Dangers of cellphone technology

2015-08-19 06:00

TOTI Conservancy held a meeting last Wednesday to raise awareness about the dangers of cellphone technology. Conservancy chairperson, Laura Taylor said while it is a global problem, most countries are substantially more aware of the problem than South Africa and we are woefully ignorant. For example, most people do not know that cellphone radiation has been classed as a “possibly carcinogenic” Class 2B Carcinogen by the World Health Organisation, or that Wifi is banned in schools in Germany, France, Switzerland and Austria because of its possible health effects on children.

Recent scientific evidence proves that children, teenagers and young people of reproductive age are most vulnerable. According to Taylor, the first microwave radiation research knowledge was developed in the military and was tested on soldiers. The standard that the mobile industry uses to test cellphones is based on the skull of U.S. military personnel and only tests for heating effects of cellphones. The skull of a child is much smaller and much more easily penetrated by microwave radiation, putting them at greater risk to contract brain tumours, cancers and other serious effects such as autistic spectrum disorders.

Two scientific reports compiled by 29 independent scientists and health experts from around the world, one published­ in 2007 and one in 2012, called the Bio-initiative Reports, have presented a few thousand studies reporting bioeffects and adverse health effects of electromagnetic fields (power lines, electrical wiring, appliances and hand-held devices) – and wireless technologies (cell and cordless phones, cell towers, Wifi, wireless laptops, wireless routers, baby monitors, surveillance systems, wireless utility meters (smart meters), etc. Also significant, according to the reports, sperm counts in men are declining and there are possible genetic effects on the sperm as well, due to men carrying cellphones in their pocket, while women carrying cellphones in their bras are vulnerable to breast cancer. Cellphone manuals actually say that you should not place the phone more than two centimetres from the body, but this is not generally known.

Taylor said there has been an alarming increase in cancer throughout the world including South Africa. “In 10 years, the risk factor has literally doubled.”

At the meeting, residents of a block of flats in Doonheights which has many cellphone antennae on the roof, reported having poor health. At the root of the problem is reportedly the fact that cellphone companies pay huge amounts to rent roof space which is used to subsidise levies. Residents who have not yet had adverse health effects therefore accept the towers.

Another concerned citizen said this is the single most important environmental issue in the world today, but that there is some legislation such as Section 24 of the National Environment Management Act and certain sections in the Occupational Health Act that could be used to protect people. However, this would require lengthy court proceedings and it is worth noting that the cellular telecommunications industry is the richest industry in the world currently.

In May a group of 206 international scientists launched an appeal to the UN, UN member states and the World Health Organisation saying “To protect our children, our selves and our ecosystem, we must reduce exposures by establishing more protective guidelines,” and presented a petition which could be downloaded and signed at EMFscientist.org

“The ICNIRP is the only body that regulates the cellphone industry internationally, but we have no environmental regulations in South Africa, only building regulations. While the legally allowed rate in other countries is six or three volts per metre, South Africa allow for the ICNIRP standard of 58 volts per metre (though this is not the actual rate though at which the technology currently operates). Surprisingly cellphones can work at 0,00003 volts per metre, so there is no reason to allow the current strength of signal operating in South Africa,” Taylor said.

So high is the health risks of the cellphone industry that re-insurance companies (companies that back up an industry for claims they may not be able to recover) have refused to insure the cellular telecommunications industry for possible health risks.

There are however, ways in which people can protect themselves:

· Speak on speaker phone or use an earpiece, keep the cellphone away from your ear and your body.

· Never sleep with the phone next to you on or keep it on aeroplane mode.

· Get rid of any cordless phones.

· Insist on using a landline in your office and at home.

· Metal protects you, use metal sisalation in your roof.

· A corrugated iron roof offers good protection.

· Metal paint on walls, metallised glass and metallised fabrics can protect you. In some countries they have made an industry of it.

For further information contact Toti Conservancy on 031 903 1961


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