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Are mobiles the next tobacco?
"People living near mobile phone masts 'are effectively involuntary subjects in a mass experiment."
- Dr Gerald Hyland, a board member of the International Institute of Biophysics
When in April 1994, CEOs of the leading US cigarette manufacturers testified under oath that they, "do not believe smoking causes death or that smoking is addictive", they set a new benchmark for corporate honesty. They may have had their backs against the wall, but the message was received loud and clear in every boardroom on earth - they'd got away with it.
With more mobile phones in the UK than people, and one in ten seriously addicted, are mobiles the new 'tobacco'? For years the mobile phone industry's tag line has been 'There is no evidence that radiation from mobile phones and masts is harmful.' But then neither is there 'evidence' that smoking causes cancer - only an irrefutable correlation between smoking and lung cancer.
While companies talk of thousands of studies which 'prove that current wireless technology is safe', in 1993 a research team under Dr. George Carlo - overseen by Harvard university - was given $28.5 million by the mobile phone industry to research the health effects of the technology.
After realising that all previous studies were based on data from microwave oven tests, which all happily concluded that 'if the power isn't high enough to cook the food, then it's safe to have your head in there while it's on', Dr Carlo got down to doing his own tests, which proved something else: That human cells do react to the microwave signals from mobile phones and, thinking themselves under attack, take steps to increase defences. The cell membranes harden, which inhibits their normal processes and leads to extra waste in the form of free radicals - effectively composed of poisons which damage the affected cells and more importantly, damage their DNA. It is a well established fact that DNA damage can lead to cancer.
According to a court submission by an independent research physicist, writing the Police Federation report on the new Tetra emergency services communications, "There is a plethora of extensive, well researched documents highlighting illnesses caused by microwave sickness around the world. These papers (in their thousands) highlight the illnesses caused by low-level (below thermal) microwaves as arrhythmia, heart attack, cell death, diseases of the blood, interference to bone marrow, brain tumours, DNA damage, altered calcium level in cells, reduction in night-time melatonin, suppression of the immune system, arthritis, rheumatism, skin problems, lymphatic diseases, vaginal discharge, vascular system disease, tinnitus, leukaemia, childhood cancer."
These cheerful little radiation waves are not only produced by mobile phones but by nearly every 'wireless' device on the market. But if the masses heard more about this they might not be so quick to sign up and chat or surf their day away. So what has the industry done to protect their profits…?
Well, the pattern is tried and tested. It took decades before it became accepted that tobacco was a major source of ill-health. One would be naive indeed to think that the mobile companies haven't already boned up on the tactics and are ready to wheel them out as needed.
First lesson learned is to deny everything and spend huge sums sponsoring 'research' that suggests otherwise. Check! Plenty of sympathetic puff pieces all round in the big news media to follow... Check! Sponsor more universities and research facilities to make sure you can apply pressure and stop the more controversial studies before they get published. Check!
With a pyramid of vested interests, the mobile firms seem to have everyone in their pockets. The World Health Organisation provided them with one of their best argument-winners with its apparent lack of interest in the matter. Coincidentally, only recently Mike Repacholi, head of their Electromagnetic Field department (and the inaugural chairman of ICNIRP - International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection) left under a cloud after it emerged he received hundreds of thousand of dollars from... the mobile phone industry.
The phones themselves, of course, are not the only health problem (not to mention issues about how they are manufactured - see SchNEWS 407 ). Anyone can decide not to eat McDonald's or not to smoke - or use a mobile - but the masts that provide the infrastructure are everywhere, with 35,000 base stations already across the country. They don't discriminate as they continually pump out their microwave radiation 24 hours a day.
The government's official guidelines to councils are so artfully ambiguous that it took two court cases to decide that councils cannot use health grounds to refuse a mast. In the 'Skelt vs Orange' 2003 case, the judge was about to rule that health effects should be a concern when the government (fighting the case for Orange) conceded the case with full costs which, while seeming some kind of 'victory' at the time, prevented a ruling which could be cited later as a precedent. Then in 2004, in the Harrogate case, the government was apparently fighting the case for local residents against the operator. The government barrister then made a poor case and failed to mention any evidence of health risks that hadn't already been dismissed. The ruling went in favour of the masts and this is now the case that is cited in all other court hearings on the issue.
The government, who got a cool £22.5 billion from the mobile industry in 3G licence fees (and made the companies promise to provide at least 80% national coverage in return), defend themselves using the NRPB - 'National Radiological Protection Board' - who state that current exposures are well inside the ICNIRP guidelines, and that they are following the precautionary principle. These guidelines turn out to come from research on... the heating effect of radiation in microwave ovens. And this 'safe' level is set at 3,300 units in Britain - compared to 100 units in Poland, 10 units in Italy and Russia and 6 units in parts of Canada. And allowing untold phone masts to remain next to children's bedrooms, while busily installing more, is apparently following some sort of profitability, er, I mean precautionary principle.
Following the Harrogate ruling, few councils will stand up to the operators and many that have find their decisions overturned on appeal, forcing them to pay costs as well - something the phone barons must enjoy reminding other councils about.
So, with government in bed with the operators, the 'independent' research facilities, protection boards and the media all bought off and silent, and with local councils' hands all but tied, mobile phones have become the new symbol of hide- all-the-risks and seek-maximum-profits. Symbols not of our trendy coolness and social influence, but of our submission. And so many people's health will suffer regardless of whether they go mobile or not. Roll over tobacco and get that 20 texts a day habit.
For more, start at www.tetrawatch.net and www.mastsanity.org
· Destroy your mobile (and then recycle it).
· If you have to have one, don't use 3G (2G radiation is not quite as bad) and use it as sparingly as possible or for sms texting only. It's not just for your own health, the more calls made - the more masts needed.
· Get rid of any other wireless devices, such as wireless modems and digital cordless phones - they are like putting a phone mast in your living room.
· Start a campaign or join an existing one.
· Do something that will force the national media to stop ignoring the issue.
· SchNEWS does not recommend finding out the locations and sabotaging phone masts in your area.