New studies suggest that prenatal exposure to anti-depressants, microwaves and cellphones may lead to ADHD and autism. Anneli Rufus culls the research on the choices that impact our kids.
Pregnant? Planning to get that way? The scientific research piles up sky-high on what to do and what not to do if you want to have a healthy baby. And it’s not just a simple matter of putting down the crack pipe.
New studies link childhood problems asthma, ADHD, obesity, and developmental delays with prenatal exposure to everything from mobile phones to microwave ovens to freeways.
“So many things to which we are exposed are such an integral part of our environment already,” says Berkeley obstetrician Laura Stachel, the associate director of emergency obstetric research in West Africa for the Bixby Center for Population Health and Sustainability.
Magnetic fields, for instance. Magnetic-field exposure is typically associated with microwave ovens, power lines, vacuum cleaners, and hair dryers. The children of women who experience high exposure to magnetic fields while pregnant are three times as likely to have asthma by age 13 as are children of mothers who experience low magnetic-field exposure, according to one Kaiser Permanente study.
And the children of mothers who live within 1,000 feet of a freeway while pregnant are twice as likely to be on the autism spectrum as children of mothers who do not live near freeways, according to a University of California study.
According to a Danish study, children exposed to mobile phones while in the womb are 30 percent more likely to have ADHD by age 7 than children who were not exposed to mobile phones while in the womb.
“Exposure to cellphones prenatally and, to a lesser degree, postnatally was associated with behavioral difficulties such as emotional and hyperactivity problems around the age of school entry,” warn the study’s authors.
And you don’t have to be a farmworker to be exposed to pesticides, which researchers link with low IQ and obesity in children, among other problems. We commonly ingest pesticide residue on non-organic produce. From there it enters the blood and breast milk.
“It’s really depressing, isn’t it?” Stachel asks.
Yes, but depression itself raises risks: according to a study released this month, the children of mothers who take SSRI antidepressant medications while pregnant are twice as likely to be on the autism spectrum as are the children of mothers not on SSRIs. That’s jarring news, given another new report claiming that one in every four American women now takes SSRIs.
“Previous studies in rats born to mothers taking SSRI antidepressants showed changes in the young rodents indicating that their brains weren’t properly conducting or processing information,” explains Kentucky physician Rallie McAllister, coauthor of The Mommy MD Guide to Pregnancy and Birth. “Some of the rats displayed abnormal behavior after birth, such as becoming excessively fearful in new situations and an inability to play normally with peers. These are traits that are commonly associated with autism in children.
“Preliminary research suggests that manipulation of serotonin levels in the developing brain of the unborn baby might disrupt the proper development of the sensory-processing regions of the brain, and that maintaining the delicate balance of serotonin appears to be necessary for proper brain maturation,” McAllister says.
Yet another new study suggests that fetuses “know” when their mothers are depressed and that pregnant women’s changing emotional states affect fetal development.
From conception onward, should women sip two screwdrivers per week while patting dogs and eating organic sprouts very calmly, because stress during pregnancy is a famous risk factor?
Some behaviors we know are risky, but maybe not how or how much. Along with all the other dangers linked to smoking while pregnant, one new study found that the children of women who smoke at least 20 cigarettes per day while pregnant are 30 percent more likely to have been arrested by age 33 than the children of nonsmoking women.
Another study found that men whose mothers smoked while pregnant have a 25 percent lower sperm count than men whose mothers did not smoke while pregnant.
Don’t look down: according to that same study, men who were exposed to smoking in utero also have testicles 1.15 millileter smaller than men whose mothers never smoked while pregnant.
Meanwhile, some behaviors and exposures long considered hazardous might be quite the opposite.
For instance, in-utero exposure to pets might make kids less allergic to pets. A study that examined the levels of Immunoglobulin E (IgE), a type of antibody associated with allergic reactions, found that children born into homes with indoor pet dogs or cats had 28 percent lower IgE levels associated with reduced allergic symptoms than children born into pet-free homes.
“The results of this study offer additional support for ‘the Hygiene Hypothesis,’ which holds that children who are around animals and other children early in life are exposed to a wider variety of microbes than children who are not,” McAllister says. “As a result, the exposed children’s immune systems develop a greater tolerance for irritants and allergens. Human immune systems need ‘practice’ fighting bacteria and viruses.”
And despite what we know about fetal alcohol syndrome, one study found that the sons and daughters of women who drink “lightly” defined as one or two alcoholic beverages per week—are 3 and 2 percent less likely to have “social or emotional difficulties” at age 5 than the offspring of women who drank no alcohol while pregnant.
“There are two possibilities here,” says Keith Eddleman, director of obstetrics at Mt. Sinai Medical Center in Queens, N.Y., and co-author of The Pregnancy Bible. “The first is that maybe there is some protective substance in alcoholic beverages that protects these sons and daughters from social and emotional difficulties. The more likely possibility is that there are other differences between mothers who do and do not consume alcohol during pregnancy that could explain this finding.”
That’s worth noting when confronting any such stats: association doesn’t automatically mean causation. Yes, the offspring of mothers who eat only junk food while pregnant are nearly twice as likely to become “junk food junkies” as the offspring of mothers who eat balanced diets while pregnant at least according to one Australian study. But who knows what else is going on with women who feast on junk food or snort coke, smoke heavily, eat conventionally grown produce, take SSRIs, or do pretty much anything at all that might affect their babies?
“Any mother taking cocaine or smoking during pregnancy … may have other factors that lead to smoking or cocaine use,” says Stachel, whose WE CARE program supplies African hospitals with lighting, equipment and power. “They may be more stressed, more depressed, more angry, eating a worse diet, taking worse care of themselves and their children, for example, than moms not exposed to cigarettes or cocaine during pregnancy.”
So what can we control? From conception onward, should women sip two screwdrivers per week while patting dogs and eating organic sprouts very calmly, because stress during pregnancy is a famous risk factor? Numerous studies link prenatal stress with ADHD and low IQ in children. A Dutch study found that the babies of women who had high anxiety while pregnant are 9 percent more likely to have skin problems or respiratory illness than those of women who remained relatively stress-free while pregnant.
