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Cell phone free and loving it
Malaysia Created: 17 Nov 2014
And a side effect of that radio silence is that Green Bank, population 143, has become a mecca for people who are sick -- literally -- of electromagnetic waves.

In this rural speck of hyper-connected America, it’s easier to hear a cow moo than a cell phone ring.

That’s because Green Bank is home to the world’s most sensitive radio telescope, a device that catches the birth and death of stars and signals so faint they are mere whispers from space.

And, since the electronics of mobile phones and WiFi grids would mess with that delicate task, here technology that’s taken for granted in much of the world is severely restricted or banned outright.

And a side effect of that radio silence is that Green Bank, population 143, has become a mecca for people who are sick — literally — of electromagnetic waves.

They claim the migraines and other ailments they blamed on cell phones go away.

Charles Meckna, 53, is one such refugee. He moved here in July from Nebraska in the Mid-West, fleeing electromagnetic waves he said were making him seriously ill.

For him, the radio telescope is a savior.

“If we happen to lose the radiotelescope, it’s done,” Mecka said, as he built a shed outside his small home in this town 350 kilometers (220 miles) east of Washington, DC.

Green Bank and the area around it in Pocahontas County are in the heart of a so-called “Quiet Zone” declared in 1958 to shield scientists’ super-keen eye on the universe.

Standing 150 meters (500 feet) tall, with a white dish 100 meters (330 feet) in diameter, the telescope operates day and night capturing signals from space.

“We can look at the birth of stars, the death of stars,” said Michael Holstine, business manager at what is formally known as the National Radio Astronomy Laboratory.

“This is the most sensitive radio telescope on the planet,” he said.

It can detect a signal that has the equivalent energy to the impact of one snowflake hitting the ground. But to achieve that, the radio environment has to be hush-hush quiet.

A one-of-a-kind “National Radio Quiet Zone” is observed around the telescope over an area of 33,000 square kilometers (13,000 square miles).

Radio transmissions have to be at a frequency as low as possible.

In a radius of 16 kilometers (10 miles) around the telescope, anything that gives off a radio wave — WiFi, cell phones, TV remote controls or micro-wave ovens — is banned or restricted.

When you are trying to monitor a quasar, for example — super-distant, massive celestial objects that give off tremendous amounts of energy — a cell phone signal is like a loud, bothersome noise, Holstine said.

“A quasar typically gives a signal which is a billionth of a billionth of a billionth of a watt. A cell phone is about two watts,” he said.

“It will completely drown out what the astronomers are trying to receive,” he added.

Electromagnetic hypersensitivity

The bottom line for non-astronomer earthlings is that dozens of people have come here seeking relief from an ailment called electromagnetic hypersensitivity.

A former construction foreman, Meckna now lives with his wife a few miles from the telescope.

He had been sick since the 1990s but took a long time to conclude the culprit was his cell phone.

“I didn’t even make the correlation,” he said, adding that the beginning of his woes his doctor gave him anti-depressants.

He suffered nausea, migraines and irregular heartbeat every time he got near a Wifi source. After two weeks in Green Bank, the headaches went away.

“I feel much better. I can have a life again,” said Meckna.

Still, it is not all gravy. Rather, he feels a bit trapped. “I am a prisoner and I hate it,” he said.

Diane Schou, who also suffered after an antenna was set up near her farm in Iowa, said she was essentially forced to come to Green Bank, her home since 2007.

“There is really no choice — to live here or to live elsewhere and have headaches,” said Schou, who is in her 50s.

Her pain was so awful she spent a time living inside a room built by her husband as a sort of “Faraday cage” — an enclosure built of conductive material, in her case aluminum, that blocks electric fields.

“At least here, I feel I have a future. I can dream what I am going to do. I can invite people over,” said Schou.

But she takes care to use any gadgets in her home with the utmost care.

She has a computer, which is hooked up to her landline phone and “very slow.” She turns it on a few minutes every day to see emails from her husband, who comes to live with her a few months of the year.

