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Report: ‘Electrosmog’ is an Emerging Public Health Issue

July 6, 2009

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Cell phones, wireless networks, and the developing "smart grid" utility technologies are being hailed as progress for communication and information, but the downside is an emerging public health issue. A report documenting health hazards linked to wireless radiation, called "electrosmog," is landing on desks in Congress this week, issued by the National Institute for Science, Law and Public Policy (NISLAPP).

The document highlights the independent science on acute and chronic health issues linked to exposure to the radiation, and the report authors call for more scrutiny of federal safety guidelines for exposure. Magda Havas, Ph.D., is a co-author of the report and an associate professor of Environmental and Resource Studies at Trent University, Peterborough, Canada. She has been studying this health issue and says the range of potential public health consequences is wide.

"Some people have no sensitivity, others have mild - might develop a slight headache and recover very quickly - and some have debilitating migraines."

Not everyone is convinced that electromagnetic radiation can be linked to health problems. The industry argues that the this type of radiation is not hot enough to cause tissue damage. According to Havas, independent scientists report biological damage is done without the heat.

James Turner, chair of NISLAPP and Citizens for Health, says even when state and local governments have concerns about health effects linked to cell phone towers and Wi-Fi, they cannot do anything about it because the Telecommunications Act of 1996 prevents them from taking action.

"These things need to be in the hands of local communities. So the first thing to do is address changing the Congressional policy that was adopted, cutting the local communities out."

Havas says it is time to explore ways to make the technology safer and reduce cumulative exposure.

"We simply cannot continue increasing our exposure and assume that it's going to have no adverse health effects. Adverse health effects are already being documented."

Havas says compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) are emitters of electrosmog, too. For those who suspect sensitivity, she recommends removing all CFLs in the home and turning off wireless networks for a few days to see if common symptoms such as headaches, fatigue and insomnia are alleviated.

The report, "Public Health SOS: The Shadow Side of the Wireless Revolution," is available at
www.electromagnetichealth.org.

Deb Courson, Public News Service - MA