A likely culprit is the “stress hormone,” cortisol.
“Moms-to-be with high stress levels have higher cortisol levels, to which their unborn babies are exposed,” McAllister explains. “At appropriate levels and in the short term, cortisol can help the body deal successfully with stressful situations. But at higher levels and over longer periods of time, cortisol can have negative effects on the body.”
These effects include interference with immune function, blood sugar, and digestion, as well as increased inflammation and bone loss. This, says McAllister, “is enough to suggest that moms-to-be can benefit from steering clear of stressful situations and environments as much as possible.”
A raft of research confirms this. So relax. Right now. For real. Far from the nearest freeway. Back away slowly from that hair dryer. And put down the cellphone.
Experts in epidemiology have described as weak a study that found high levels of exposure to magnetic fields during pregnancy may triple the risk the child will develop asthma.
The California study, published in the journal Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, required 801 pregnant women to wear meters for 24 hours that measured their exposure to magnetic fields, such as those emitted by power lines, flourescent lights, hairdryers and microwave ovens. EMF emitted by wi-fi networks and mobile phones were not included in the study.
Checks on the resulting offspring 13 years later revealed that children whose mothers had a high level of magnetic field exposure during pregnancy were 3.5 times more likely to develop asthma than those whose mothers experienced low levels of exposure.
“Our findings provide new epidemiological evidence that high maternal [magnetic field] levels in pregnancy may increase the risk of asthma in offspring,” the authors wrote in their paper.
However, experts in the design of health studies have described the research as having “major deficiencies” and ignoring previous studies that found there was limited evidence of a link.
“There are major deficiencies in the epidemiological methods which lack detail and, for example, specifically fail to identify the proportions of mothers who did not take part (refusals, non-English speakers) and children who were excluded,“ said Professor Patricia McKinney, Professor of Paediatric Epidemiology at the University of Leeds.
“The characteristics of the non-participants need to be described as they may influence interpretation of the results.”
It was impossible to know how representative the study sample was and whether selection bias may have influenced the outcome, she said.
Professor McKinney pointed out that the meters measured exposure for just one day during the entire nine months of pregnancy.
“Furthermore, the vulnerability of the fetus varies throughout pregnancy and most exposures which cause harm do so during a ‘critical window’ and not across the nine months of pregnancy.””
Rodney Croft, Professor of Health Psychology at the University of Wollongong and an expert on the health risks of electromagnetic field emitting devices, also warned against drawing hasty conclusions from the California study.
“Unfortunately, there are too many issues with this paper to make it more than a hypothesis-generating exercise, and certainly it does not justify any concern at present. There are problems with both the study itself, as well as how the authors interpret their findings,“ he said.
“For example, it does not provide a good measure of exposure (it merely assumes that a personal dosimeter from one day provides a good estimate of gestational exposure); it does not describe the extent to which multiple comparisons may have invalidated the conclusions (this is particularly important given that it is a very speculative study which, contrary to the assertions of the authors, is not based on reliable research suggesting an interaction between magnetic fields and disease).”
The researchers were unable to demonstrate that exposure to magnetic fields caused asthma in the resulting offspring he said.
“It is also worth clarifying some mixed messages from the paper: It claims to be assessing relations with magnetic fields in general, but it only looks at a subset of time varying magnetic fields (40-800 Hz), ignoring more prevalent magnetic fields such as the Earth’s (which falls below this frequency range but is about 100 times stronger); and it links these ‘extremely low frequency’ fields to ‘radiofrequency fields’ in the introduction, yet they are not related and affect the body in completely different ways.” Magnetic Field Exposure
Professor David Spiegelhalter, Winton Professor of the Public Understanding of Risk at the University of Cambridge, cautioned that the findings would need to be replicated by other researchers before any conclusions could be drawn.
“This study has the advantage of having measured exposure to magnetic fields during pregnancy rather than relying on recall, but the disadvantage that the possible association with asthma seems to be an afterthought in a study of miscarriage,“ he said.
Prof William Stewart, Visiting Professor at University of Southampton and an expert in electromagnetic fields, said the study had “a number of weaknesses”, including the use of meters that measure only AC fields and not the Earth’s DC field.
“This is important because the biological interactions of pure magnetic fields are very small compared with those of electric fields – so the authors should not describe it as a magnetic field effect at all, or mums-to-be will start to hide from the earth’s 500mG field in magnetically-shielded rooms!”
He also said the authors, who used the same cohort sample of pregnant women for an earlier study on miscarriage, did not explicitly say how many health problems they were looking for in the offspring.
“If many other things were checked [such as autism, heart conditions or miscarriage] then the statistical significance threshold should have been raised accordingly.”
Is it a cactus? A palm tree? A water tower? No It’s a cell phone tower That’s right Cell phone towers today are being disguised in subtle ways unheard of just a few years ago. See a grain silo? Or a church steeple? You guessed it. It could very well be a cell phone tower. There’s even a cell phone tower that looks just like a lighthouse.never mind that it’s over two miles from the ocean.
But don’t let the pretty and ingenious disguises fool you. There is a real and present danger lurking behind the mask of these innocent designs.
Why the disguises? Obviously, for aesthetic reasons. The cell phone companies don’t want to make their neighborhood friends upset. They want to blend in. So they blend in while they blast your home and neighborhood with toxic electromagnetic radiation.
Cell phone towers, sometimes called masts, or mobile phone towers, weren’t an issue years ago when they were few and far between. One could often drive miles and miles through the countryside and never see one. They were few in number and were only found in obscure locations and seen only on an occasional hilltop. Today cell phone towers have increased dramatically in number. There are now more than 1.9 million cell phone towers and antenna towers spread throughout the U.S. They are now found on churches, schools and firehouses as well as being seen on the rooftop of buildings everywhere. Did you know there is even a cell phone tower near Old Faithful in Yellowstone Park? Can’t sleep well at night? It may be that there’s a cell phone tower close by.