Electromagnetic hypersensitivity, a growing source of concern in a world more connected each day, is not formally classified as a disease by the World Health Organization, although it does acknowledge its existence.

Some studies blame electromagnetic waves but others call it a psychosomatic problem.

The WHO says it plans to carry out a formal assessment in 2016 of the risk posed by the world’s billions of cell phones.

Back in Green Bank, at Trent’s, a grocery store and gas station, the absence of cell phones is not a worry.

“We’ve never had cell phones here so I have never missed them,” cashier Betty Mullenax said with a chuckle.

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Source: Free Malaysia Today, 17 Nov 2014

National PTA wants study on telco towers in school
Malaysia Created: 3 Sep 2013
The National Parents and Teachers Association (NPTA) wants the Ministry of Education (MOE) to halt the erection of all telecommunication towers in and around schools until a study is made on the health effects on the children and the community in the vicinity.

Datuk Ali Hasan, who is chairman of NPTA, which represents more than 10,000 PTAs of schools nationwide, said that if there are indeed detrimental health effects due to the erection of telco towers in the vicinity of schools, it would be deemed most improper that parents were not consulted.

"If the study (which we are asking for now) proves that there are indeed health hazards to the children and the community from the electro magnetic radiation from such telco towers, then the ministry of education must scrap the building of such towers completely," said Ali.

The telco towers are being erected under the 1BestariNet, an ambitious project by the MOEto catapult the schools of Malaysia into IT-dom.

Under the project awarded to telecommunications company YTL, there will be high-speed broadband based on 4G technology, with a minimum speed of 4Mbps to 20Mbps, covering 9,889 schools throughout the country. To achieve this, telco towers have to be erected in schools throughout the country.

According to the Education Ministry, in a Parliamentary reply, "as at May 31, 2013, 1,503 1BRIS (1BestariNet Receiver Integrated System) towers have been built and are in operation, while 281 have been built but not yet operational. Fifty-three 1BRIS towers are still under construction".

YTL director Yeoh Seok Hong has also been quoted as saying that the "towers going up at the schools won't just provide wireless Internet connectivity at the school, but in surrounding areas too."

As at June 5, this year, 7,139 schools have already been equipped with 1BestariNet. The cost of the project is RM663 million for a contract lasting two-years and six months beginning January 2012, of which RM463 million or 69% has been disbursed.

Ali, who said he speaks for all parents and teachers, is surprised that the towers have already been built without a study on the implications on the health of communities around it.

When told how much had already been spent to erect the telco towers and that MOE might be reluctant to undertake a study now, Ali said that the cost factor is "immaterial".

"No matter at what cost, the health of our children is our priority. We will send a letter to the MOE to push for them to start the study. It is high time that MOE looks into the health hazard issue rather than the profits from the project," said Ali.

The 1BestariNet project has come under fire from the opposition for being given to YTL without an open tender being called for the project.

Meanwhile, Parent Action Group for Education (PAGE) chairperson Datin Azimah Noor Abdul Rahim said that while she supports a study on the hazards of the telco towers, she also called on the MOE to ensure that the schools need not fork out more money to make it work.

"In my neighbourhood, they have raised these towers. We did ask them, (about the hazards) but then again, dangers are everywhere. We use our handphones although we know that it may cause brain damage, we even give our handphones for our children to play with. We already have Wi-Fi. Yes, I will push for a study but as we do not know enough (of the health hazards of telco towers), for now, we must see it as a necessary evil.

"In the 30 years of education, nothing has changed except for the green board to white board in classrooms. We should then not lose out in technology, but we must protect our children in any way, including data privacy," said Noor Azimah.

She further pointed out that her main worry now is not whether the telco towers pose a health hazard but whether the whole project would be completed fully and not shortchange the schools.

"There is supposed to be complete connectivity but in some schools, it is not. I hope the schools do not have to fork out more money to get that complete connectivity. Also, when the company (YTL) does make money, would the school get any of it? The project should not be about making money," said Noor Azimah.
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Source:, Zakiah Koya, 29 Jul 2013

Group seeking people sensitive to electromagnetic fields
Malaysia Created: 8 Jan 2009
GEORGE TOWN: A Radio Frequency Radiation Sensitive group will be set-up to gather figures on those who are sensitive to electromagnetic fields in another move to protest against the state government’s free state-wide WiFi plan under its Wireless@Penang project.

