Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Dangers of Cell Phone Usage and Towers

I plan on being a lot more unreachable in the future--not because of a faraway trip I'm taking--but because I attended an event last week about the dangers of cell phone radiation emitted from towers, cellular phones and cordless phones. I have decided to move from wireless to wired communication whenever possible. At the gathering, led by Camilla Rees, founder of ElectromagneticHealth.org, we watched a film called Full Signal which was an overview of the issue of cell phone radiation.

I learned is there is a federal law, pushed forward by the telecom lobby, called the Telecommunications Act of 1996 that prohibits any person from objecting to a cell phone tower because of health reasons.(1) It takes away state and local governments rights to limit towers because of health or environmental law. There is also an assumption that things that are around us have been found to be safe. But that assumption is wrong when it comes to cell phones. There are no studies on the safety of cell phones. The levels that have been determined to be safe were determined by engineers and cell phone companies--not by scientists and medical doctors concerned about health. Basically, cell phones are considered safe if they don't microwave/heat the tissues in your brain. But there is a growing body of evidence that cell phones can cause both single and double DNA breaks. Single DNA breaks can be repaired. Double DNA breaks cannot be repaired. This electromagnetic radiation may be a factor in everything from cancer to autism to infertility.

It sounds quite unbelievable, I know. How could we be living in the midst of such danger? How could a technology which seems so indispensable be such a threat to ourselves and our children?

And it's not just cellular technology that is dangerous. It's also wireless phones that are used as landlines--especially those featuring DECT (Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications.)

I sit here now with pen in hand determined not to put my head in the sand about this one. Of course, I need to connect to post. But do I need to connect all the time? Do I need to connect wirelessly? The answer is no and no.

I can have the phone company come in and wire rooms that don't have telephone jacks in them. I can turn off my router and turn my cell phone on airplane mode whenever possible. I can plug my computer into the modem and forgo wi-fi in my house.

And one bonus of living on the ground floor of an apartment building is that I am far from any cell towers. It is pretty much a cell phone free zone unless you stand close to a window.

The movie, Full Signal, was a little sensationally done with frightening music and less substance than I would have hoped for. But it was eye opening, worth seeing and I think, brings attention to an issue that doesn't get enough attention. The most amazing part of Full Signal was how one town in Israel called Usfiyeh, decided it wanted to ban cell phone towers when a member of the town council figured out that a map of the escalating cancer cases and a map of the cell towers were a perfect match. A rabbi, a priest and a muslim clergy all signed a document saying that cell phone towers were against scripture law--and then they banned all towers from the town and the religious leaders issued a ruling excommunicating anyone who rented space for a cellular antenna. Usfiyeh remains one of the only places in Israel with no cellular coverage.

According to GreenProphet.com:
"Two recent studies, for example, showed that proximity to cell phone towers increases cancer rates. In Germany, data gathered from 1000 patients over a 10-year period found a three-fold increase newly diagnosed cases of those living within 400 meters of the mobile phone tower. There is no heavy industry in the same area or other factors that would account for the increase in cancer rate. They also found that the new cases developed, on average, eight years earlier.

The second study, carried out by Tel Aviv University, found over a four-fold increased risk for cancer for those living within 350 meters of a tower, with 7 out of 8 cases being women." (2)
Of course, the science is very minimal on this issue and until it is we can only play it safe--for ourselves and our children.

(1) http://portland.indymedia.org/en/2009/02/385930.shtml
(2) http://www.greenprophet.com/2009/10/08/12539/nimby-cell-phones-radiation-towers/


Betsy said...

I have long wondered if my cordless phone was bad - now I know it is.

I don't use my cell phone often and my children are forbidden from using it. We moved our router to a part of the house that is not used much and we removed all electronics (other than carbon monoxide detector/smoke detector) from all of our bedrooms. I am going to have to stop relying on my cordless now.

Thanks for all of the information.

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