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|Migraines, maladies and masts|
|South Africa||Created: 7 Mar 2010|
Tracy-Lee Dorny: 'This was our dream home - We have taken nine years to build it. It has been a haven, and a secure haven for us to live in'.
View the two part video:
(click on the first two thumbnails below the video player to view the two seperate parts)
Tracy-Lee Dorny built high walls to keep her family safe in a city full of threats. She now claims that state of the art security measures can't protect her from the uninvited hazard that landed on her doorstep. An iBurst cell mast was installed in August last year.
Tracy-Lee: 'To watch this big piece of tower go up 30 metres from your bedroom window and know that that is going to be radiating through your home 24/7...'
We all want the technology that connects us to the 21st century, but nobody wants it in their back yard.
Tracy-Lee: 'You are not going to know actually what it is doing to you until it starts doing it to you.'
Within weeks, Tracy says she began to experience unusual symptoms.
Tracy-Lee: 'It was actually quite frightening how quickly things did start happening. Headaches, the nausea, the rashes... it was a burning, itching, stinging... and you like sort of think it's not connected. There were just too many things going wrong with us for there not to be connections.'
Jannie van Zyl (CEO: iBurst): 'These towers radiate electric radiation and there are international standards on how much radiation is allowed on a site like this. And you have to make sure that you fall within those health limits.'
Jannie van Zyl is the CEO of iBurst. He says they conform to international radiation limits. In fact, he says they operate at levels far below the standard.
Jannie: 'To give you an idea, the specific tower was approximately 10 000 times less than what the ICNIRP guidelines and the World Health Organisation set as a limit.'
Karl Muller (E-Mag): 'There is a lot of controversy about these radiation levels. In fact, health problems are reported at one-millionth of the ICNIRP guidelines.'
Karl Muller is with the electromagnetic action group of South Africa. They have serious concerns about standards set by international watchdogs.
Karl: 'They are totally inadequate. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of scientific experiments showing all kinds of health problems, all kinds of biological effects at levels way, way below the ICNIRP levels'
The facts seem to fluctuate, depending on where you stand in the debate.
Jannie: 'You know, there are something like 40 000 - if I do a thumb suck [as] I do not know the exact number - but probably something like 40 000 in South Africa and clearly, probably hundreds or millions worldwide and there has been many, many studies done. There is no concrete evidence that there is a problem with radiation.'
Bongani Bingwa (Carte Blanche Medical presenter): 'There are several empirical studies peer reviewed that raise exactly the concerns the Craigavon community are raising.'
Jannie: 'And there are many, many more studies that say that no correlation can be found.'
Bongani: 'We can play this ping-pong. I can say this study; I can say that study...'
Jannie: 'I've got slightly more studies that you...'
Bongani: '...but the bottom line is there is enough information to raise the concern.'
Jannie: 'Which means then it should be taken further, with proper scientific study.'
The World Health Organisation fact sheet states that 'from all evidence accumulated so far, no adverse health effects have been shown to occur from signals at masts'.
Inversely, their website carries studies which conclude 'there are negative effects, ranging from sleep disturbances to serious illness'.
Regardless of the surplus of contradicting science, Tracy and her family are clear about what they are feeling.
Keegan Dorny: 'You are itching on your body, you are feeling nauseous; you are vomiting a lot, [and] your head feels like it [was] going to explode.'
In a desperate attempt to alleviate his symptoms, Tracey has lined her son Keegan's room with insulation foil.
Keegan: 'Well, it's supposed to stop the radiation from coming through, but it didn't work.'
Tracy-Lee: 'He'd have heart palpitations where he'd say to me, 'Mommy, my heart is going too fast.''
Keegan: 'My heart was racing.'
Tracy-Lee: 'And I just knew that I just couldn't in good faith leave my child here.'
Tracey moved her family out of their home in October last year.'
Tracy-Lee: 'The nausea and headaches and all of that started subsiding. Keegan's rash started clearing because his hadn't been as inflamed as mine. It has taken quite a long time for that to heal.'
In the months since her self-imposed eviction, Tracey discovered she was not the only Craigavon resident with concerns.
Tracy-Lee: 'We suddenly realised we were getting emails where other people were telling us, 'We have got rashes, we've got nausea, we've got vomiting, heart palpitations,' and there was a pattern happening in Craigavon and all those people said they'd never had it before.'
Jannie: 'It is quite normal when a new site is constructed that people will make an association between anything new that happens in your environment, like a big tower going up. Clearly it is extremely visible.'
To date, Tracey has a database of complaints from about 45 residents in her neighbourhood.
Woman 1: 'Before I wasn't like this. I am working there for 10 years. Now it just changed for three months.'
Woman 2: 'I started experiencing symptoms that I've never experienced before.'
Woman 1: 'All my body is itchy and it is burning. I am scratching and I can't even sleep.'
Woman 2: 'Itchy skin, bloodshot eyes, headaches, inability to concentrate, I'd get an inflamed sensation down the one side of my body.'
Man: 'Like hot flushes, headaches and, you know, all those things.'
Boy: 'I haven't really been able to sleep properly.'
Woman 3: 'My stomach is burning inside. I feel like I can vomit. And I've got a headache.'
Jannie: 'I do not for a minute think that they are imagining the symptoms. The symptoms are real. Right now we are questioning the correlation because we've not seen any facts that can conclude the correlation between the tower and the symptoms.'
Woman 2: 'Can I prove that the symptoms [are from] the tower going up? No, I can't. Does it correspond with the exact time I started working from home, did the symptoms get worse at that time. Yes, they did. And I'm not going to gamble with that factor. You know, there's a book called, 'Would you stick your head in the microwave oven?'... and that about sums is up for me.'