Just why would a mobile phone tower be placed on a church, school or firehouse? Why would school boards and churches agree to this? Money. It’s that simple. The mobile phone companies will pay these organizations, and individual property owners, handsomely to install their equipment on their properties. This “rent money” can range from a few hundred dollars a month to several thousand dollars a month. What school district or church couldn’t use extra money to aid a struggling budget? By “renting” the space on an already-constructed building the cell phone industry doesn’t have to purchase land, build a tower or construct a new building. It simply mounts its equipment on a structure that already exists. It’s a win-win deal for the cell phone company and the new ‘landlord.’
Opposition to these cell tower installments used to gone unnoticed and without question. Not so today. Neighborhoods and citizens are becoming vocally opposed. But it’s not the esthetics that causes residents and property owners to oppose these structures. Communities and citizens are afraid of the potential health effects being caused by this technology as well as the adverse affect on property values.
We Can’t Stop Cell Phone Tower Construction
Unfortunately, there isn’t much one can do to stop the proliferation and continued build out of cell phone towers and structures. Although thought to be legislation about deregulation issues, the Telecommunications Act of 1996 (TCA) was really an open invitation for the cell phone industry to place their towers anywhere they wanted. Section 704 of the TCA basically states that local authorities can’t ban the placement of towers in their jurisdictions. The law says: “No State or local government or instrumentality thereof may regulate the placement, construction, and modification of personal wireless service facilities on the basis of the environmental effects of radio frequency emissions to the extent that such facilities comply with the Commission’s regulations concerning such emissions.” So legally the local government can’t refuse the construction of a cell phone tower in your neighborhood Any challenge by local communities could easily end up in federal court. Our lawmakers have basically given the cell phone industry free reign to install these towers wherever they want. And, by the way, the cell phone industry helped write this legislation that our government officials passed as law The public, therefore, now has no voice and no vote. Is there something wrong with this picture? Why didn’t our public officials represent the people instead of big business? Why would you let the very industry you’re trying to regulate write it’s own laws?
Does the income outweigh the potential risks? It appears not. Scores of studies and well-respected research have exposed alarming health effects from various forms of cancer to stress. Many experts today are predicting an epidemic in brain cancer soon.
Representatives from the industry are quick to point out the microwaves emitted by cell phone towers are well below federal standards. And indeed they may be. At least on paper. Most towers operate at a power output of 100 watts. However, this isn’t the total wattage of the tower. What they aren’t telling you is that 100 watts is the power per channel. Since one tower may have dozens of channels you can see that the power output could be highly excessive and well beyond 100 watts. It’s a technical loophole. And, of course, who is monitoring the power output from these towers after they are erected? The FCC certainly isn’t. It doesn’t have the manpower or money to properly regulate the millions of towers and antennas now online. And who is to prevent these companies from turning up the wattage when no one is around? Some have reported that many of these towers have already shown power outputs in the 900 to 1000 watt range.
You Can’t Escape The Radiation. It’s Everywhere.
We simply can’t escape the exposure to this radiation. It’s everywhere. There are so many people using cell phones and wireless connections today that you don’t even have to own a cell phone to be exposed. You’re just as exposed as everyone else. Every time someone makes a call from a mobile phone the signal is sent to a cell phone tower. There are so many calls being made by everyone all around us and now there are so many mobile phone towers in operation, that all of us are caught in the crossfire. It’s like second-hand smoke from cigarettes, except that we can’t get away from it. There simply isn’t anywhere to escape.
How Mobile Phone Towers Work
Cell phone towers emit signals in a “flower petal” pattern around the tower. This 360-degree radius around the tower is called a “cell” and this is what the term “cell” in cell phone means. When your phone is in a “cell” you get good reception and when it isn’t in a?”cell” you get poor reception. So, for a cell phone company to provide complete coverage cell phone towers and antenna towers must be positioned all across the country so that the “cells” overlap. You can begin to see what a huge infrastructure needs to be created to provide complete cell phone coverage. That’s why cell phone towers and antenna towers are so prevalent. Furthermore, that’s why these antennas are installed in so many places like rooftops, fire stations, schools and churches. This is what is necessary for complete coverage.
Studies Show Adverse Health Effects From Cell Phone Towers
If you aren’t sure that cell phone towers and masts are harmful the following study summaries should convince you. Below are listed six studies that have shown significant adverse health effects on people living near cell phone towers. According to Dr. Grahame Blackwell “these are the only studies known that specifically consider the effects of masts on people. All six studies show clear and significant ill-health effects. There are no known studies relating to health effects of masts that do not show such ill-health effects.”
Santini et al. found significant health problems in people living within 300 meters of a cell phone base station or tower. The recommendation was made from the study that cell phone base stations should not be placed closer than 300 meters to populated areas. Pathol Biol (Paris) 2002; 50: 369-373.
A Netherlands Organization for Applied Scientific Research study entitled, “Effects of Global Communications System Radio-Frequency Fields On Well Being and Cognitive Function of Human Subjects With and Without Subjective Complaints” found significant effects on well being including headaches, muscle fatigue, pain, and dizziness from tower emissions well below the “safety” level.
Gerd, Enrique, Manuel, Ceferino and Claludio conducted a Spanish study called “The Microwave Syndrome” and found adverse health effects from those living near two cell phone base stations. The health effects included fatigue, a tendency toward depression, sleeping disorders, difficulty in concentration and cardiovascular problems.
From an Israeli study published in the International Journal of Cancer Prevention, Vol. 1, No. 2, April 2004, Wolf and Wolf reported a fourfold increase in the incidence of cancer in people living within 350 meters of a cell phone tower as compared to the Israeli general population. They also reported a tenfold increase specifically among women.
In the Naila Study from Germany, November 2004, five medical doctors collaborated to assess the risk to people living near a cell phone tower. The retrospective study was taken from patient case histories between 1994 and 2004 from those who had lived during the past ten years at a distance up to 400 meters from the tower site. The results showed that the proportion of newly developed cancer cases was significantly higher in those patients living within the 400-meter distance and that the patients became ill on average eight years earlier. In the years 1999 to 2004, after five years of operation of the transmitting tower, the relative risk of getting cancer had trebled for residents of the area in the proximity of the installation compared to the inhabitants of Naila outside the area.
