Cyprus: "Alarm Bells of Radiation Threat"

I'm sending along this article which has been forwarded to me.

Best, Imelda, Cork.

CYPRUS MAIL Friday, April 8, 2005

Alarm bells of radiation threat

by Jean Christou

A PHYSICS professor at the University of Cyprus has warned that safety limits for electromagnetic radiation may be too high, following a two and a half year study of electrical emissions around the island.

Dr Panos Razis, who presented his findings at a lecture on Wednesday night in Nicosia, told the Cyprus Mail yesterday that although most emissions in Cyprus were within set safety limits, other countries were reducing their limits as studies into the long-term effects were starting to emerge.

Razis said the Cyprus study honed on what the team had called 'problems areas' such as Polemidhia and Lakatamia, where people have reported cancer clusters, particularly in childhood leukaemia. He said in both areas the readings were within the set limits but this did not mean the emissions were not responsible.

"The safety limits that have been adopted are under constant modification in several countries and are becoming lower and lower!," Razis said.

He said the reason was because initial studies had been looking at the short-term effects only, such as muscular phenomena.

"But how it influences biological molecules like DNA and RNA... research is not advanced in that area. So if one considers what might happen on a long-term basis one has to be cautious not to have houses and schools very close to such infrastructure because science at the moment cannot say it is currently 100 per cent harmless. We cannot say that. It still needs a lot of investigation. Decades ago they could not tell that smoking causes cancer," Razis said.

Razis said international studies had shown that children exposed to over 0.4 microtesla of electromagnetic radiation had double the risk of getting leukaemia. "The safety limit is at 100 microtesla," said Razis. "This was a real worry factor because if there are problems at 0.4 microtesla or even if there is an indication of problems but no proof, it is still worrying. ! It seems this was not a statistical fluctuation."

Razis said the study team had found children's bedrooms in some places in Latsia were only three metres away from outside pylons and electrical wires.

"We were getting relatively high readings but not higher than the safety levels set by the EU. But we also know that many countries are reducing these safety levels," he said.

Razis said there were also apartment buildings in Nicosia where residents were exposed to electromagnetic radiation the equivalent of watching television close-up for 24 hours non-stop.

"Again the levels were lower than safety limits but as a scientist one has to be relatively careful," he said, adding that electromagnetic radiation did not affect everyone in the same way, and some people not at all. "It's a matter of resistance of our molecules to such things," he said. "What the scientific community is trying to establish is whether humans have a certain threshold, because electromagnetic radiation has a cumulative effect. It's different for every person but children may be more susceptible. Their findings are different from the adults because their immunological system is not fully developed."

Another areas of concern Razis established from the study was the fact that people were allowed to build so close to pylons without anyone stopping them. "This should not be allowed right underneath high voltage cables," said Razis. "There is practical rule of thumb that one shouldn't be allowed to build inside a certain distance of about 30 metres from pylons."

He was also concerned about electricity and telecommunications workers on the island, saying they were in many instances exposed much more than the general population, as readings at electricity substations had been quite high.

"Because they are paid more, should they be allowed to be exposed to a higher level of radiation? I don't find this a very logical argument," he said, adding that the state should take responsibility for their protection.

"People who are exposed to higher than normal levels but which are still inside safety limits should be aware that research is still going on. Most in the scientific community don't believe in the current limits because they don't cover the long term effects," Razis said.

Copyright © Cyprus Mail 2005

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