[LINK] Danger on the airwaves: Is the Wi-Fi revolution a health
stewart_fist at optusnet.com.au
Mon Apr 23 16:14:03 EST 2007
In contradiction to the Sir William Stewart's new concerns about Wi-Fi is
the recent news of the Danish Cancer Registry. The Danes keep a compulsory
record of all kinds of cancers, and this is available to researchers.
Recently a couple of them took a second look a the register and checked it
against mobile phone use (the second time this has been done). The point is
that cellphones have now been widely in use for more than 10 years, and we
know that many cancers take this long to incubate.
So now, for the first time -- we have some meaningful statistics.
They didn't find any correlation between 35,000 cancer sufferers and their
cellphone use (some users going back 15 years with the high-powered analog).
They looked at a wide range of cancer types.
None of this 'proves' that EMF is safe, but it certainly indicates that at
cellphone handset transmitter levels, EMF is not biologically destructive to
any serious degree, even cumulatively with substantial usage and constant
exposures over about ten years.
However, the laboratory evidence that has accumulated over these same years
shows pretty conclusively that cellphones can have a biological and/or
functional influence on cells of the body. So this now suggests the
protective mechanisms of the body are capable of handling any adverse
Since exposure to Wi-Fi by a user is tens-of-thousands of times lower than
that of a cellphone antenna up against the side of the head -- and even
lower for non-users in a the vicinity of a base -- then it is difficult to
see how such technologies would be a concern, if cellphones haven't yet
shown any confirmable indications of danger.
Even allowing for the possibility that children are much more susceptible
than adults (which no one has yet proved to be the case), we are still
dealing with enormous differences in the experienced power-densities just
from lower transmission powers and the operations of the inverse square-law.
Most of the popular power-density meters have trouble registering anything
at all a metre or two away from a Wi-fi cell station.
I have every respect for Sir William Stewart, but it's hard to see why
anyone would concentrate on Wi-Fi when cellphone handsets and towers are so
The other stuff in this article can be largely discounted:
> A recent authoritative Finnish study has found that people who have used
> mobiles for more than ten years are 40 per cent more likely to get a
> brain tumour on the same side of the head as they hold their handset;
> Swedish research suggests that the risk is almost four times as great.
There is nothing "authoritative" about the Finnish or Swedish studies. They
are just two of many -- and I have serious doubts about any 'side-of-head'
claims. People use their phones on both sides, constantly. There is no
evidence that EMF "kills off brain cells" or that they create senility. This
is just scaremongering.
> And further research from Sweden claims that the radiation kills off
> brain cells, which could lead to today's younger generation going senile
> in their forties and fifties.
Professor Salford has shown that EMF can lower the blocking-power
surrounding the brain (the blood-brain-barrier) which in a beach, might lead
to brain-cell damage -- but, to my knowledge, no one has ever found such
damage. Other things also cause breaching of the blood-brain barrier.
And the claim that we are
> living in a soup of electromagnetic radiation one billion times
> stronger than the natural fields in which living cells have developed
> over the last 3.8 billion years.
is pure speculation based on no evidence at all - with figures plucked out
of the ether. We are also exposed to billions of times more artificial
light. So what.
And the idea of solving the problems by:
> publicising the radiation levels of different handsets so that
> customers could choose the lowest;
just makes no sense, since the power output of the handset is set by the
base-station controls automatically. All this would do is to curb the range
in which they can operate an leave dead spots in the coverage area.
Even less useful, unfortunately, is the recommendation about;
> making the erection of phone masts subject to democratic control through the
> planning system;
because the best way to lower the power output of the handsets, is to have
many low-power cellphone base-stations everywhere (like WiFi) so that only
low output powers are needed to cover the distance back to a base-station.
If we all voted on the siting of cellphone towers, NIMBY would operate, and
there would probably only be one on top of Sydney's Centerpoint Tower - and
you'd need a 100 Watts of handset power to reach it and a few more GigaHertz
of bandwidth for meaningful capacity.
The Stewart Report recommended sensible precautions. It makes sense to
apply some of them for at least another decade (and this hasn't been done),
but evidence that cellphones are probably safe appears to be gradually
The politicians have managed to get away with, what amount to, the world's
most convincing epidemiological study by just giving the cellphone companies
free reign, and seeing what happens. So far, that is 'nothing'. However,
it could easily have been a catastrophe.
Stewart Fist, writer, journalist, film-maker
70 Middle Harbour Road, LINDFIELD, 2070, NSW, Australia
Ph +61 (2) 9416 7458
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