An Austrian Study released in May 2005, showed that radiation from a cell phone tower at a distance of 80 meters causes significant changes of the electrical currents in the brains of test subjects. All test subjects indicated they felt unwell during the radiation and some reported being seriously ill. According to the scientists doing the study, this is the first worldwide proof of significant changes of the electrical currents in the brain, as measured by EEG, by a cell phone base station at a distance of 80 meters. Subjects reported symptoms such as buzzing in the head, tinnitus, palpitations of the heart, lightheadedness, anxiety, shortness of breath, nervousness, agitation, headache, heat sensation and depression. According to scientists this is the first proof that electrical circuits in the brain are significantly affected by a cell phone tower. The distance in this study was a mere 80 meters.
Two-time Nobel Prize nominee Dr. Gerald Hyland, a physicist, had this to say about mobile phone towers. “Existing safety guidelines for cell phone towers are completely inadequate. Quite justifiably, the public remains skeptical of attempts by governments and industry to reassure them that all is well, particularly given the unethical way in which they often operate symbiotically so as to promote their own vested interests.”
Dr. Bruce Hocking did a study in Syndey, Australia, of children living near TV and FM broadcast towers, which by the way, are very similar to cell phone towers. He found that these children had more than twice the rate of leukemia as children living more than seven miles away from these towers.
Results in yet another recent study conducted on inhabitants living near or under a mobile phone base station antenna yielded the following prevalence of neuropsychiatric complaints: headache (23.5%), memory changes (28.2%), dizziness (18.8%), tremors (9.4%), depressive symptoms (21.7%), and sleep disturbances(23.5%). In this study the participants were given a neurobehavioral test battery measuring such things as problem solving, visuomotor speed, attention andmemory. Symptoms of exposed inhabitants were significantly higher than control groups.
Furthermore, Europe’s top environmental watchdog group, European Environment Agency (EEA), is calling for immediate action to reduce exposure to mobile phone masts. EEA suggests action to reduce exposure immediately to vulnerable groups such as children.
The development of brain tumors in staff members working in a building in Melbourne, Australia, prompted the closing of the top floors of the building. The Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology is housed in the building. Seven staff members were diagnosed with brain tumors and five of the seven worked on the top floor. A cell phone antenna is located on the roof of the building.
The Orange phone company in England is being forced to remove its mast tower on a building in Bristol, England. The removal is a result of a five-year effort by residents and local authorities to have the mast removed. Cancer rates in the building, which has become known internationally as the “Tower of Doom,” have soared to ten times the national average for the 110 residents living there. The two masts sitting on the roof, one owned by Orange and the other by Vodafone, were installed in 1994. Vodafone has refused the remove its mast.
Cell Phone Towers Affect Animals
Animals aren’t exempt from exposure the cell phone tower radiation either. One veterinary school in Hanover, Germany, reports that dairy cows kept in close proximity to a cell phone tower for two years had a reduction in milk production in addition to other health problems including abnormal behavior patterns.
Firefighters Vote To Suspend Cell Tower Construction On Fire Stations
Concerned about the effect that masts have on the nation’s firefighters, The International Association of Fire Fighters voted in 2004 to voice its opposition to cell phone towers and antennas being place on and around fire stations. They want proof first that there isn’t a safety issue and have asked for a moratorium on further construction and placement of any more towers or antennas on or around firehouses until such a study can be conducted.
What Are These Antennas Doing To Our Kids While They’re In School?’t worth the risk. They should not be subjected to microwave radiation when science has proven there could clearly be devastating effects as outlined in the previously mentioned studies. School boards and parent organizations need to be aware of the inherent dangers from such an exposure. It’s been clearly shown that microwave radiation penetrates the head of a child much easier than that of an adult. This is due to the thinner and softer bones in the head of child. Skull bones don’t fully harden until about age 22.
How Many Cell Phone Towers Are Near You?
The average person lives within one-half mile of a cell phone tower. Have you ever wondered how close you live or work to one of these towers? Would it bother you if one were right in your backyard? How many of these towers and antennas do you think there are in your immediate area? Find out by visiting the website http://www.antennasearch.com/. Simply type in your address and you’ll get a listing and a map of all the towers and antennas within a short radius of your address. Like most people you’ll probably gasp when you see the numbers. These towers are literally everywhere. Hundreds and hundreds of them are probably located within a few miles of your home or office.
Watch The Signal Bars On Your Cell Phone
The signal bars on your cell phone tell you how strong the signal is that are connecting to your cell phone. In other words, the closer you are to a cell phone tower the stronger the signal. The stronger the signal the less power your phone has to use to maintain the connection. A strong signal is indicated by a full set of “bars” showing on your cell phone display. Fewer bars mean a weaker signal. A weaker signal means the cell phone has to work harder to maintain the signal. Consequently, more power is needed to maintain the connection. The more power needed the greater the amount of radiation produced by your phone and the greater exposure to you. So always try to talk in outdoors or in an open space. This allows an easier connection from your cell phone to the nearest cell phone tower. Your phone won’t have to work as hard and less power is used to maintain the signal, which translates, to less radiation exposure for you.
What Can We Do?
Obviously, can’t escape the exposure. We’ve established that fact. So what can we do to minimize the damage?
