-stations is that current Safety Guidelines afford greater protection to electronic instrumentation than they do to human beings! There is a lack of expert consensus on the significance and credibility of research into biological effects of GSM-type radiation and possible adverse health reactions in susceptible people (despite many consistent, anecdotal positive reports).
It is probably true to say that if the same lack of concensus and level of concern surrounded a new drug or foodstuff, it would never be licensed. Of particular concern to the public – and generating the most outrage – is the involuntary subjection of certain groups of the population 24 hours/day, 7 days/week to the emissions of GSM base-stations, when they are insensitively sited near to homes, schools and hospitals. The environment of these people is permanently and unavoidably polluted.This is a totally unacceptable state of affairs, which raises serious ethical questions, and arguably contravenes the Nuremberg Code, in that it is these people who will eventually reveal the degree to which chronic exposure to such fields is noxious – information that is not currently available: in other words, they are effectively involuntary subjects in a mass experiment.
From Non-thermal Effects to Adverse Health Effects
The hypersensitivity of the alive human organism to ultra-weak microwave radiation is reflected in the ways in which this kind of radiation has been found to affect a wide variety of brain functions… such as electrical activity (EEG), electrochemistry and the permeability of the blood/brain barrier and to degrade the immune system. Although these effects do not necessarily entail adverse health consequences, there is an undeniable consistency between some of these non-thermal influences and the nature of many of the health problems reported, such as headache, sleep disruption, impairment of short term memory, and, more seriously, significant increases in the frequency of seizures in some epileptic children when exposed to base-station radiation, and of brain tumours amongst users of mobile phones; it must, however, be admitted that precisely how these influences actually provoke adverse health reactions is at present unclear. Thus, the reports of:
a) Headaches are consistent with the fact that microwaves are known to non-thermally affect the dopamine–opiate system of the brain36 and to increase the permeability of the blood-brain
barrier, since both of these have been medically connected with headache.
b) Sleep disruption are consistent with the effect of GSM radiation on rapid eye movement (REM) sleep and on melatonin levels - the latter being found also epidemiologically, in the case of RF exposure.
c) Memory impairment is consistent with the finding that microwave radiation targets the hippocampus.
d) Since there is no reason to suppose that the seizure inducing ability of a flashing visible light does not extend to (invisible) microwave radiation (which can access the brain directly through the skull) flashing at a similarly low frequency, together with the fact that exposure to this kind of radiation is known to induce epileptic activity in certain animals, reports of increased seizure activity in some children that already suffer from epilepsy are perhaps not surprising.
e) The statistically significant increase in the incidence of amongst users of mobile phones in the incidence of epithelial neuroma is consistent both with the genotoxicity of low intensity microwave radiation, as indicated by the increased number of DNA strand breaks, the formation of chromosome aberrations and micronuclei in human blood, and with the promotional effect of GSM radiation in the case of transgenic mice that had been genetically engineered to have a predisposition to develop cancer.