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EMF Studies

05 February 2016

Swisscom: Research on Health and Environment

We came across an interesting document on wireless communication published by Swisscom in 2015. Here is the excerpt on research on health and environment (translation summary by the Editor of "Towards Better Health"):  What did the document leave out?  Its patent, for one (extracts of the Swisscom patent submission follow this text).

Research on Health and Environment
2015 Swisscom document

Is wireless communication harmful to health? ... Every serious researcher must recognize that it is impossible to give a definitive answer to this question. But now we have extensive scientific knowledge on this subject. The effects of EMF on organisms have been studied for decades and more than 20,000 studies have been published. Among them, more than 1,000 were exclusively devoted to the effects generated by wireless communication signals (the purpose being to prove the assumed existence of non-thermal effects). What do scientists say today? Is there scientific consensus? What are we certain about? "Given the very weak levels of exposure and results of current research today, there is no convincing scientific evidence that the weak RF signals from base stations and wireless networks cause adverse health effects."(summary of WHO fact sheet no. 304.)

Many groups of experts, including the Swiss Federal Office for the Environment, share this opinion. The voices which are raised against wireless communication reproach WHO for its "proximity to the industry". Greater uncertainty exists concerning mobile phone use. Scientists are now actively addressing the issue of whether or not intensive use of mobile phones over years could increase the risk of developing a brain tumor. In fact, the emission generated by a cell phone, which emits radiation directly at the body, is far higher than that emitted by fixed antennas. What can one do? All users of cell phones who wish to protect themselves as a precaution should use hands-free kits (headsets) for long conversations and ensure good reception.

"Globally, research from PNR 57 has not brought to light new alarming facts calling for an immediate reaction from the authorities." (report of Swiss national research program)

"After looking in depth at 123 scientific studies published between February 2011 and January 2012, experts unanimously arrived at the conclusion that, according to the current state of scientific knowledge, wireless communication does not present any danger to human health, as long as the limit values are respected." (Austrian scientific consultative committee for radiocommuniations)

"Swiss Doctors for the Protection of the Environment (MfE) is concerned that the limit values in place do not sufficiently protect the Swiss population, in particular sensitive groups like children and pregnant women". (MfE)

"The level of exposure to fixed emitting installations is generally low, which is encouraging, and at this level, no health impact has been scientifically brought to light." Consequently, an adjustment of limit values of emissions set by the ordinance on protection against non-ionizing radiation is not necessary. (Report of Swiss Office of the Environment)

Document in French:

2004 Patent application from Swisscom to reduce WiFi "electrosmog"

The influence of electrosmog on the human body is a known problem. The health risk from mobile radio transmitters, handys and DECT telephones has been an explosive subject among the general public at least since the enormous breakthrough in mobile radio technology in the 1990s. To meet the concerns of science from the legislative side, the permissible limit values have thus been lowered several times, and technology has been increasingly focused on this problem. The risk of damage to health through electrosmog has also become better understood as a result of more recent and improved studies. When, for example, human blood cells are irradiated with electromagnetic fields, clear damage to hereditary material has been demonstrated and there have been indications of an increased cancer risk (Mashevich M., Folkman D., Kesar A., Barbul A., Korenstein R., Jerby E., Avivi L., Department of Human Genetics and Molecular Medicine, Tel-Aviv University, Tel-Aviv, Israel, "Exposure of human peripheral blood lymphocytes to electromagnetic fields associated with cellular phones leads to chromosomal instability," Bioelectromagnetics, 2003 Feb., 24(2): 82-90

...Thus it has been possible to show that mobile radio radiation can cause damage to genetic material, in particular in human white blood cells, whereby both the DNA itself is damaged and the number of chromosomes changed. This mutation can consequently lead to increased cancer risk. In particular, it could also be shown that this destruction is not dependent upon temperature increases, i.e. is non-thermal...

...Despite increasingly strict national guidelines with respect to legally specified limits, the impact of electrosmog in WLANs on the human body can be considerable. Moreover it is to be expected that this impact will continue to increase in the future for many people. Two factors in particular are playing a role in this: First, more and more applications require additional, usually higher-energy frequency bands in order to be able to meet the growing need with respect to transmission rate. Second, the need for WLAN expansion in the private sphere as well as in the public sphere, e.g. in airports, railway stations, trains, restaurants, exhibition halls, etc., has by far not yet reached its peak. 

With the state of the art as a basis, there has been a lot of effort put into providing evidence for the detrimental effects of electrosmog and setting corresponding limits. Limits and guidelines alone will not suffice, however, to further contain the electrosmog in WLANs since the development in WLANs runs in exactly the opposite direction, as mentioned above. WLANs even represent zones in which people usually spend longer periods of time (place of work, Internet, network games, etc.) and are therefore to be considered as particularly problematic with respect to radiation impact. 

WLANs in the state of the art moreover send base stations, such as access points, so-called beacon signals periodically so that mobile units can recognize the network and authenticate themselves with an access point. These beacon signals comprise recognition signals, such as e.g. SSIDs and/or other radio frequency signals with control parameters. Even if no mobile units are located in the WLAN, the beacon signals continue to be transmitted periodically to the APs. This means that even when the WLAN is not being used at all, an underlying stress from electromagnetic radiation remains for persons in the Basic Service Area of an access point of the WLAN. For example, in the case of WLANs at places of employment, such as offices, etc., there exists therefore permanent stress from electrosmog from the WLAN on the employees of the company or organization. In the state of the art there exists only the possibility of further reducing the limits for electromagnetic radiation...


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