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

29 July 2016

Switzerland: Awareness of Health Risks of Wireless Technology?

Switzerland:  Awareness of Health Risks of Wireless Technology?
by Meris Michaels, 29 July 2016

Awareness of the health risks of wireless technology in French-speaking Switzerland ("Suisse Romande") is at best poor, worse - almost non-existent.  There are only a few doctors diagnosing and treating electrosensitivity, although physicians practicing holistic or integrative medicine may be doing so.  Such doctors are rare and cannot take on new patients. There seems to be an unhealthy collusion among doctors to ignore this issue, either out of ignorance, because wireless is everywhere in their offices and in hospitals and clinics, medical education does not include emerging environmental illnesses in its curriculum, and/or they are scared to go against the powerful telecoms industry which is a vital part of the Swiss economy.

We doubt that "Suisse Romande" has ever heard of the environmental medicine counselling structure for electrohypersensitive persons established by the Society of Doctors for the Environment.  One health insurance company promotes mobile phone subscriptions for families, including young children.  Confronted by an advocacy group for safer wireless, they replied by asking for the names of the group's committee members and saying, the group's description of risks was "alarmist".  A major department store sells babyphones for very young children.  The group drew attention to health risks and to the harmful exposure of factory workers in China producing these and received a defensive reply.  Others, who have written to the health and disability insurance authorities, have received unsatisfactory replies.  And yet, the health warnings are there on the sites of the federal government, the Cancer League, and in manuals for mobile phones, virtual reality headsets, smart watches, etc.

The safer wireless group has written to a pediatricians' group and medical center in Geneva, mentioning the health risks of wireless technology, only to be blatantly ignored.  This - and even worse actions such as the U.S. Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) going forward with 5G (despite a flood of letters from researchers, physicians, advocates warning of health risks) are no better than the cowardly murderous acts committed by terrorists:  taking an ax to persons or slitting the throat of an 86-year-old priest or the slaughter in Nice which also took the lives of children.  Only, the murder being committed by the authorities from exposing people to wireless technology is slower, subtler, but much more widespread.  Here too children are innocent victims.

Is there intent to harm as in the case of terrorism?  One could say that the intent lies in greed for ever more profits, including that of the medico-pharmaceutical complex which would gain from treatment of the increasing numbers of sick persons suffering from exposure to wireless technology.  Perhaps there is a far more sinister conspiracy, like population reduction.  This raises ethical and responsibility issues.  But it seems to be a concept of the Swiss authorities that responsibility for health lies with the individual, not the State.  "Authorities" such as the Chairman of the FCC and all the other persons (researchers, physicians, industry heads) who are covering up the reality of the risk of wireless technologies should be condemned before a criminal court and given long prison sentences, as was the case recently of the head of Olivetti who was given a five-year prison sentence for his responsibility in the deaths of 20 factory employees from exposure to asbestos.

Wireless technology is promoted everywhere.  In Geneva alone, there are 1,500 mobile phone antennas and 568 Wi-Fi "hotspots" in public places.  This allows the authorities to gather personal information from users.  A former Geneva mayor, whose policy was to place Wi-Fi in public places, and who is now head of police, was one of two Swiss to attend a recent Bilderberg Summit where emphasis was on security.  The only places we have found which do not have Wi-Fi are the premises of the Geneva Cancer League, a few doctors' offices, and the Swiss navigation company which has no Wi-Fi on its vessels plying the Swiss lakes (more for enjoyment of the scenery than for health reasons).  Nearly every second person on the street is walking along, staring at their smartphone or holding it to their ear.  In public transport, nearly every person is either texting, surfing, or calling.  Wi-Fi is being installed on Swiss trains and Swiss International Airlines long-distance flights.  It is not yet widespread in public schools but is common in private schools.  Some cantons, like Neuchâtel, have laws restricting its installation in nurseries and primary schools.

Everyone is enthralled with or addicted to their wireless "toys".  The newspapers, whose revenue depends on advertising, hesitate to publish articles on health risks but they are favorable to opinion pieces on the subject.  News articles more often promote devices and apps, inciting people to purchase them.

We do not see increasing awareness any time soon.  The Swiss Parliament's Council of States will probably approve raising of limit values of mobile phone antennas in the fall.  And yet, in June, nearly half of the 200 members of the Parliament's National Council voted against this motion and almost as many voted against easing regulations for installation of mobile phone antennas.   Proportionally, more women than men voted against. The Council of States, however, is comprised of a majority of deputies (34 of 46) belonging to parties which voted in favor.  Lower limit values would be bad for the economy, those in favor say, however we know the real reason is catering to consumer demands for better connectivity and paving the way for 5G (already being tested in Switzerland).  In any case, limit values apply only to fixed installations. For mobile phones, wireless routers or other mobile sources of non-ionizing radiation, there are no legal limits.