Its coordinator Dr Thor Teong Gee, a medical doctor said the findings would be submitted to the state government once they had enough people registered with them to show that the situation needed urgent attention.

He said the World Health Organisation (WHO) had acknowledged that there were about 1.5 to 3% of the world population that were vulnerable to the exposure of electromagnetic fields and microwave radiation created by the telecommunication towers, high tension wires and wireless systems.

The sub-group is being set up by the already existing Penang Wireless Campaign group and the Penang Telco Towers Alliance

“We hope people suffering from this sort of condition will come forwards to register as members with the group,’’ he told a press conference on Thursday.

Present at the press conference were a group of people that had their own experiences to share on the sensitivity to the electromagnetic field suffered by them and their family members.

Dr Thor said those interested to join the group could contact him at 04-8661044 or email him at drthortg [-at-]
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Source: The Star, MANJIT KAUR, 08 Jan 2009

More protest WiFi plan
Malaysia Created: 2 Dec 2008
Another group has been formed to raise concerns over Penang Government’s free state-wide WiFi plan under its Wireless@Penang project.

Launched yesterday, the Penang Environmental and Health Con- cerns Awareness Group comprises 10 members.

Its spokesman Ding Thoun Yee said: “We are concerned with the effects of wireless technologies which may harm the human immune system.”

The wireless system’s emissions may also cause cancer, he claimed at a press conference.
Health fears:Group members holding posters protesting the wireless project at the press conference.

He said the state government had ignored the power of the citizens’ choice.

However, when a reporter asked if they had raised their objections at a recent public forum on the issue, they admitted that they did not attend the event which was opened by Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng.

And when another reporter asked if they could provide medical proof on the harmful effects of wireless technologies, they also said they did not have any.

On Nov 13, the Penang Wireless Campaign Group was set up with a similar aim.
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Source: The Star, 26 Nov 2008

NGOs against turning state wireless
Malaysia Created: 21 Nov 2008
The state government’s plan to make Penang a ‘wireless’ state in the next two years is drawing opposition from non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

The Penang Wireless Campaign Group and Penang Telco Towers Campaign Alliances submitted a memorandum to the state government to oppose its wireless@PENANG initiative on Tuesday, calling for the project to be scrutinized again for health risks that might be caused by long-term exposure to electromagnetic transmission of the WiFi and WiMAX services.

Penang Wanita MCA chief Tan Cheng Liang, who also received a copy of the memorandum from the two NGOs, urged the state government to review the project and study research results and other scientific evidence on exposure to electromagnetic transmission before it allowed access points to be installed state wide.

“For WiFi, the exposure to the transmission can be up to a 300m radius from a single access point, while for WiMAX, it is about 50km.

“This is not like using mobile phones that you can put away or turn off when not in use. People will be exposed to the transmissions over long hours continuously,” she said during a press conference.

Tan said the NGOs were concerned about access points being installed in libraries, schools and public places with growing children, pregnant women and elderly citizens.

“The exposure to the transmission can affect the children’s immune systems. It may also cause cancer or other illnesses.

“The wireless plan should be scrapped if it is proven to cause health adversities,” she said.

Tan also said being a CAT (Competency, Accountability and Transparency) state government, it was responsible for ensuring that the project and its possible effects were well studied and all necessary health measures undertaken.

“With the state calling for transparency, we also hope it would live up to its own words in disclosing the contracts and provisions for owners of premises who want to install WiFi and WiMAX access points,” she added.

On Tuesday, state Local Government, Traffic Management and Environment Committee chairman Chow Kon Yeow said the state government would not hesitate to call off its Wireless@Penang project if there were substantial claims to show that there were health risks.
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Source: Malaysia Star, 20 Nov 2008

Penang to continue study on health effects of WiFi
Malaysia Created: 7 Oct 2008
The Penang government will widen its consultations with non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and the public on possible health risks posed by free Internet wireless connections in the state.

