Making Waves – Conflict sizzles over cell towers

Harrison Hot Springs British Columbia Canada

by Trudy Beyak for The Progress

November 15, 1998

“The best place to locate a microwave tower is in a Cemetery.”  

Ministry says no cause for concern.

That comment from Bob Riedlinger sums up his belief that invisible pollutants from microwave emissions are threatening human health.

He bought his dream retirement home in 1995 on Pine Street in Harrison Hot Springs, located about 400 feet from a cellular tower.

“We though we had the world in our hand when we bought our dream house,” says Mr. Riedlinger.  But he moved out a year later because of the unbearable microwave emissions from the cellular tower, he said.

“I was essentially microwaved 24 hours a day to the point of illness,” says Mr. Riedlinger.   His doctor though Mr. Riedlinger had tinnitus, but the diagnosis didn’t make sense to him.

He says he always felt better when he returned to his Mission property.  Yet when he stayed in his house at Harrison he felt like he was going crazy because of a continual drone similar to the buzzing bees.

He would feel sick beyond description. Restless sleep.  Insomnia. Pressure headaches. Fatigue.  Tingling in the sensitive areas of his body.  Aching bones. Dry throat and gas in his stomach.

He believes that cell tower emissions are responsible for his nightmare.  “Going there was like a spell in hell,”  Sounds were amplified in his house.  Water running from a tap, for example, sounded like breaking glass to him.  He met with a scientist David Lacey at the Domion Radio Astrophysical Observatory in Penticton, who found that Mr. Riedlinger experienced relief in an isolation booth lined with microwave-absorbent aluminum foam rubber.

When he found out that microwaves can’t penetrate aluminum or screens made of copper, brass or bronze, Mr. Riedlinger became inventive.  He nailed sheets of metal on the roof and walls of his house and built an aluminum box to calm his nerves.   Neighbours may have thought Mr. Riedlinger had flipped out, but he was desperate.

He also sewed together a headband with aluminum foil between the material to cover his ears with traveling in a car, especially near cell towers.

“Microwave emissions are vibrating our nervous system all the time.  It’s the deadliest thing and most people don’t even notice it,”says Mr. Riedlinger.    He is currently so  sensitive to microwave emissions that he feels nauseous whenever he travels anywhere near a cell tower.

Randy Ross, radiation protection officer from the Ministry of Health, told Mr. Riedlinger that are no health hazards from the electromagnetic fields near his house.

Mr. Riedlinger, however, questions the validity of the tests.   The provincial government doesn’t even have a spectrum analyzer to test emissions.  Its relies on the telephone company tests, says Mr. Riedlinger.

“That’s like having the fox guarding the chicken coop,” says Mr. Riedlinger.  “What really bothers me is that babies with their tender little nervous systems are being exposed to this.  It’s dastardly.”

He has started an orginization called The Society To Reduce Electromagnetic Smog Sensitivity (STRESS). Several dozen Fraser Valley residents are starting to complain of similar unusual symptoms.  Les Buckle lives 400 feet from a cell tower near Stave Lake Road in Mission.  He says the radiaton from a tower is causing him to suffer headaches, nausea, stomach gas and a buzzing sound in his ears.

“Its impossible to get to sleep due to the buzzing.  I am afraid that if this keeps up I will have permanent health damage and I’m concerned about what its doing to other people” say Mr. Buckle.

Mr. Riedlinger and Buckle have written numerous letters of complaints to provincial and federal politicians and heath ministers, without satisfaction.

Mr. Riedlinger is also starting to make public waves, doing interviews for newspapers, television and radio.  “I’m not hear on this earth for that much longer, but I’ll devote every day for the rest of my life to fight this.”

Questions being raised about cellular safety

Cell phones have become one of man’s closest allies, whether people are driving down the highway in rush-hour traffic, swinging at the golf course or eating in a restaurant.  Questions are being raised about heath effects.  Microwave frequency above 15 Mhz is known to be biological active, able to penetrate through entire human body, causing electrical and thermal effects.

Some international medical research studies on cellular towers and phone implicate adverse health problems from nervous disorders to disruption of the circadian (sleep) rhythms.  According to Dr. Neil Cherry, director of the climate research unit at Lincoln University in New Zealand, microwaves are “contaminates.”  Dr. Cherry noted that microwave exposure may be linked to miscarriages, childhood cancers, testicular cancers and brain effects.  Children are especially vulnerable, he said.

Chinese studies set a minimum safety exposure at 500 metres.  And bio-electromagnetic scientist Roger Coghil in London, England is demanding that cell phones carry a health warning with potential links to health problems, ranging from headaches to brain tumours.  Residents near a shortwave transmitter in Schwarzenburg, Switzerland complained about ill health for 20 years.

About 400 people participated in an epidemiologiv study which found that insomnia, weakness nervousness, joint an limb pains, disturbed concentration, heart palpitations, headaches and dizziness were more frequent within 1.5 kilometres of a transmitter.

But B.C. Minister of Health radiation expert Randy Ross said many of these particular studies are flawed and the results have not been replicated.

Comminication Highway has not spot checks

No one is routinely monitoring the radiation emitted from cellular towers.  Concerned people like Bob Riedlinger are upset about that fact, but telephone companies, radiation experts and Industry Canada specialists say the technology is safe and spot-checks are unnecessary.  All cellular communication companies need a licence from Industry Canada to operate, based on the telephone companies’ calculations of power emissions.

The problem, according to Mr. Riedlinger, is that no one is spot-checking the emission s and the companies are in charge of doing their own monitoring.  He thinks that’s wrong.  Industry Canada, however, says doing routine spot-checks are virtually pointless.

The emissions typically radiated from the telephone cellular sites are hundreds to thousands of times lower then the guidelines set in Health Canada’s Safety Code 6, said Wayne Choi, spokesman for Industry Canada.

Since the early 19809’s, people have become increasingly concerned about rapidly changing technology.  To address those worries, the Royal Society of Canada has appointed a panel of medical experts and scientists to review the potential health risks.  A report will be submitted to Health Canada in March 1999.

Cellular telephones operate at radio signals between 860 and 900 Mhz in Canada, near the AM / FM radio bands — often called the microwave portion in the electromagnetic spectrum.  Personal communication service are now in the 2 GHz frequency range and wireless networks operate in the 5 GHz range.

Exposure limits in the frequency range from 10 kHz to 300 GHz are published in Health Canada’s Code Safety 6.

Radiation expert Randy Ross says the frequencies are fairly simple to understand.  A hertz equals one cycle per second; a kilohertz (kHz) equals 1,000 cycles per second; a megahertz (MHz) equals a million cycles per second; and a gigahertz (GHz) equals 1,000 million cycles per second, says Mr. Randy Ross.

A microwave station consists of an array of cellular antennas, radio transmitters and receivers, and electronic switching equipment.  Connections to the outside network are made through a microwave radio link using a dish antenna.