Various motions, such as a study on electro-hypersensitivity, have been voted down.  The government has talked of launching a monitoring system costing 7 million Swiss francs [7.22 million dollars] to obtain information on exposure of the population to non-ionizing radiation.  The project would comprise:  measurement of EMF levels including in habitations and levels of mobile phone and broadcasting antennas, high power transmission lines, electric sub-stations and railroad contact lines, and studies on users' exposure to devices emitting EMF close to the body.  lt is feared that the rules established for measurement will be formulated in favor of the government and industry.

The recently published EUROPAEM EMF Guideline 2016 for the Prevention, Diagnosis and Treatment of EMF-Related Problems and Illnesses mentions several studies undertaken in Switzerland regarding health problems attributed to EMF Exposure.  The population - and most physicians - are unaware of these studies.

"In a questionnaire survey in Switzerland in 2001, which was addressed to persons attributing specific health problems to EMF exposure, of the 394 respondents 58% suffered from sleep problems or disorders, 41% from headaches, 19% from nervousness, 18% from fatigue, and 16% from difficulties with concentration. The respondents attributed their symptoms to, e.g. mobile phone base stations (74%), mobile phones (36%), cordless phones (29%), and highvoltage power lines (27%). Two thirds of the respondents had taken measures to reduce their symptoms, the most frequent one being to avoid exposure (191).

"In 2001, 63 persons who attributed health problems to environmental exposure were counseled in an interdisciplinary environmental medicine pilot project in Basel. An interdisciplinary expert team assessed the individual symptoms by a medical psychological-psychiatric and environmental examination, including visits and environmental measurements at home. With respect to the 25 persons with EHS, the expert team attested to the fact that in one third of them at least one symptom was plausibly related to electrosmog, although the EMF exposure was within the Swiss limits. They concluded that patients with EHS should be advised medically, psychologically, and environmentally (192, 193).

"A representative telephone survey (n = 2048; age > 14 years) carried out in Switzerland in 2004 yielded a frequency of 5% (95% CI 4% to 6%) for having symptoms attributed to electrosmog, so-called EHS. In n = 107 EHS persons, the most common symptoms being sleep problems (43%), headache (34%), and concentration difficulties (10%). Remarkably, only 13% consulted their family doctor. Individuals with a past history of symptoms attributable to EMF gave “turned off the source” as the answer to measures taken three times as often as the ones who still had symptoms (195).

"In a Swiss questionnaire study of GPs in 2005, twothirds of the doctors were consulted at least once a year because of symptoms attributed to EMF. Fifty-four percent of the doctors assessed a relation as possible. The doctors in this questionnaire asked for more general information about EMF and health and instructions on how to deal with patients with EHS (196).

"In another questionnaire study, also mandated by the Swiss Federal Government and performed by the University of Bern in 2004, Swiss doctors working with complementary diagnostic and therapeutic tools reported that 71% of their consultations related to EMF. Remarkably, not only the patients but even more so the doctors suspected a possible relation between illness and EMF. The reduction or elimination of environmental sources was the main therapeutic instrument in treating symptoms related to EMF (197)."

There are also several paragraphs discussing therapeutic approaches to electrohypersensitivity in Switzerland.

"There are only a few studies assessing therapeutic approaches to EHS. The interdisciplinary based assessing and counseling of EHS in the Swiss Environmental Pilot Project performed in 2001 showed, in an evaluation interview half a year after counseling, that 45% of the persons with EHS had benefitted from realizing certain advice, e.g. changing the bedroom (192, 193).

"In the 2005 Swiss questionnaire study of physicians working with complementary therapeutic tools, two-thirds chose exposure reduction as a principal tool, whereas complementary therapeutics were only chosen as a supplement (197).

"Since 2008, the Swiss Society of Doctors for the Environment has run a small interdisciplinary environmental medicine counseling structure for patients with EHS, which is embedded in everyday practice with a central coordination and consultation office as well as a network of general practitioners interested in environmental medicine who perform environmental medical assessments and consultations based on a standard protocol. If necessary, environmental experts are consulted and home inspections are conducted. The aim of the assessments is to detect or rule out common diseases and to analyze the impact of suspected environmental burdens on the complaints in order to find individual therapeutic approaches. The main instrument of the assessment is an extensive medical and psycho-social history with an additional environmental history, including a systematic questionnaire and environmental key questions."

Measures must be taken worldwide to protect people from exposure to non-ionizing radiation emitted by wireless technology, especially children who are more vulnerable.  If this is not done, we will see increasing numbers of those afflicted with diseases and spiraling costs in terms of medical care and loss of productivity.

by Meris Michaels

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