Steve Elwart, P.E., Ph.D., is the executive research analyst with the Koinonia Institute and a subject matter expert for the Department of Homeland Security. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.More ↓Less ↑
Many people are concerned about devices that generate RF radiation, such as cell phones, but now looming as a possible health threat are the related cell towers and Wi-Fi antennas that broadcast the signals.
There is a growing body of evidence the concerns may be valid.
The research team, led by Horst Eger, conducted the study to determine whether people living close to cell phone antennas were exposed to a heightened risk of developing malignant tumors.
The independent research team studied the case histories of 1,000 patients between the years 1994 and 2004. The participants were then classified into groups: those living 100, 200, 300 and 400 meters from the cell phone base station and a control group living beyond 400 meters.
The peer-reviewed study found significant relationships between exposure levels and symptoms. The study concluded that “the proportion of newly developing cancer cases was significantly higher among those patients who had lived during the past 10 years at a distance of up to 400 meters (1,300 feet) from the cellular transmitter site, which has been in operation since 1993, compared to those patients living further away, and that the patients fell ill on average eight years earlier.”
The study went on to conclude that between 1999-2004, after five years’ operation of the transmitter, residents inside the 400-meter radius of a cell tower were three times more likely to develop cancer than those that lived outside of the evaluated transmission area.
Eger’s study was not the only one that showed a correlation between health problems and RF radiation.
The study theorized that chronic exposure to high frequency electric and magnetic field (EMF) radiation and microwaves can cause adverse health risks, including headaches, fatigue and memory loss.
It gives credence to the fact that the ”non specific health symptoms” (NSHS) reported by people close to cell phone towers are real. The study states that the increase in reported NSHS seems to agree with findings from a 1996 Australian report that indicated that at 200 meters from a base station, some people exposed in their homes are complaining of chronic fatigue and sleep disturbances.
The study also gives credence to a Spanish preliminary study from the University of València which showed that people living within 500 feet of cellular phone base stations experienced symptoms of irritability, headaches, nausea and sleep disturbances as compared to those that lived at a distance greater than 800 feet.
In the range of 600 to 900 feet, the Santini study indicated that the primary symptom exhibited was fatigue. The study also indicated that women experienced ill effects more often than men.
In December 2012, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the AAP, backed U.S. House Bill 6358, the Cell Phone Right to Know Act. The bill under consideration would “examine, label and communicate adverse human biological effects associated with exposure to electromagnetic fields from cell phones and other wireless devices.”
The AAP, a non-profit professional organization of 60,000 pediatric physicians and health care professionals, is concerned that children are especially vulnerable to the effects of cell phone radiation. They believe that differences in bone density and the amount of fluid in a child’s brain compared to an adult’s brain make them more susceptible to RF energy deeper than adults.
The AAP has noted that the Federal Communications Commission has not revised its cell phone standards since 1996 and that the current standards are only based on the heat emitted by the phones. AAP members have raised the concern that that long-term RF energy exposure at current allowable levels may cause specific types of cancer, including glioma, tumors that start in the brain and spine, and meningioma, tumors in the central nervous systems.
In an interview with a Canadian press agency, Frank Clegg, the former president of Microsoft Canada, said the federal government has a duty to inform Canadians about safety concerns related to wireless technology.
“We have a responsibility as adults, as parents, as legislators to inform people so they can make intelligent decisions.”
Clegg, an icon in Canada’s technology sector, is now leading an organization called Citizens for Safe Technology. The organization is dedicated to disseminating information about communication technology, including cell towers, cellular phones and Wi-Fi.
Clegg believes that the Canadian government is not sharing enough information on the potential hazards of communication technology.
In 2011, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer determined that RF radiation is possibly carcinogenic. The agency cited mounting concerns about the use of wireless communication devices and noted that the number of mobile phone subscriptions has been estimated at 5 billion worldwide.
Electric and magnetic fields, or EMFs, are pervasive. While the human body is bombarded with them from natural sources as well as man-made ones, the body reacts differently to man-made sources.
There are recommended steps that can be taken to reduce exposure.
To find out the amount of EMF radiation at a location, a qualified technician can be consulted or an EMF meter can be used. A good one can be obtained for approximately $100.
Cordless devices such as cell phones, cordless phones and wireless monitors all produce EMF. If one is concerned about EMF or has “electromagnetic sensitivity,” limiting or avoiding the use of RF devices has been found to give relief.
Shielding an entire home is not feasible for most people. A survey of a home, however, can reveal any “hot spots” that could be shielded. What constitutes a high RF reading can be very subjective, but some sources suggest that a reading of 0.02V/m is a good threshold limit.
Some have found it helpful to remove any metals from beds, such as metal springs that may attack or amplify electromagnetic fields. Positioning a bed in such a way that the head is at least three to six feet away from electrical outlets also has been found to be helpful.
In addition, an EMF Faraday canopy can be installed over a bed. The canopy looks like a mosquito net, and it can be very effective, blocking 99 percent of the radiation. To increase protection for an entire room, a shielding paint can be applied to the walls. Some people looking for a very low cost solution have used aluminum foil secured with wallpaper paste.