Here are few ideas: We need to limit our exposure any way possible. Don’t live near a cell phone tower if you have a choice. Don’t buy a home near one even if the price is right. Limit your use of wireless devices. Go back to ‘wired’ connections whenever possible. Maximize your health through proper nutrition and good hydration. Eat foods high in antioxidants and take supplements. Eat organically as much as possible. There is no safe distance to locate away from a mast tower. Obviously, the closer to the tower the greater the exposure risk so do locate as far away as possible. Whenever possible encourage your local government officials to consider transitioning to the use of fiber optic cable. Most of it has already been laid underground. It’s just not being used. There are no masts with fiber optics and the small amount of radiation at the exits can be neutralized with technology now available. Discourage the use of Wi-Fi in schools by meeting with your school officials and school boards. Wi-Fi hotspots are popping up everywhere now. Even whole cities are going wireless with the installation of Wi-Fi. Again, it’s all done through a wireless signal, which is damaging to your health. Don’t let cell phone companies install cell phone antennas on the roofs of schools where your children attend. The radio waves are disruptive to their ability to focus, not to mention the health hazards we’ve already outlined. If you can’t change your current situation there is some hope. There are some intervention devices now available that you can use in your home, school and office to help lessen the risk of exposure. Some very good cutting-edge technology has been developed that will intervene and help mitigate the damage being done by wireless connections.
St. Louis, Missouri
City of Bankstown, Australia,
Murfreesboro Tennessee USA
Dibba Al-Hisn, United Arab Emirates, Dibba Al-Hisn, UAE
There was big cellphone news out of San Francisco this week – and we’re not talking about the Wednesday launch of Apple’s latest must-have gadget, the iPhone 5. On Monday, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, based in San Francisco, blocked the implementation of that city’s heavy-handed cellphone radiation warning law, pending the outcome of an industry challenge.
This isn’t a case about medicine or Americans’ love of constant connection. It’s about whether the First Amendment protects businesses from engaging in nanny-state, government-ordered speech.
The ordinance, believed to be the first of its kind in the nation, would require cellphone dealers to tell customers the devices may expose them to levels of radio-frequency emissions the World Health Organization classifies as potentially cancer-causing. Businesses would be required to prominently display an informational poster advising customers that the energy emitted by mobile phones is “”a possible carcinogen.”” Retailers also would have to provide customers with an information sheet and paste an informational sticker on all display literature, with all language scripted by the city.
The wireless industry has vehemently contested the assertions contained in the health advisory, noting the World Health Organization issued a report in June 2011 concluding that no adverse health effects had been established as being caused by mobile phone use.
In its brief, unpublished opinion, the 9th Circuit – which has jurisdiction over Nevada – reversed a lower-court judge who said the city could compel cellphone companies to distribute a “”fact sheet”” because its Board of Supervisors concluded “”there is debate in the scientific community about the health effects of cellphones.””
All such portable communication devices certainly do emit radio-frequency radiation, at cumulative levels that differ from device to device. Those levels will be higher for people who never put their phones down. Users should seek independent data on potential health effects.
But this case is primarily about “”compelled speech.”” In a friend of the court brief, the Virginia-based Rutherford Institute argues that retailers have a constitutional right not to be forced to speak for the government. As anyone who has looked at a cigarette pack or advertisement in recent decades could have predicted, the court agreed only in part, holding government-compelled speech must be “”purely factual and uncontroversial.”” The debate over the health risks posed by cellphones is far from settled.
“”The very purpose of the First Amendment … is to ensure that Americans are free to think, speak, write and worship as they please, not as the government dictates,”” notes John W. Whitehead, president of institute. “”Well-meaning or not, the government’s desire to communicate a disputed health alert about cellphone usage cannot be permitted to trump the First Amendment rights of San Franciscans to decide for themselves whether or not to advance such a message.””
Those concerned about the possible health effects of electromagnetic radiation have plenty of ways to publicize their concerns. But if freedom of speech means anything, it certainly should forbid government from using the force of law to require anyone to speak out against his or her own interests and beliefs. San Francisco’s ordinance should be struck down before it can spread here or anywhere else.
Broken Hill Australia
Sri Lanka, Colombo
San Bernardino, California
Providence, Rhode Island
Allentown Pennsylvania USA
Microwave – and other forms of electromagnetic – radiation are major (but conveniently disregarded, ignored, and overlooked) factors in many modern unexplained disease states. Insomnia, anxiety, vision problems, swollen lymph, headaches, extreme thirst, night sweats, fatigue, memory and concentration problems, muscle pain, weakened immunity, allergies, heart problems, and intestinal disturbances are all symptoms found in a disease process originally described in the 1970s as Microwave Sickness.
When the talented physician-author Servan-Schreiber wrote those prophetic words he was lucky. It had been 18 years since he had been diagnosed with a brain tumor incidental to an MRI. The book describing the anti-cancer program he developed had sold several million copies and may well have extended his life. Most brain tumors remain hidden and are only diagnosed after metastasizing into seizures or strokes. David’s luck ran out last year, when he died of a glioblastoma—spreading malignant tumor of the brain. Was it merely a coincidence that he had used one of his three cellphones held close to his head regularly for more than a decade before developing this fatal brain tumor? The WHO (World Health Organization) thinks not, having recently declared cellphone and other wireless radiation a “possible human carcinogen,” adding them to a list that includes some pesticides, engine exhausts and solvents. While we cannot be certain whether cellphone radiation may have promoted or caused the tumor that took his life, that is a highly plausible explanation.
In America today, about 20 million children under the age of 14 have cellphones, and the CDC reports that one-fifth of all 2 year olds reportedly spend two hours a day in front of a screen. Increasingly, scientists and policy makers in tech-savvy nations like Israel and Finland are concerned that the ways these devices are used imperil the brain. The iPhone plastic baby rattle case protects the phone’s glass screen from cracking when dropped or chomped on by teething inquisitive babies, but does not protect the infant’s young brain from the phone’s pulsed digital microwave radiation.
Cell phones have revolutionized the ability to carry out research and promote public health interventions. But, there’s growing recognition in technologically advanced nations that we need to get smarter about how we use these and other wireless devices. Fine print warnings that come with all smart phones today advise not keeping phones in the pocket or next to the body — advice that is typically ignored. Growing numbers of national authorities, from Israel to France and Russia are making concerted efforts to promote awareness of the need to Practice Safe Phone.
The proliferation of wireless gadgets overlooks a critical health issue: non-ionizing or microwave radiation at levels that do not induce measurable changes in temperature can change and damage the brain and sperm of experimental animals. A cellphone is a two-way microwave radio with intermittent and destabilizing pulses, unlike microwave ovens that steadily operate at the same frequencies at much greater power. The weak and erratic microwave radiation from cellphones and tablets cannot directly break the bonds that hold molecules together, but does disrupt DNA, weaken the brain’s protective barrier and release highly reactive and damaging free radicals.
