September 26, 2011
The boss of one of the Westcountry’s leading food companies has called for more research into claims that mobile phones could cause cancer.
Brian Stein says early research is increasingly indicating the danger of excessive mobile phone use and Wi-Fi networks to some users, especially children.
Earlier this year, the World Health Organisation (WHO) classified radiation emitted by mobile phones as a possible cancer risk, with a similar threat to lead and the banned pesticide DDT.
And the European Commission also issued a warning saying that individuals should be protected from low-frequency radiation emitted by cell phones, masts and Wi-Fi systems.
Mr Stein, 62, said: “Much more research is needed.
“Meanwhile, people should be protected from this potential hazard in public places, schools and their homes.”
Mr Stein, the chief group executive of Samworth Brothers, a partner company of Tamar Foods and Gingsters
in Callington, South East Cornwall, began suffering the effects of low-frequency radiation six years ago when he experienced pain when using his mobile phone.
“I began getting weird sensations in my ear if I went near a computer or TV, any electrical equipment with a microchip” he said.
“I took the view that I was a freak and kept quiet, but it was difficult because I couldn’t drive a modern car with computers on board.”
Mr Stein’s research eventually led him to the diagnosis that he is electro-sensitive, a condition he shares with several thousand people in the UK.
Electro sensitivity is caused by the thousands of magnetic fields that surround us, from mobile and cordless phones to other wireless devices, including car sat-nav kits. The symptoms include sleep problems, headaches, tinnitus and earache, chest pains, loss of memory, poor concentration and depression.
Fellow sufferer and top DJ Steve Miller, who lives near Falmouth, says he has had to cancel lucrative gigs around the world due to the condition, including sets this year at Glastonbury and Ibiza.
Mr Miller, known to fans of club music as Afterlife, gets headaches and dizziness near Wi-Fi signals and now carries a detector grading the danger levels from one to five.
He said: “A Wi-Fi signal between one and two causes me to feel depressed and irritable, but between three and five gives me a splitting headache followed by dizziness and slight nausea.
If I walk down the main street these days I feel light-headed and can’t stop or go into any of the shops so have decided to give that part of town a wide berth.”
According to Mr Stein, who spoke at the annual conference of support group Electrosensitivity UK on Saturday, the issue is taken more seriously in Europe and other parts of the world.
In May the European Parliamentary Assembly issued a report which recommended the use of Wi-Fi be restricted in public places and schools.
It urged a precautionary
approach and a revision of the current thresholds in order not to repeat past mistakes made with asbestos, leaded petrol and tobacco.
The declaration that low-level radiation is a cancer risk was based on evidence in published studies that intensive use of mobile phones might lead to an increased risk of glioma, a malignant form of brain cancer.
Luxembourg Socialist MEP Jean Huss said the resolution “delivered a clear wake-up call” that EU member states should take precautionary measures.
The UK Health Protection Agency (HPA), while acknowledging the previous international studies, has stopped short of admitting that low-level radiation causes cancer.
An HPA spokesman said there was “no clear scientific evidence” of a cancer risk at levels below international guidelines, but admitted that “the possibility remains”.
“Given the possibility of long-term cancer effects, excessive use of mobile phones by children should be discouraged,” the spokesman added.
“Exposures from Wi-Fi are much less than from mobile phones, and well within
international guidelines, so there is no reason why schools and others should not continue to use the technology.”
Mr Stein said he was not calling for a ban on mobile phones or Wi-Fi networks, but that sensible precautions are taken, including the siting of mobile phone masts.
“In many European countries Wi-Fi is banned from schools. Children can still access wireless, but it is hard-wired into their classrooms, so they are not exposed to radiation.
“When we officially recognise that electromagnetic fields do cause cancer, then we may find a solution.”
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