Different views on effects of cell mast radiation

Julian Hansen, Constantia

With reference to the article “Engineers argue that EMR radiation is safe”, (Bulletin, September 1). I’d like to address a few misleading and inaccurate points made. Other responses are also covered on the emrsa.co.za website.

The Inverse Square of the Distance Law is the strawman that is commonly used to “educate” the so-called “alarmists” about the realities of electromagnetic radiation (EMR). Its use is a clear indication of ignorance of the real issues at stake. The thermal effects of microwave radiation are well understood and undisputed. It is the non-thermal effects of long-term exposure to very low levels of EMR that is causing increasing concern within the scientific community and falls within the domain of epidemiology not engineering.

Mr Court’s use of the word “alarmist” is an insulting and grossly inaccurate description of the people who have dedicated themselves to finding out more about this pervasive technology. He seems to have overlooked the fact his raising of the fear card with respect to security is in itself an alarmist response.

His insensitive remarks claiming the apprehension of Franziska’s murderers as a win for this technology, in light of the increasing number of children being targeted for their phones, just highlights the extent to which he has failed to understand the issues.

If he was honest he would admit that his motivation is based less on security fears and more on the revenue his company derives from mobile data, which due to increased demand and the shorter range requirement of new technologies is behind the “need” for more masts. A classic case of Mr Fox assuring us the chickens are safe.

Claims that health authorities unanimously agree there are no health concerns is a blatant distortion of the truth. Most health authorities, including our own, defer to the World Health Organisation (WHO) who in turn, with the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP), put responsibility in the hands of local authorities. The WHO has never said that there are no health risks with this technology. What it has said is that while evidence is accumulating more research should be conducted, especially with respect to the effect on children. It also said that “the absence of evidence of harm should not be interpreted as evidence that no harm exists” – hardly a statement of safety.

Scientific studies have demonstrated biological effects from cell mast radiation at intensities several orders of magnitude below ICNIRP guidelines yet there is still vehement opposition to anyone who raises the issue of potential harm. If science is the pursuit of truth then why is so much effort being expended to silence people trying to investigate this?

If the claims of harm are ill-founded, one would expect over time to find less evidence of harm and fewer people claiming harmful effects as conditions and symptoms are explained. Yet the opposite is true. New studies are being published every year not only confirming the ill effects of EMR but giving insights into possible mechanisms behind them.

We were previously told that cellphones are safe but since then the WHO has upgraded its classification of EMR to a 2b, cellphone manufacturers have included body proximity warnings for their products and in March 2015 Lloyds of London added an exclusion clause excluding any claims “directly or indirectly arising out of, resulting from or contributed to by electromagnetic fields, electro-magnetic radiation, electromagnetism, radio waves or noise”. In light of this trend it would be naïve to ignore the growing evidence.