A 5 year old’s brain, healthy or otherwise, is encased in a thinner skull and contains more fluid than an adult brain. According to studies carried out by industry modelers in Switzerland and France, the bone marrow of a child’s head absorbs 10 times more radiation than an adult, while that of infants and toddlers will absorb even more. Few parents realize that infant apps such as One Fish Two Fish, Peekaboo Farm, and Twinkle Twinkle Little Star may do much more than amuse and distract babies. The American Academy of Pediatrics cautions that children need more real face time than screen time; more laps than apps.
Most disconcerting are findings from Nesrin Seyhan, the NATO-supported founding chairman of the Biophysics Department at Gazi University in Ankara, Turkey, whose studies show that prenatally exposed rats and rabbits have fewer brain cells — and those that survive sustain more damage to their brains, livers, reproductive systems and eyes. Recent reports from Yale University’s chief of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Hugh Taylor found that prenatal exposures significantly increased hyperactive behavior in offspring. Other research carried out by National Institute of Drug Abuse Director Nora Volkow, MD, PhD, showed that exposures to cellphone radiation directly alters brain metabolism in human brain cells. Experimental work completed by American, Australian, Greek and Turkish teams working with experts in male reproductive health has reported that cellphone-radiation-exposed human sperm die three times faster, swim significantly more poorly, become more deformed and develop significantly more damage to sperm DNA.
The brain cancer story remains complex, because the disease has a long latency up to four decades and because past uses and users differ radically from current ones.
Distance is your Friend
What can you do to protect yourself from radiation emitted from high tech gadgets? Fortunately, industry has begun to issue more warnings. Samsung provides this advice: “Your mobile device is not a toy. Do not allow children to play with it because they could hurt themselves and others, damage the device, or make calls that increase your mobile device bill. Keep the mobile device and all its parts and accessories out of the reach of small children.”
* When it comes to using electronic devices, remember: Distance is your friend.
* Don’t hold a cell phone directly up to your head. Use a headset or speakerphone to talk on the phone, or a case (such as Pong) that has been independently tested to reduce radiation up to 90%.
* Pregnant women should keep cell phones away from their abdomen and men who wish to become fathers should never keep phones on in their pocket.
* Don’t allow children to play with or use your cell phone. Older children should use a headset or speakerphone when talking on a cell phone.
* Do not text and drive, and use specially adapted antennas for cars to avoid absorbing maximum power as the phone moves from one cell system to another.
* Turn off your wireless router at night to minimize exposure to radiation.
* Eat green vegetables and get a good night’s sleep in a dark room to enhance natural repair of DNA that may have been damaged by radiation.
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Al Masafirah, United Arab Emirates, Al Masafirah, UAE
Right after I learned that a panel of scientists from the World Health Organization had said for the first time that there may be a “”possible”” link between cellphones and a highly malignant type of brain cancer, I went for a walk in my downtown neighbourhood.
Roughly every third person was using a cell phone – mommies pushing strollers with one arm and holding a phone to their ear with the other; laughing and shouting teens coming home en masse from school, some texting, some talking; the now standard wilted-tulip-necked pedestrians checking their messages.
Maybe one day, if the darkest of scenarios is true and heavy cellphone users start showing up with glioma, this everyday street scene will seem as remarkable to us as photographs of roomfuls of people from the fifties and sixties madly smoking: How could we all have been so stupid?
But then again, maybe not. The evidence of any link between the electromagnetic waves that cellphone use depends on and cancer is tenuous and frustratingly hard to quantify, and all this panel of scientists from the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer did was review the existing studies to date, issue a general warning and call for, yes, more research.
Still, I’m weirdly agitated about this latest cellphone scare, however much it has been mocked by naysayers who in a rather patronizing way point out that the WHO’s list of “”possible”” carcinogens includes pickled onions and coffee.
I’m angry not because I just got a new smart phone – if anything, I will be e-mailing more and talking less – but because this cancer theory has been around for a long time and it’s not going away. Indeed it is starting to segue from a heavily mocked urban myth to a more urgent “”what if?””
It’s not myself I’m worried about. I am not a heavy user. But our grown kids don’t even have landlines. The whole ritual of renting that first apartment and waiting for a phone to be installed is ancient history.
And if they are self-employed or working on contract, as so many are, they are on their phones all day and night. For twentysomethings, a cellphone is not a habit, it’s a way of life.
So if anyone is going to end up with tumours and fertility problems (if you’re a guy and carry a phone in your jeans pocket), it’s our children. And that makes me angry on their behalf, because they are so dependent on their cells that they are probably not going to pay all that much attention to the WHO alert. (Although I do know one twentysomething who began using a headset immediately after hearing the news.)
Face it, we are all crazy about our cellphones, a fact that Marc Choma, spokesperson for the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association, which works on behalf of the industry, emphasized so many times in the course of a very brief interview – “”we all love our cellphones, right?””- that I wondered whether the association provides a downloadable app with that soothing message.
The latest numbers show about 25 million Canadian cellphone users, which puts us in the 75 per cent range for penetration, and worldwide the figure is now up to an astonishing 5 billion users.
And as both Mr. Choma and a spokesperson from Health Canada, who said our cellphone safety standards are among the highest in the world, reminded me, any “”responsible journalist”” should emphasize that absolutely nothing has been proven, that the WHO panel only says there is “”suggestive”” evidence of a link between electromagnetic waves and cancer.
There was, however, a very odd quote on the CBC website from Bernard Lord, CEO of the CWTA. “”When you consider that more than half of 911 calls made in Canada are made from mobile devices, I think it’s safe to say mobile devices have saved lives in Canada.”” A statement so irrelevant to the subject of cancer and cellphone usage that it made me more, not less, concerned about a possible health risk.
