The city's board of supervisors recently voted to require cell phone retailers to show how much radiation their phones emit. In response, the wireless industry's trade association, the CTIA, has cancelled its annual, SF-based trade show.
“... this notion of the hidden impacts of technology seems to be one that is steadily moving to the forefront. Fears about cell phone radiation are enduring and widespread ...
And there are signs that these kinds of concerns could expand beyond cell phones: There is currently a movement afoot that is questioning the safety of smart meters for their radiation emissions, and other gadgets in our increasingly wireless world could certainly come under scrutiny.”
I recently wrote about San Francisco’s bold move to become the first city in the US to require SAR values to be displayed by retailers of cell phones. Unfortunately for San Francisco, the wireless industry swiftly struck back by announcing that this will be the last year the city will host the CTIA’s annual trade show.
Greenbiz quotes CTIA Vice President of Public Affairs, John Walls, as saying:
"Rather than inform, the ordinance will potentially mislead consumers with point of sale requirements suggesting that some phones are 'safer' than others based on radiofrequency (RF) emissions.
We are disappointed to announce that the 2010 CTIA Enterprise and Applications show in October will be the last one we have in San Francisco for the foreseeable future."
A Reminder Regarding the Limited Safety Factor of Your Phone’s SAR Value
I want to take this opportunity to remind you that although knowing your phone’s SAR value is a good first step, it is by no means an absolute measure of safety.
The SAR value is simply a measure of the power of your cell phone and its potential for heating your tissues. Values vary from one model to the next, starting around 0.2 watts, but the maximum allowable SAR rate is 1.6 watts per kilogram for phones sold in the US. This guideline is based on the exposure from a six minute phone call.
However, as Camilla Rees, founder of ElectromagneticHealth.org explains:
"The cell phone SAR value does not accurately reflect the potential for biological harm from the frequencies of the communication, and, very importantly, there are also some biological effects that have been shown to be worse at lower SAR values compared to higher SAR values, such as blood brain barrier permeability.”
It’s important to realize that you simply cannot rely on the SAR value alone, but rather that safety is dependent on how you use your cell phone. That is why the San Francisco legislation ALSO requires education about cell phone risks at the point-of-sale.
Educational materials must “inform customers of actions that can be taken by cell phone users to minimize exposure to radiation, such as turning off cell phones when not in use, using a headset or speaker phone and texting.” (Lines 15-17 of the final legislation)
The most dangerous manner of use is to place the phone against your head.
The best way to decrease your exposure to radiation is to use either the speaker phone or a safe headset when speaking on the phone, and to keep your phone as far away from your body as possible whenever it is on. You should never carry your phone in your shirt pocket or on your belt, for example.
“Many people do not realize that cell phone manuals themselves, in the small print, say you should not place the phone against your head, but keep it approximately ½" to 1" away from your head,” Rees says.
“This important message is still not getting across to people with all the focus on the SAR value."
Several cell phone manuals are posted at the Environmental Health Trust where you can read the fine print.
The Motorola manual listed there, for example, says, “Keep the mobile device and its antenna at least 2.5 centimeters (1 inch) from your body when transmitting.”The iPhone manual is calling for a distance of at least 15mm (5/8”). See excerpt below:
In addition, the amount of time you spend talking on your cell phone will influence your level of “safety,” far more so than the SAR value of your phone.
Green IT is Becoming a Necessity
But perhaps what the wireless industry is really worried about is that they, too, see the trend toward increased concern about the safety of wireless gadgets in general. Even more worrisome, I’m sure, is the future potential for stringent safety regulations across the board on all transmitting technologies.
That would surely impact their bottom line far more than one brand of phone being perceived as safer over another due to the phones being labeled with SAR ratings.
And that day may be coming. On June 30, 2010, weeks after the San Francisco cell phone legislation, Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) announced a new bill calling for a national research program on cell phones and health.
He is also calling for radiation warnings on cell phones, similar to San Francisco, and an update of decades old safety guidelines for microwave radiation, the form of radiation emitted by cell phones.
The United States once had the finest bioelectromagnetics lab in the world in its Enviromental Protection Agency, but its research and monitoring activities were shuttered prior to the Telecommunications Act of 1996 and many studies conducted there have still not seen the light of day.
A major national research program would seem in order, given there are 285 million cell phone users in the United States today and wireless technologies are proliferating in our homes, offices and schools.
I also recently commented on the moratorium on the installation of wireless utility SmartMeters, and Greenbiz confirmed that “there’s a movement afoot that is questioning the safety of smart meters for their radiation emissions.”
