In These New Times

A new paradigm for a post-imperial world

Cell phone health concerns continue to spread

Posted by seumasach on March 12, 2009

10th March, 2009
Humans are not the only ones affected by cell towers. This tree in front of Kaslo's tower is not taking it very well. (Photo: Mi Kai Lee)

Humans are not the only ones affected by cell towers. This tree in front of Kaslo’s downtown tower is not taking it very well. (Photo: Mi Kai Lee)

A court in France has ordered the dismantling of a cell phone mast based on the ‘precautionary principle’ because there is insufficient proof that cell phones are harmless. The suit was initiated by residents in the vicinity of the tower against cell phone company Bouygues Telecom. Following the judgements of the Nanterre TGI (District Court) and the Versailles Appeal Court  Bouygues Telecom began dismantling its phone mast  in the early morning of March 6, 2009.

The Columbia Valley can consider itself blessed that fibre is coming to town. High-speed fibre-optic Internet connections can also be used for voice over IP phone services, such as Skype, and for video conferencing like Webex. The existence of fibre in the valley will in many cases eliminate the need for wireless Internet and the accompanying radio-frequency pollution.

Residents of the Slocan Valley in West Kootenay are not so fortunate. But local activists fought and won a struggle to keep Telus from installing cell phone towers in the Slocan. They now keep a constant watch on the CBC tower on Red Mountain for any future installation activity by Telus. The Valhalla Wilderness Society was a major contributor to the Slocan’s success. Many took up the cause after local politician Colleen McCrory died of brain cancer, which the community attributed to her cell phone use.

On September 24, 2007 the chairperson of the Valhalla Committee for Environmental Health, Richard Caniell, wrote this to Telus:

“At 12:00 noon this date on the CBC radio you were heard once again in
your tape-loop assertion that you couldn’t understand why there was
any opposition in New Denver to the Telus cell phone transmitter
installation as cell phone towers were safe and many studies had
shown this. Be advised, this is false, and a knowing deception as you
have been repeatedly shown the existence of adverse scientific
reports which you find it advantageous to pooh-pooh.

“Take notice that this letter and the one copied below, the former
previously sent to Steve Jenkins, Brock Enderton, Health Canada and
others, sets forth the substantive factors connected to health
hazards and potential fatalities about which you can no longer deny
knowledge. Any further claims you make as aforesaid, which have been
repeated by you through the last weeks after your superiors were put
on notice as to the adverse reports, will make you a central figure
in ongoing misrepresentation.

“It does not behoove anyone in your position to continue being blind
and deaf to factors which may seriously impact the public health and
especially that of children. Telus does not escape potential
liability, or the public impact of refusing to implement
precautionary principles, because it relies on Health Canada. Telus
is indisputably apprised of the adverse science (as reflected in the
letter copied below, sent to Steve Jenkins and others). Your
continuance with your deceptive, self-serving statements to
promulgate your product in the face of this represents a wanton
disregard of the health hazards which may impact persons here; a fact
which may greatly contribute to your company’s liability and that of
your own.”

In 2007 Germany declared that cell phone usage is hazardous to humans.

The BioInitiative Report published in September 2007 by the University of Albany, New York brings together extensive findings by medical doctors and research scientists from the US, Sweden, Denmark, Austria, China and the UK.

Valhalla highlighted this from the report:

The report states, in connection with wireless devices (cell phones), “there is enough evidence of increased risk of brain tumors to warrant intervention with respect to their use . . . good public health policy requires preventative action.” An important section in the Report sets forth substantive evidence that transmitter radiation is particularly harmful to children and teenagers. The result especially noted by research in other countries is childhood leukemia.

Research published by Professors Mild and Hardell of Orebro University, Sweden, in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine, identified 1,429 people living in central Sweden identified with brain tumours in a 2 and 1/2 year period. Those who live in a rural area and used cell phones had a 56% greater likelihood to have been diagnosed with a brain tumour over city users. For those using cell phones for 5 years the rural user’s risk was four times greater. [from Valhalla]

Professor Mild, who is a biologist at Orebro University, states “Mobile phones can use up to 1,000 times more power when they are far away from a base station.” Those using cell phones in rural areas at a distance from the transmitter “absorb far more energy from the handset.”

Valhalla criticizes Health Canada, who have taken the stand that cell phone radiation is harmless, despite strong evidence of health risks.

The Precautionary Principle is increasingly recognized by law courts and governments world-wide. This safeguard is a moral and political principle which states that “if an action or policy might cause severe or irreversible harm to the public, in the absence of a scientific consensus that harm would not ensue, the burden of proof falls on those who would advocate taking the action”. This principle was adopted by the European Union and other nations.

The EU version states that “preventative action should be taken and damage should, as a priority, be rectified at the source and that the polluter should pay.” Telus does not escape responsibility for its actions simply because they rely on Health Canada, as effective notice of extensive adverse science showing health hazard has been given to them directly, and they are the active parties.

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