JOHN O’CONNOR – NEWS EDITOR – MERRITTNEWS.NET
Wireless technology could be harming us, according to some experts. Although Industry and Health Canada say that emissions from sources of wireless technology are safe and within the safety guidelines, some experts disagree.
“The guidelines we have in Canada are so much worst than the rest of the world,” said Associate Professor of Environmental & Resource Studies at Trent University in Ontario Magda Havas. Radio frequency (RF) and electromagnetic fields (EMF) emitted from cellular phone transmission towers and wireless fidelity internet (WiFi) routers are two of the main sources of what some call electro-smog. Telus, who owns a cellular phone tower erected downtown Merritt in 2003, says that emissions from the tower fall well below the guidelines issued by health Canada. “If exposures do not exceed the limits specified in Safety Code 6, then there
is no convincing scientific evidence that any adverse health effects will occur,” said Telus senior communications manager Shawn Hall.
“There’s no science that says standards should be more conservative than they are.” Canada’s limit for emissions is 1000 microwatts (mw) per squared centimetre while in Austria it’s 0.1 mw. Russia has a safety limit of 10 mw. Magdas notes that the Canadian guidelines are set with thermal radiation in mind but ignore non-thermal emissions. “I think the Germans are on to something when they kicked WiFi out of their schools,” said University of Rochester senior engineer Ted Twietmeyer in an interview with the Merritt News.
“You can’t just keep bombarding people with RF and expect nothing to happen.” In 2007, Germany’s environment ministry issued a warning to German citizens to avoid using wireless technology whenever possible because of the health risks it poses. The warning goes on to say that citizens should use landlines instead of cell phones and use conventional wired forms of internet connections as opposed to wireless. A television program aired on the BBC called Panorama, carried out testing of wireless internet in schools and found that levels emitted by wireless networks were three times the level found in the main beam of intensity from cell phone towers. Scientists involved in the BBC investigation believe that safety standards set by governing bodies are too low. Reports of higher cancer rates among those living near cell phone towers have also surfaced in mainstream media outlets in Britain. Magdas believes there is risk for people who are regularly within 400 metres of a cell tower.
In 2003, the Vancouver School Board passed a motion to ban all future cell phone towers from school property over the potential health hazards posed to its students. Ontario’s Lakehead University is another educational institution that has limited WiFi technology over health concerns. The International Firefighters Association has also placed a ban on cell phone towers from fire hall roofs citing dozens of scientificstudies showing a link to cancer and other negative biological effects. An increase in cell growth of brain cancer cells, changes in the protective bloodbrain- barrier, increase strand breaks in DNA, childhood leukemia, changes in sleep patterns, headaches, neurodegenerative diseases, a doubling of the rate of lymphoma in mice, and changes in tumour growth in rats, are just some of the findings of studies associated with the International Firefighter Association’s report on RF and EMF health risks. School district 58 Superintendent Byron Robbie says that the board has looked into the possibility of health effects from WiFi upon introducing the technology to Merritt schools, but didn’t find anything that seemed to be an issue. Despite this, he admits that cell phones are bad for kids. One doctor from the Firefighter’s report, Dr. Stanislaw Szmigielski, has studied thousands of Polish soldiers and found that those exposed to RF and microwave radiation in the workplace had more than
double the cancer rate of the unexposed servicemen analyzing data from 1971-1985. Industry Canada says that if exposures don’t exceed the limits of Safety Code 6 then there is no convincing scientific evidence that any adverse health effects will occur. It admits though that guidelines are open to revision as more information is gathered on the issue. Twietmeyer says a calibrated RF meter should be used to determine the strength of radio frequencies emitted