A public forum to discuss the issue will be held after the Hari Raya festive period, Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said in a press release on Sunday.

He made the commitment in response to NGO objections to the wireless broadband project, which is aimed at providing free WiFi connection to the entire state within 24 months.

“I have instructed our tech-savvy Member of Parliament Jeff Ooi to organise the forum.

“For public education, we will make available various research papers on radio frequency (RF) radiation that has been wrongly linked to WiFi and WiMAX,” he said, adding that Ooi was Malaysia’s first blogger elected into Parliament and author of a book on the knowledge-based economy.

“We are receptive to public requests for continued consultative and educational sessions with the government pertaining to the implementation of the free Wireless@PENANG project. Public consultation is a continuing process even after a project is announced.

“The state government is ready to cancel and abandon the project if there is scientific proof to show that the health of the people will be adversely affected by the wireless network,” he said.

Lim also said that a World Health Organisation report concluded that the amount of non-ionizing radiation absorbed by a person’s body from a WiFi station is less than one-fifth that received from FM radio and television sets.
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Source: The Star, CHRISTINA CHIN, 05 Oct 2008

Call to review Wi-fi use
Malaysia Created: 3 Oct 2008
Consumers' Association of Penang would like to register its disappointment over Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng’s recent statement that the state government "has found no evidence that the open Wi-fi transmission network planned for the state would pose a health hazard to inhabitants, and will go ahead with the project" (Sept 25).

The state government’s condescending stand and open rejection of public objections to the project is injudicious and ironic, coming from a government that promises equality and justice for all.

Wi-fi, like mobile phones, is an untested technology. It operates similar to mobile phones – which itself, is not a safe technology. At a September testimony before a subcommittee of the US House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Reform, scientists warned that the potential link between mobile phones and brain cancer could be similar to the link between lung cancer and smoking – something tobacco companies took 50 years to recognise.

David Carpenter, director of the Institute of Health and Environment at the University of Albany, one of the scientists who testified, said: "Precaution is warranted even in absence of absolutely final evidence concerning the magnitude of the risk." Society "must not repeat the situation we had with the relationship between smoking and lung cancer where we waited until every ‘i’ was dotted and ‘t’ was crossed before warnings were issued."

Wi-fi could be just as unsafe as mobile phones (both emit microwave radiation) but proof could be a long time in coming.

The CM's assurance that "the Wi-fi band frequency was lower than that for mobile phones" is not reassuring.

The Swiss government issued a health alert on electrosmog in 2005. Germany, Austria and Belgium have all advised schools against installing Wi-fi networks. In France, five public libraries shut down their Wi-fi over health concerns. Last year, the German government warned its citizens to avoid using Wi-fi.

The above actions were all on the basis that a possible risk has not been ruled out, rather than because an actual threat has not been determined.

The CM's statement that: "Unless they show evidence that it (Wi-fi) is indeed a danger, we will work to ensure Penang has opportunities to compete for investments at national and international levels" thus flies in the face of conventional wisdom.

In view of all of the above, CAP calls on the state government to review its Wi-fi plans.

Wi-fi use should be viewed with caution, not reckless abandon. The technology poses "threats of serious or irreversible damage", a condition which, under the Precautionary Principle that several countries adopt, is a valid basis for the state government to abandon the project, or at the very least, review it.
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Source: Sun2Surf, SM Mohamed Idris, 03 Oct 2008

Penang Govt. wants blanket WiFi and thus fails to find any evidence of health damage
Malaysia Created: 25 Sep 2008
The Penang government has found no evidence that the open wi-fi transmission network planned over the whole state would pose a health hazard to inhabitants, and will go ahead with the project.

Chief minister Lim Guan Eng said today the economic and social opportunities presented by the project should not be stopped when there is no concrete proof that it is risky.

He stressed that the wi-fi band frequency was, in fact, lower than that for mobile phones.