While the San Francisco moratorium was intended to address faulty utility meters and resulting higher utility costs for consumers, there is no question health concerns about the new radiation-emitting meters are on the minds of many, with health advocates actively fighting Smart Meter installations in Marin and Sonoma counties.
And in Boulder, CO, intended to become the first “Smart Grid City’, real questions are being asked by citizens about the city’s energy future. In a recent interview on KGNU (88.5 FM, 1390 AM), Camilla Rees of ElectromagneticHealth.org, along with B. Blake Levitt and Duncan Campbell, Esq., addressed the need for more economical, health-promoting and socially responsible alternatives to Smart Grids.
I believe we’ll start seeing and hearing more about these issues as time goes on. Because just as the tobacco industry was able to keep consumers in the dark for decades after medical science had determined cigarettes caused cancer, the wireless and utility industries are playing the same deceptive game, ignoring the science showing that radiofrequencies do cause serious harm.
“It's certainly a conceptual stretch at this point, if concerns about radiation from electronics takes root, I could envision a concerned citizen measuring the levels in your average data center and raising red flags about impacts on IT workers and employees in tech-heavy buildings.”
In my opinion this is not a conceptual stretch at all. And indeed, we must raise red flags about the health impacts on IT workers and employees in tech-heavy buildings. We must also start paying attention to the health impact this technology has on private citizens living in radiation-soaked environments and children going to school near cell phone towers, for example.
I believe “green IT” is something we need to strive towards, not fight against, if we are to save ourselves from needless pain and suffering and potentialy premature death.
Of note is a very important study by epidemiologist Sam Milham, MD, “Historical evidence that electrification caused the 20th century epidemic of ‘diseases of civilization”, published in Medical Hypotheses last August.
Analyzing health demographic data going back to the early part of the 20th century, Dr. Milham shows that populations without electrification experienced less disease than in urban areas with electrification, and that rural death rates correlated with levels of electrical service for most causes examined. Conditions linked to electrification included cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes and suicide.
Camilla Rees of ElectromagneticHealth.org says,
“Dr. Milham’s work suggests society may have overlooked one of the most important underlying root causes of illness.
The health sector’s focus on lifestyle, chemical pollutants, genetics and the like, may have missed the role of every day electromagnetic fields from electrification.
It is now clear we must assess all sources of electromagnetic radiation in our midst, not just wireless communication technologies, but also electric and magnetic fields, and high frequency transients on electrical wiring, known as “dirty electricity”.
“The explosive recent increase in radio-frequency radiation and high frequency transients sources, from cell phones and towers, terrestrial antennas, Wi-Fi and Wi-Max telecommunication systems, broadband internet over power lines, and personal electronic equipment may be leading to a new 21st Century epidemic much like the 20th Century electromagnetic field epidemic.”
Dr. Milham will be coming out soon with a major contribution to our understanding of this subject in a book, “Dirty Electricity”.
According to Rees,
"High electronics environments, and electrical circuits connected to Compact Fluorescent Bulbs, all contribute to increasing levels of dirty electricity in our midst, and dirty electricity has been linked to cancer.
It is important we learn about ways to minimize dirty electricity by using capacitors or filters that neutralize this phenomenon.
Even solar panels create dirty electricity, but most people in the green building industry are focused on energy efficiency for the consumer, not on ways to address the health impacts of these new technologies."
Yes, the green building movement has made wonderful strides toward creating more energy efficient environments, but we also need green buildings, green electronics, green IT and new energy technologies to focus on the health consequences of these technologies, not just on energy efficiency.
“Health consciousness in the green sectors is not happening fast enough. I believe the answer will be found in people learning for themselves how to use meters and figuring out what electromagnetic fields are in their environment, and then educating others.
Unfortunately, knowledgeable local resources are scarce, doctors are not trained in EMF assessment and there is no Big Brother helping at this point. Shortly Stan Hartman and I will commence the ‘EMF Help Blog’ at the Campaign for Radiation Free Schools FaceBook group, () teaching people how to work with meters to assess electromagnetic fields, such as electric, magnetic, radiofrequency, microwave and dirty electricity.
It’s urgent we bring EMF assessment know-how into homes, schools, communities and most certainly into places of employment, as from my own assessments the exposures people are receiving now are of extreme concern.”
People living in most cities and suburbs are literally bathed in a variety of electromagnetic fields, microwave radiation and dirty electricity 24/7. If we refuse to address the potential hazards of this way of life, we may end up with a currently inconceivable health catastrophe on a worldwide scale.
For information on how to protect yourself and your family from excessive exposures to microwave radiation from wireless technologies, please review this previous article.
You can also find microwave, dirty electricity and electric and magnetic field remediation resources at www.emfsafetystore.com.