Health risks of cell masts

Derek Main

Derek Main, Tokai

Massive fraud is taking place with health risks of cell-mast emissions.

In the City of Cape Town Telecommunications Mast Infrastructure Policy (2015), in annexure 6, there is a report, “Radio Frquency (RF) Exposure and Human Health”, penned by a company called EMSS (now rebranded to Alphawave).

You would think a report of this nature would be prepared by medical specialists or electromagnetic field (EMF) researchers, but EMSS has none of these – they are cell-industry experts and are in the business of selling products related to the cell industry.

They list their key clients as Vodacom, MTN, Huawei and Ericsson (among others).

This is a serious and untenable conflict of interest – they are highly unlikely to highlight any health concerns related to cell masts.

How could the City choose a company with such a conflict of interest to pronounce on the health risks of cell masts? Because of this conflict of interest, their report is not worth the paper it’s written on and can be ignored as not being credible.

In annexure 7, a Mr LL Du Toit, from the national Department of Health (DOH) claims there are no health risks and quotes the International Commission of Non-Ionising Radiation Protection (ICNIRP), an independent NGO that the World Health Organisation (WHO) depends on to study available research on the health risks and to formulate guidelines for safe levels of exposure to EMF emissions.

The problem is that this mirrors exactly the same situation as we have here in South Africa, where industry-linked companies are pronouncing on the risks to human health.

The ICNIRP is also an industry-loyal body that seems more concerned with shielding the industry from criticism than with protecting citizens’ health.

Its board is stacked with people who have a serious conflict of interest, funded by the industry and linked to the industry in some way.

Over the years, many scientists have tried to approach both WHO and ICNIRP to express their concern at the serious risk the current EMF exposure guidelines pose to human health with far-reaching consequences.

They have been stonewalled.

It is quite clear, even to a casual observer like myself, that ICNIRP’s information is no longer credible and cannot be relied on – it is definitely not looking out for our best interests.

There have been numerous scientist appeals to the ICNIRP – the most publicised being the International EMF Scientists Appeal – all to no avail.

These conflicts of interest are documented in the following report:

The strategy ICNIRP follows is alarmingly similar to that followed by the tobacco industry for decades before they were forced to come clean.

The same will happen with the cell industry.

It should be abundantly clear to everyone that our elected representatives are not representing us. They have been captured by industry and dance to their tune at our expense.

We are on our own -if our government is not with us on this, they are against us.

All we are asking for is a thorough review of all available research to come to an informed decision. Is that unreasonable? Please register at to force our government to take our concerns regarding the health risks of cell masts seriously.

Marnus van Wyk, director of Alphawave responds: Human safety related to exposure to electromagnetic fields has been a research topic for many decades.

Since the early 1990s mobile-phone technologies have been a focus point. Based on this research, international limits have been established for human exposure.

The ICNIRP guidelines are the most commonly used guidelines internationally.

These ICNIRP guidelines are used in South Africa and more than 100 countries internationally.

Research is continuing, and the latest research is regularly reviewed by international expert bodies.

The current general consensus is that the guidelines are sufficient to protect against any negative health effects.

By the way, one such a review of the latest research and guidelines is currently under way by ICNIRP and the draft document has just been released last week for public comment.

Alphawave (formerly known as EMSS) is a technology group based in Stellenbosch, specializing in electronics and software. For more than 20 years, one of the Alphawave divisions has been focusing on electromagnetic safety.

By attending and presenting our work at international conferences, such as the recent BioEM2018 conference, Alphawave stays up to date with the international developments in this field.

Senior staff, with post-graduate degrees in electromagnetic engineering, are also actively involved in international measurement standards committees, ensuring that the work we perform in South Africa is of the highest standard.

Alphawave assesses an installation, such as a mobile network base station, in terms of the ICNIRP guidelines, to ensure it meets the requirements.

During the assessment, the maximum transmission from the installation is considered while assessing the exposure of the public around the installation.

The level of electromagnetic exposure in all publicly accessible areas must be below the threshold set for the public by ICNIRP.

Over the past 20 years, Alphawave has assessed thousands of installations for electromagnetic exposure. In general, the exposure for the public from mobile network base stations is well below the ICNIRP guidelines.

So, the public can rest assured knowing that international guidelines exist for electromagnetic exposure and programmes are in place in South Africa to ensure compliance with these guidelines.

City spokesman Luthando Tyhalibongo, responds: In the drafting of the City’s Telecommunication Mast Infrastructure policy, the City sought out independent experts in the field of cellular telecommunications who were not in the direct employ of the cellular communication industry and who had in-depth, expert knowledge of the subject.

Availability of such expertise is limited and as Enhanced Mobile Satellite Services (EMSS) were independent consultants, they were contracted to assist the City with formulating the information in Annexure 6.

The information they have provided in the annexure explains the mechanisms and pathways of radiation exposure in a language that is easy to understand by the layman.

The City’s own technical EMF exposure measurements in the areas around base stations have further confirmed that the exposure levels in the immediate vicinity of the base station and mast are generally a fraction of the ICNIRP public exposure guidelines.

The City of Cape Town will continue to take its guidance from the WHO and the national Department of Health – which is the legally mandated authority for regulating public exposure to radiation in South Africa.

Lastly, all evidence points to the fact that the most significant exposure to cellular EMF comes from the handset and not the mast.

Here, the public need to make up their own minds as to how they and their families use their devices.

The City would, however, encourage parents to ensure that especially young children, whose brains and bodies are still developing, do not have unfettered access to cellular handsets or be permitted to talk for any extended period of time on a cellular handset.

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