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EMF Studies

25 October 2015

Switzerland: Summary of RTS Radio Program on the Consequences of Exposure to Electromagnetic Waves

 Switzerland: Summary of RTS Radio Program on the consequences of exposure to electromagnetic waves 
(Summary by the Editor of "Towards Better Health")

Within the context of its program "Vacarme", RTS la Première proposed a series of six radio programs on the consequences of exposure to electromagnetic radiation.

The first five programs were broadcast from Monday 19 October to Friday 23 October, from 13.00 to 13.30.

On Sunday, 25 October, from 9 to 10 am, in "echos of Vacarme", Pierre Dubochet, member of ARA, Association romande alerte aux ondes électromagnétiques) and author of the article, "The Effects of Electromagnetic Fields on Man", along with Pierre Zweiacker, physicist at EPFL, commented on extracts from the program and messages from listeners.

Rebroadcasts may be accessed through the above links.

Planned high voltage power line near school in Grône

Construction of the high voltage power line running 125 km, comprising 72 pylons - has been planned since 1986 and was approved by the Federal Council in 2011. Families are protesting the 27.5 km Chamoson-Chippis segment which would come within 70 meters of the village school.  The company constructing the line, Swiss Grid, is not listening to the families' concerns about health. Swiss Grid argues that the electricity is very important for the industries in that part of the Valais. They say they cannot bury it, as the families are requesting. In September, a meeting attended by 200 persons was held on this issue. Dr.Nathalie Calame, who receives electrohypersensitive patients, explained the repercussions of electromagnetic radiation on health. The families are more confident in a physician who says there are health dangers than in a bureaucrat who says that the plans respect health norms. Of the 700 km. of powerlines in Switzerland, only 36 km. have been place underground.  

EMF studies

Juan Mosig, Director of EPFL's Electromagnetic and Acoustics Laboratory, was interviewed. Everyone has a cell phone, humanity is not disappearing because everyone has one. Persons from the Federal Office for Public Health (OFSP) and the Federal Office of the Environment (OFEV) spoke, mentioning thermal, but not biological effects, except to cite the IARC/WHO classification of EMF as "possibly carcinogenic to humans". The mobile network is currently saturated. People want to watch films on their cell phones. Is there something other than the thermal effect? Nothing conclusive. Certain studies lead one to believe there is a risk of brain tumors, others not. The example of the microwave oven is cited - do these alter the chemistry of food? Apart from heating, no. Wait another generation to see if problems develop. 

 EHS is discussed and acknowledged. The OFSP says there is not enough energy emitted to mutate DNA. Both OFSP and ICNIRP have established accepted thresholds. Is there risk of chronic exposure?  A study on rats is cited, but this cannot be transposed to humans. We don't know the long-term effects. An expert from Swisscom says the telecoms company gives advice to people on limiting exposure. To paraphrase, we take into account the anxiety of our clients who fear harm from waves. Science can never prove absence of risk...

[We were disappointed in this particular segment of the broadcast - no one mentioned the hundreds of studies showing health or biological effects.]

Odlie, electrosensitive

Odile and her family live between two antennas, each about 300 meters from their habitation. Curtains made of metallic fiber cover the windows. The same material has been placed beneath the matresses to shield the family from the Wi-Fi of the neighbors living below, who have refused to switch off their Wi-Fi at night.  Everything in their home is wired - no Wi-Fi, no cell phones, no cordless DECT phones. She mentions that all printers sold today have Wi-Fi and one has to go into the computer to switch it off.

Odile has been working for a telecoms company in administration for 15 years. When Wi-Fi was installed about 8 years ago, she suffered burn-out, diagnosed by her doctor. When she consulted an osteopath, he told her she was being completely aggressed by the cumulative exposure of EM waves: great fatigue, soreness in her back and neck, inner tension. Were there others at work who suffered? No one would talk about it. Now she is working in a protected space in Human Resources where the precautionary principle has been applied: no Wi-Fi, all wired connections.

She advises not exposing children to EM radiation. "They" are hiding a lot of things, she says. It's an issue of money. Her 5-year-old daughter attends preschool where there were Wi-Fi routers above the children's heads in the classrooms. She succeeded in changing this to having Wi-Fi only in the corridors. She was told that cables were too expensive. Tablets can only be connected to the Internet via Wi-Fi. There are regulations in canton Vaud where she lives for placement of antennas near schools but not for Wi-Fi in schools. Neuchâtel has such regulations for limiting Wi-Fi. The Director of her daughter's school was receptive to her demands, especially after she mentioned the issue of data security. She talked to the school nurse, who said that it was the first time in 10 years that someone had mentioned the risks of EM radiation. Odile says the number and strength of mobile devices is increasing. We must inform people in order to apply the precautionary principle. The problem with white zones is that people have to isolate themselves from society. It is like being placed in quarantine.

