In the UK and at prime time on BBC1 their flagship serious documentary programme PANORAMA recently (May 21 8.30) raised the issue of health risks from information carrying radiowaves. More specifically it focused on WiFi being installed in schools where children are compulsorily exposed to levels far in excess of spending hours in the main beam of a transmitting mast.
Full acknowledgement was made that it was still well below the ICNIRP international, but industry set, guidelines, and the power levels required for thermal heating of the body with the known damage that causes. Unusually in this debate this programme went a further step and examined whether there was any cause for concern at these lower than thermal (the only safety) levels. Distinguished researchers and scientists from Austria (Oberfeld) Sweden (Johansson) and the USA (Lai) were wheeled on and though some admitted there was science illustrating both sides of the debate, all agreed there were serious effects already sufficiently well established to properly mean a proportionate precautionary response.
In Austria not only are masts banned from proximity to schools but the mini-masts, which is effectively what WiFi is, were banned from use inside schools as threatening children’s health. More damningly still, chief UK government scientific advisor on this issue, author of the MTHR safety report 2000 on mobile phones, and head of the UK Health Protection Agency Sir William Stewart, with a careful choice of words, judiciously considered it was "timely" for a delay in the rush for WiFi while investigations were made.
Future health possibilities were a major concern for him, for children have special vulnerabilities due to skull size and thickness, not fully formed immune systems and anticipating much higher life-long exposures due to starting earlier and spending much more time in more highly charged electrospheres than previous generations.
All in all this programme, only the tip of the iceberg of a blizzard of complaints and criticisms of variable scientific provenance, (such as anti-mast groups) deserves a measured and level-headed response worthy of the issue and the millions now tied up in the industry. It cannot be brushed aside, and especially not by the near hysterical OTT mouthings on blog spaces such as that of Badscience knocker Dr Ben Goldacre. Perusal of internet sites such as his and others with their alarming array of ranting and raving irrationality is guaranteed to send any neutrally objective observer into the arms of the ‘precautioners’. This Panorama programme is already arousing interest from US news organisations and must be met with a rational measured non-emotional response as it goes international.
Now is the time solid research should be brought forward for examination, in the past, the cellphone industry at least has claimed “there are thousands of studies” showing microwave technology is safe (see Dr George Carlo) but this was exposed as foolish wishful thinking and only damaged credibility. So without boastfulness, but as is now required, a responsible technology using industry concerned about legitimate questioning on safety grounds, at the very least a public relations and PR disaster potentially, must produce its evidence that there is no cause for concern.
As the support charity ES-UK for those who describe themselves as specially sensitive to the health effects of these wonderfully useful new communications we have no wish to make unjustified or unwarranted mere assertions about health risks. We would enjoy the opportunity to examine any science and present it for consideration by our sufferers. It might disabuse them of some of their beliefs and fears.
Further, we would welcome a more considered response to their ‘personal stories’ or case studies. When these are presented to supposedly scientific commentators, like the columnist mentioned above among others, they are ignored. This is distressing and painful, devaluing the individual's real life experience.
So often is the word ‘only’ inserted in front of ‘anecdotal’ evidence, sight is lost of the fact it is still evidence. It occupies a special place in scientific reasoning right at the commencement of an inquiry. First problems are raised, and questions become formulated out of these anomalous situations demanding explanation, and which won’t go away. It might be the genius of Newton asking “But why does the apple fall downwards?” or Maxwell pursuing where his mathematical questions were leading him and showing the modern possibilities for harnessing electromagnetism for human endeavours. It can also be Brian Stein with the personal experience of fourteen trouble-free years of mobile phone use before his world changed for ever. It ill behoves so-called scientific commentators like Goldacre to ignore this primary, first level of science, there are facts here to be reckoned with, put under their noses, no good scientist worthy of the name ignores any evidence, not properly first person anecdotal, nor when we have 400 cases, 50 published on our website. In Sweden their 400 'anecdotal' cases, also published on our site, as 'Black and White' inspired official recognition of EHS as a 'functional impairment'.
What has the industry to be afraid of? We are confident of its harmlessness say many in it, so now is the time for it to meet the questions raised by Panorama head on. Argue the science or suffer the consequences of a rising tide of health objectors while out marketing, plus the ignominy of recklessly endangering children's health.
ElectroSensitivity-UK (registered charity 1103018) helping the vulnerable minority with ‘radiation sickness’, and reacting with health problems to electromagnetic fields, microwaves, RF etc. all 'electrosmog'.
Rod Read M.Phil.,(Cantab), Dip Psych Couns., Cert.Ed.director. Please support us with a donation, (£15 p.a. min.) our only income, to ES-UK as below. We welcome help from scientists, doctors and health experts in understanding causes and links, diagnosis and treatments. Also all media inquiries, personal accounts of ES in your life, info on what helps and e-mail addresses where possible. ES-UK Office, Bury Lane, Sutton, Ely, Cambs, CB6 2BB. Tel: 01353-778151 or at http://www.electrosensitivity.org.uk
also by e-mail at electrosensitivity @hotmail.com
Trustees: Professor of Human Radiation Effects Dr Denis Henshaw, Dr David Dowson MD., ChB, Jean Philips BA. Scientific advice from: http://www.powerwatch.org.uk
, Keith Jamieson Dip.AAS. Bsc(Hons) RIBA. Inst.Ph., Environmental Consultant and others. Visit http://www.tetrawatch.net