There is no use in getting hysterical and jumping the gun as the Ontario NDP just did, calling for warnings on cellphones because, as the party’s health critic said, “”they’re cooking your brain slowly.””
But the other extreme is to blithely ignore this warning. So until further notice, it is what it always has been: user beware, while taking steps to minimize your risk like using a headset, texting instead of calling and keeping your conversations short.
Parents of teens, who live only in the moment, should probably be emphasizing safe cell use along with safe sex.
And there should be an aggressive push from consumers and governments to demand the best and most definitive research possible on the subject.
Five billion people have a right to know if cellphone use poses a significant health risk. Even if many of them wish they could just delete an alarming answer.
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The World Health Organization (WHO) has stated that mobile phone use is a possible carcinogen to humans. Today as cell phone use continues to grow, more researchers are speaking out against the technology to warn the public of serious biological side effects that must be acknowledged and remedied.
In May 2011, WHO was the first large agency to admit cell phones might certainly cause cancer, classifying its electromagnetic radiation as “possibly carcinogenic to humans,” and listed cell phones in the same carcinogenic hazardous category as lead, engine exhaust and chloroform. Given the potential consequences, WHO recommended reducing exposure of radiation through hands-free devices and text-messaging.
At the time, scientists found that the use of wireless telephones increase the risk for brain cancer, but had not been able to draw conclusions for other types of cancers. However, in a recent lecture by Dr. Devra Davis, author of the book “The Secret History of the War on Cancer,” she provides toxicological and epidemiological evidence to back up her claims and get the word out on the dangers of cell phone radiation and the biological impact of cell phones which disrupt resonance and interferes with DNA repair causing other types of cancers in the human body than just brain cancer.
Dr. Davis analyzed one interesting case that was released in the recent May issue of the Environmental Health Trust’s newsletter about a young woman who came down with multi-focal breast cancer after having the peculiar habit of tucking her cell phone into her bra. The woman had no other predisposing risk factors for cancer. When cancer specialists analyzed the distribution of her cancerous cells they found the cancer was directly beneath the area of her breast where she’d been tucking her cell phone into her bra. While her doctor can’t prove that the cell phone radiation caused her cancer, the probability is very likely and this case should serve as a potent warning for all of us who keep our phones close to our body in our pants or shirt pockets.
“As a general rule, you should avoid carrying your phone anywhere on your body,” states Dr. Davis. It is important to know that as long as your cell phone is on, it emits radiation intermittently even when you are not making a phone call. You do not want any part of your body within approximately six inches of the emitting antenna to keep away from radiation exposure.
Carrying your cell phone on your body is the worst place to store your phone. Earlier research published in 2009 showed evidence that wearing a cell phone on your hip could weaken an area of your pelvis. This study analyzed 150 men who regularly carried their cell phones attached to their belts for an average of 15 hours each day for approximately six years. Researchers found that bone mineral density was lower on the pelvis side where the mobile phones were carried, increasing the possibility that bone density could be adversely affected by the electromagnetic fields emitted by cell phones. Therefore, all of us especially men may want to reconsider where we carry our cell phones.
There is now robust scientific evidence that cell phones and other wireless devices pose significant health risks to all of us. Yet, even though such findings are not being widely publicized, it makes sense for us to take action now to protect ourselves and our loved ones. Here are some useful tips from Dr. Davis to help minimize your exposure to electromagnetic radiation from cell phones and other wireless devices:
Avoid Carrying Your Cell Phone on Your Body: Ideally you should place it more than six inches away from the body, place it in your purse or carrying bag. Avoid carrying it in your pants or shirt pocket.
Reduce Your Cell Phone Usage and Use of Other Wireless Devices: Save your cell phone use for emergencies or important matters only. You would be wise to cut down on your use of these devices.
Turn Your Cell Phone Off More Often: Remember that as long as your cell phone is on, it still emits radiation intermittently, even when you are not making a call.
Use a Land Line at Home and at Work: Limit the amount of time spent on your cell phone when you have other land lines available.
Use Your Cell Phone Only Where Reception is good: The weaker the reception, the more power your phone must use which emits more radiation, and therefore the radio waves penetrate deeper into your body.
Don’t Assume That One Cell Phone is Safer than Another: There is no such thing as a “safe” cell phone, they all omit electromagnetic radiation.
Use Safer Headset Technology: Using wired headsets or speaker will certainly allow you to keep the cell phone further away from your body. And make sure that wire used to transmit signal to your ear is shielded to reduce transmitting radiation to your brain.
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Brunei, Darussalam Bandar Seri Begawan
As the controversy continues to rage over whether cell phone radiation can be linked to an increased risk of brain cancer, recently introduced legislation in the US Congress would offer the public more information to make educated choices over purchase and use of cell phones.
Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) has introduced H.R. 6358, the Cell Phone Right to Know Act, a bill to grant a consumer’s right-to-know by providing for warning labels on cell phones. It would also create a new national research program to study cell phones and health and require the Environmental Protection Agency to update the outdated Specific Absorption Rate (SAR). A federal appeals court in San Francisco is expected to consider a local right-to-know ordinance this week.
“Consumers have a right to know the radiation levels of cell phones and whether they are buying the phone with the lowest – or the highest – level of exposure to cell phone radiation. They also deserve to have up-to-date exposure standards that are put together by health professionals without conflicts of interest,” said Kucinich.
When Kucinich first called a hearing on the issue as Chair of the Domestic Policy Subcommittee on September 25, 2008, Dr. Ronald Herberman, then Director of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, testified to the Subcommittee, “I cannot tell this committee that cell phones are dangerous, but I certainly can’t tell you they are safe.”
Last year, the World Health Organization finished its assessment of the evidence about the links between exposure to radiation from cell phones and health problems. They concluded that there was enough evidence of a link to classify it as “possibly carcinogenic to humans,” placing it in the same category as lead and mercury.
The long-awaited Interphone study, a major inquiry into the potential links between cell phone use and tumors, concluded that when taken as a whole, there was not a link. However, when the data was broken down, more risk was found and the picture became clearer. Those using their cell phones typically only 30 minutes per day or more were found to have a 40% increased risk of a type of brain tumor called glioma, when compared to someone who had not used a cell phone. If the phone is used mostly on one side of the head, the risk is 96% more than someone unexposed to cell phone radiation.