"Until we are convinced otherwise, we should not stand in the way of technology," he said.

The Consumers Association of Penang recently expressed concern that a "wi-fi fog" over the state may have adverse radiation effects on people.

"Unless they show evidence that it is indeed a danger, we will work to ensure Penang has opportunities to compete for investments at national and international levels," he said.

Lim said the state had thus far received objections from two parties against the wi-fi project.

He stressed that he was willing to meet them as the state was concerned about their views.

However, he dismissed having public consultations before embarking on the plan, saying the state’s progress would be dragged if it had consultations for every project.

"Do we need to consult before deciding on the second Penang bridge? We already know the project is helpful," he said.

Lim said this at a preview of the state’s plan to have WiMAX technology access among internet users in Penang. The WiMAX programme will be run by Packet One Networks (M) Sdn Bhd.

Packet One CEO Michael Lai clarified that the company’s end-user modems, base stations and microwave links to transmit and receive the WiMAX service have received approvals from Sirim.

The service has also received confirmation from the Malaysian Nuclear Agency, he added.

The agency confirmed that the actual radiation levels observed around its P1 W1MAX base stations were below the standard limit for public exposure set by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) and the International Commission for Non-Ionising Radiation Protection (ICNIRP), he said.

The site radiation assessment was conducted around the WiMAX facility at FSBM building in Cyberjaya.

"Based on both certifications, the public can rest assure that P1 W1MAX poses no demonstrable scientific evidence of a risk to health," he said.
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Source: The Sun Daily, Himanshu Bhatt, 25 Sep 2008 (caption by H.Eiriksson /

WiFi project stopped till safety is assured
Malaysia Created: 21 Sep 2008
The Consumers Association of Penang (CAP) has proposed that the "Penang Free WiFi" project be stopped until the state government can prove that it is safe.

Its president S.M. Mohamed Idris said the state government should not allow the technology to be imposed on the residents as they would be unable to avoid the electro-magnetic radiation from the project.

"The state government should take the precautionary approach in this matter and stop the project as it may affect the health of all Penang residents," he said in a statement today.

Mohamed Idris said CAP was worried about the possible health effects of the project which was launched recently.

He said the project would create a Wi-Fi fog over the state and no one would be able to escape its effects.
"There will be an increase of Wi-Fi telecommunication towers and masts all over the state. They are already a health concern of residents who live near them.

"These concerns will be multiplied many folds if there are to be more of these towers and masts.”
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Source: New Straits Times, Melissa Darlyne Chow, 19 Sep 2008

CAP calls for ban on mobile phones
Malaysia Created: 28 May 2008
The Consumers' Association of Penang (CAP) has called for the ban on the usage of mobile phones. Its president S.M. Mohamed Idris said a renowned US-based neurosurgeon had warned recently that mobile phones could be a greater threat to human health than smok ing and even asbestos.
"This latest alert indicates that using mobile phones for more than 10 years could more than double the risk of brain cancer," Idris said, citing a study by neurosurgeon Dr Vini Khurana.

Speaking at the CAP office today, Idris said the study by Dr Khurana revealed that there was significant and increasing evidence for a link between mobile phone usage and certain brain tumours.

He said Dr Khurana had also called for a solid scientific study to observe heavy mobile phone users for a period of at least 10 to 15 years as cancer would take at least a decade to develop.

"This is because previous studies, which found no evidence of a link between mobile usage and an increased risk of cancer, often did not include enough long-term mobile phone users in their study sample," Idris, quoting Dr Khurana, said.
Dr Khurana, in his study, had also noted that mobile phone users were as young as three years old.

Idris said CAP had been against the use of mobile phones for many years.

"In view of the fact that mobile phones could represent a public health time-bomb, CAP urges the government to take appropriate measures to address the problem.

"Many mobile phone users do not realise that they are actually putting a potent transmitter, which emits microwave radiation that affects the body system, next to their head everyday," he said, adding that parents should not allow their children to use mobile phones.
Click here to view the source article.
Source: New Straits Times, Melissa Darlyne Chow, 28 May 2008

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