Karl: 'Broadband radiation, broadband wireless like iBurst, it uses a wider spectrum of frequency and the health problems that have been reported very specifically with broadband include burning skin.'
Karl Muller says the Craigavon residents are showing symptoms similar to those cited in international mast studies.
Karl: 'You have a choice of using a handset. You don't have a choice about being radiated by masts. You find that a syndrome; it is headaches, sleep disorders, fatigue, memory and concentration problems, dizziness, skin tingling. Those are all the peer reviewed scientific studies on the World Health Organisation database; every single one shows a problem.'
Jannie: 'We are not medical professionals. We can't go and run studies. The best that we can do, like any other corporate citizen that's got some kind of responsibility, is we say, 'Give us the guidelines,' and hopefully those guidelines are set by the experts. And in this case the international body is the ICNIRP. If somebody disagrees with the ICNIRP, by all means take it up at that level.'
The ICNIRP advises the World Health Organisation.
Bongani: 'We turned to the World Health Organisation, who didn't respond to our numerous emails and requests for interviews. So we put a few calls through to reputable scientists around the world with strong views on the subject.'
Prof Ollie Johannsen is a neuroscientist based in Stockholm.
Bongani: 'If you look at the WHO website it does have a lot of information that suggests that in fact these electromagnetic fields are not a danger to the public.'
[On phone] Prof Ollie Johannsen (Neuroscientist Karolinksa Institute, Stockholm): 'Well, hopefully they are completely right because I have coined the expression that it is the largest full scale human experiment ever. And of course I am most happy if I'm wrong.'
Prof Johannsen found some support for his warnings with the European Parliament in August 2008.
[On phone] Prof Johannsen: 'The European Parliament clearly has said, and with all wireless techniques included, that the public guidelines are obsolete and need to be revised.'
On the other side of the globe - and the debate - is Prof Mays Swicord:
[On phone] Prof Mays Swicord (Former Chief Scientist Motorola, USA): 'If you want to analyse the database and you look at the weight of the evidence, the weight of evidence does not support the contention that there's a health effect of RF energy at those low levels - levels being emitted by base stations and cellphones.'
This is the view held by most industry-funded research.
Independent researchers like Munich based Prof Franz Adlkolfer generally raise doubts
[On phone] Prof Franz Adlkolfer (Internal Medicine Free University, Berlin): 'If we look at the data which we have so far, one can say it's not proven yet. But if we talk about the probability, the situation is absolutely different.'
So the science is inconclusive. Perhaps the symptoms are all in the mind?
Bongani: 'What about the nocebo effect? Couldn't this just be in their minds?
[On phone] Prof Johannsen: 'Of course, but people have done studies on rats, mice, tomato plants, bacteria, and so on - and you cannot say that the effects seen there are in anyone's mind.'
In Craigavon, Tracy says even her pets began to show signs of discomfort.
Tracy-Lee: 'They would be having a runny tummy, and I noticed that they were vomiting [and] also biting their paws. And I know the feeling; I thought they are starting to get these same symptoms and feelings.'
She took them to a well respected vet.
Tracy-Lee: 'He examined them from head to toe, took blood tests... There were no parasites, no worms, nothing that could be causing their vomiting, upset stomachs and chewing their arms.'
Tracey has no doubt about cause and effect.
Karl: 'In Craigavon the mast is basically beaming straight into the child's bedroom. This is not good.'
Karl Muller believes that the precautionary principle should be applied to masts in residential areas.
Karl: 'Where you don't know what the effect of some operation is and there is some indication that there may be a danger, or risk or hazard, and you are not sure - just be careful, take precautions, minimise exposure.'
Jannie: 'It is not for me to try and set international standards or even local standards in terms of health. It is very much for me to follow what standards are set.'
Bongani: 'And what I am saying is that there is enough concern even around those standards. It is not good enough to say, 'Well, until international bodies sort it out I'm just going to leave it,' even when you've got people in your area, in your country, your consumers, saying there is a problem.'
To meet his consumers' concerns, Jannie claims he agreed to turn off the mast for a little while.
Jannie: 'We went to quite an extraordinary step. We suggested: 'Let's turn off the tower and let's see if your symptoms improve.''
Bongani: 'Would that not suggest that you are kind of running a type of clinical trial on these residents?'
Jannie: 'I would have liked to have seen a proper medical trial around this from day one, and that's what we've been asking for.'
Karl: 'The people of this area don't want a scientific experiment to be conducted on them to see: how do you react to broadband microwave radiation? I actually think it is outrageous to say, let's try this little experiment and then we'll turn it back on again and see: does it hurt now, are you feeling sick again?'
Residents claim that the switch off is a superficial gesture, which will not yield any measurable results. They want nothing less than the removal of the mast.
Woman 2: 'I'd like it removed, I'd like it switched off and I'd like it to come down. I'm not going to gamble with my health.'
Woman 4: 'If somebody wants to put [the mast] in their own garden they can take [it] away and put [it] in their own garden.'
As long as Tracy believes that the mast is causing her family harm, she will not feel safe in her home.
Tracy-Lee: 'You know, our Constitution says that we have a right to a healthy environment, health safety... it is our right. It is our Constitutional right to be able to live in our homes and to be safe and protected.'
Dec 2009, South Africa: iBurst tower battle comes to a head
Oct 2009, South Africa: iBurst Wireless Broadband Blamed for 'Nightmare'
Oct 2009, South Africa: Broadband tower sparks outrage in community
|Click here to view the source article.|
|Source: MNet,co.za, Bongani Bingwa, 08 Feb 2010|
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