Odile doesn't take the train or car and can stand no more than about an hour in a shopping center. She has begun to learn where the Wi-Fi is and avoids these places. She finds walking along the lake and especially, in the forest, a great relief from exposure.

Norms cannot be set just for a few electrohypersensitive persons. We should call a halt to this continual increase in the number and strength of devices in order to stand back and take a good look at what this is doing to us.

Wi-Fi in schools

Teachers at the Blaise-Cendrars High School in la Chaux-de-Fonds voted not to have Wi-Fi installed in the school, applying the precautionary principle. The two teachers who were asked to prepare files, one in favor of Wi-Fi, the other against Wi-Fi, were interviewed. One said they had all they needed at the school to teach. Was Wi-Fi dangerous? Would it distract students from learning? After presentation of the files to the teachers, installation of Wi-Fi was put to a vote. The results: 13 in favor, 24 against, 19 abstentions. Wi-Fi had been foreseen for the school, the installation of antennas begun, but teachers reacted. Students at the school seemed to accept the decision and some even commented on the health concerns. This was the first generation to have the technology, and the long-term consequences were unknown. Wi-Fi may be harmful but there are things that are more harmful, like medications that are not adequately tested. We're less informed of the dangers of EM radiation. One student commented that smoking is an individual choice whereas Wi-Fi is continuous, everywhere, used by everyone - and thus, more of a concern.

Recent recognition of existence of a serious handicap due to electrohypersensitivity (EHS) to EM waves in France

EHS is not recognized in France or Switzerland. For most physicians, it does not exist. Etienne Cendrier, spokesperson for the French association, Robin des Toits, was interviewed, who explained the difference between natural and artificial EM waves and detailed the health effects, calling exposure to these waves "a slow electrocution". If you want to remain in good health, use wired connections. He is not against this technology, but we should use it as a tool, not continuously. We should at least be informed of the risks. He mentioned insurance companies. such as Lloyds which decided in 2010 not to cover EM risks. Pregnant women and very young children should not be exposed to EM waves. Unlike asbestos, where specific diseases (mesothelioma, asbestose) have been linked to exposure, we cannot say this about cancers being caused from exposure to EMF. There exists, however, much proof that EMF is dangerous to health. There is a study being undertaken in Europe on brain tumor risk for children exposed to EMF, in part being financed by the telecoms company, Orange. The telecoms lobby is extremely powerful.

Regarding the French court case, the EHS person suffered pain in her head, heart problems, neurological disorders. She consulted Dr. Dominique Belpomme, who diagnosed a syndrome of intolerance to EM waves. She had to leave work, home, friends and live isolated in an area free of waves. The case came about when she simply asked the disability department in Ariège for a disability allowance. She contested the department's refusal before the courts and won. Many EHS persons, weakened by their suffering, isolated geographically and socially, and without work, have no energy to contest.


The last day's emission consisted of calls from listeners and comments on the program. No one from OFEV or an occupational physician consented to appear. The two moderators were Pierre Zweiacker, a physicist at EPFL, and Pierre Dubochet, a radio engineer, member of ARA, and the person aiding the families in Grône.

A number of persons mentioned the fact that the cumulative effect from exposure to EM waves could be harmful.  Zweiacker said that certain physical factors or chemical substances, for example food additives, could render persons more sensitive to waves.  People tend to attribute their ills such as headaches, fatigue, memory loss, to factors other than waves.  The explosion of burnout could be caused in part by exposure to EM waves.  The greatest source of emissions comes from our own mobile devices such as cell phones because everyone keeps these switched on.

Regarding high voltage power lines, people were concerned because the fields are invisible and the line is being planned within 70 meters of the school, which in Switzerland is within the norms.  In Sweden, the norms are 200 meters from populated areas.  Switzerland cannot impose these norms because the average population density is 10 times greater than in Sweden.  A study exists which  shows that there were a certain number of cancers in people living within 50 meters of a high voltage power line. With increasing distance, the number of cases decreased.

Pierre Dubochet concluded by saying that when emission norms were established by ICNIRP (International Commission for Non-Ionizing Radio Protection), Michael Repacholi was its president and also, head of the EMF project at the World Health Organization.  When Australia was fixing the norms, Repacholi was obliged to admit before the Senate that the ICNIRP norms were not based on science, but rather, negotiated with the telecoms industry and governments.

Summary by Meris Michaels, Editor of "Towards Better Health"

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