“It took decades for scientists to be able to say for sure that smoking caused cancer. During those decades, the false impression created by industry supporters was that there was no connection between smoking and cancer, a deception which cost many lives. While we wait for scientists to sort out the health effects of cell phone radiation, we must allow consumers to have enough information to choose a phone with less radiation,” said Kucinich. “As long as cell phone users may be at increased risk of cancer or reproductive problems, Americans must have the right to know the radiation levels of cell phones.”
The warning labels required by H.R. 6358 would show the RF radiation emissions from the phone, legal limits and health-based goals for safe exposure. According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) the SAR is “the amount of radio frequency energy absorbed by the body when using a mobile phone.” The current SAR sets a maximum level of radiation emission at 1.6 watts per kilogram. The current SAR does not take into account vulnerable populations like kids or pregnant women. It also assumes a person’s only exposure is from the phone in use, but with WiFi, “smart phones,” and Bluetooth technologies, exposure to only one wireless device is increasingly rare, especially in urban environments. A Government Accountability Office report on cell phones and health is expected to be released soon.
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New bill proposes adding cell phone radiation warning labels to mobile phones, creating a national research program on cell phone radiation, and updating radiation emission standards, Bernstein Liebhard LLP reports.
New York, NY (PRWEB) August 13, 2012
A new federal bill called the Cell Phone Right to Know Act, H.R. 6358, hopes to put warning labels on cell phones, create a national research program to study cell phone radiation levels, and require an update on radiation standards. Bernstein Liebhard LLP, a nationwide law firm representing clients injured by cell phone radiation, reports on the bill introduced by Ohio Representative Dennis Kucinich on August 6, 2012.* “While we wait for scientists to sort out the health effects of cell phone radiation, we must allow consumers to have enough information to choose a phone with less radiation,” Kucinich said in a statement. “As long as cell phone users may be at increased risk of cancer or reproductive problems, Americans must have the right to know the radiation levels of cell phones.”
The warning label would include the RF – radiofrequency energy – levels emitted from the phone, legal limits and health-based goals for safe exposure. Current cell phone radiation standards by the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC”) set the Specific Absorption Rate (“SAR”), or the amount of radiation emitted to be at a maximum level of 1.6 watts per kilogram. Set in 1996, the current SAR level does not consider populations that may be even more vulnerable to the dangers of cell phone radiation, such as children or pregnant women. The bill would also require the Environmental Protection Agency to update SAR standards, instead of the FCC.
Cell Phone Radiation Safety Concerns Growing
The FCC submitted a proposal to reevaluate cell phone radiation emission standards in June 2012. An August 7, 2012 report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office (“GAO”) found that FCC cell phone radiation standards are outdated compared to standards of international regulatory agencies. The current levels may fail to reflect the most recent research on cell phone radiation, and may not identify the maximum exposure that most users are subject to.
Numerous studies have found that prolonged cell phone radiation exposure may put individuals at an increased risk for certain types of brain tumors, such as glioma, acoustic neuroma, and meningioma. In May 2011, the World Health Organization reclassified cell phones as possibly carcinogenic. Individuals who experienced cell phone side effects such certain types of tumors or cancers may be entitled to compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering and more.
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MUMBAI: Freedom from the alleged deadly intensity of electro-magnetic radiation from cell phone towers may come at a price for consumers, especially in the city, where tower density is comparatively higher.
A recent department of telecommunication (DoT) directive to reduce levels of radiation to 1/10th may force telecom operators to increase towers or base transmission stations of lesser radiation levels, rather than putting up fewer high-radiati-on towers.
This, experts said, would increase capital expenditure of operators, which consumers may have to compensate by paying higher tariffs. Each station comes at Rs 3-5 lakh and requires costlier maintenance. But sources said companies will have to first appeal for a higher tariff before the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), following which the authority will take a decision after hearing consumer appeals.
Against high-radiation towers fitted as densely as 300 metres from each other in Mumbai, telecom firms may have to go in for lower power stations or towers beyond a minimum 500-metre peripheral distance from each other.
The distance between towers has been specified in the natural habitat by the environment ministry, which is supposed to be 1,000 metres from each tower. But for dense urban localities like Mumbai, having highrises, no specific distance is recommended.
IIT professor Girish Kumar said each tower should radiate maximum two watts of power and be placed 500 metres from each other. “”Consumers can fit repeaters of maximum 0.1 watt capacity in offices or homes for safer radiation levels,”” he said.
Though bringing down radiation levels is welcome, he said, it will not reduce below 450 milliwatts, which is still high. “”Cell phone firms will not obey this directive of reducing levels. They will only assure consumers that radiation levels are lower than what is prescribed. We need a strong monitoring force to get it implemented,”” said Kumar. He said the notification could be a ploy to show the betterment of society but will result in more towers mushrooming, and consumers will have to pay for infrastructure and maintenance through bills.
Kumar said health problems occur after 15 years if the power is .1 watts, but with .45 watts (or 450 milliwatts), it takes few years. “”With 10 watts, it’s a matter of one or two years,”” he said. But Rajan Mathews, director-general, Cellular Operators Association of India), said levels were in compliance with international standards., thus achieving safest levels
The survey was by several institutes, including the wireless communication laboratory of IIT Madras and was sponsored by COAI and the Association of Unified Telecom Service Providers of India, Mathews said.
TRAI eye on city
The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has started setting up its office in Mumbai to keep an eye on telecom, broadcasting and cable services in the western region. It recently appointed Madan Mohan, a senior Indian Telecommunication Services officer, as its advisor for the region, which comprises Mumbai, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Goa. Monitoring quality and standards of services through audits and surveys, and ensuring compliance of tariff-related guidelines by telecom, broadcasting and cable operators, will be the office’s main responsibility, besides development of consumer advocacy groups and coordination with telecom enforcement and resource-monitoring cells of the department of telecommunication.
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