News for Swaziland

Cellphone radiation a danger to all creatures
Swaziland Created: 21 Jun 2013
MBABANE – A number of people attended a lecture on the dangers of cellphone towers at the Mountain Inn Wednesday night.

The talk which was organised by the Swaziland Natural Society began at around 7.30 pm and continued well into the night.
Karl Muller a former Wits lecturer was the guest speaker and he gave a lengthy in depth lecture on how electromagnetic radiation such as that emitted by cellphone towers is a danger to the environment and human health.

Some of the things he talked about included the effect of electromagnetic frequencies on honey bees, bird’s plants and even humans.

Throughout his presentation he was citing peer reviewed studies which were done over the past 10 years showing the negative impacts of EM radiation. Some of the people who attended the event included Dr Adam Groeneveld an Urologist at the Mbabane Clinic.

He said he was very interested in the topic and wanted to learn as much as possible about the effects that cellphone towers may pose on human health.
“I have heard a lot from people I know and work with and I’m hoping to get the facts here today,” he said before the presentation began.

Also in attendance was Waterford Science teacher Quinton Reissman who said he was there to learn the latest news on the issue of electromagnetic radiation from cellphone towers.
“Cellphones are a new and growing technology and we are not yet fully aware of their impact on life.
“I may not know all the facts about the dangers of the electromagnetic radiation but I’m hoping to learn a lot from the presentation,” he said.

Once Muller had completed his presentation, he opened the floor to questions from the audience.
One of the attendees asked him what his solution was to the problem of wireless devices, cellphone towers and other emitters of electromagnetic radiation.

He responded by saying that he would recommend the installation of fibre optic data lines which would reduce the use of wireless devices for internet purposes.
He also suggested that people should limit their exposure to EMF by talking less on their cellphones and not living near cellphone towers which is what he was doing.

He had most of the room in stitches of laughter when he said he did not own a cellphone and if he had to use one, he would leave it on the top of a table and yell messages to it.
Overall, as evidenced by the huge turnout at the event, it would appear that Swazis are definitely interested in finding out whether or not electromagnetic radiation from various technological equipment poses a danger to our environment and health.
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Source: Times of Swaziland, TSAKASILE DLAMINI, 21 Jun 2013

Senators to tackle phone mast issue
Swaziland Created: 17 Aug 2012
MBABANE – Hope is not lost on the issue of hazardous radiation from mobile phone masts, as senators have vowed to leave no stone unturned in addressing this matter.

Most members of the upper house in the country’s legislative chambers bought into the idea that restrictive measures should be imposed on companies prior to erection of the masts.

This comes in the wake of the issuance of notices to the Indian government to ban high-frequency mobile phone towers in residential areas, following reports that their radiation posed health hazards to the human race.

Interviewed senators agreed to lobby for legislative initiative that would borrow heavily on the premise that people’s lives took precedence to whatever form of development, no matter the extent of improvement envisaged.

Currently, the Electronics and Commu-nication Bill is pending in the House of Senate, following its passing from the House of Assembly.

"The Bill is yet to be law, so changes could still be accommodated and as parliamentarians we will work on it. We have to be thankful that the parliamentary houses were divided into two, this arrangement allows for the chambers to complement one another," stressed Senator Bhutana Dlamini.

"We are, however, appreciative of the role the media has played on this very important issue, as it touches on the very existence of humans."

He, however, quickly pointed out that, as legislators, they would not be restricting themselves on the issue of mobile phone masts’ radiation but would follow a comprehensive approach to the proposed legislation.

"There is a lot contained in the Bill, and these are technical issues so the involvement of experts in the field becomes inevitable. We need more information before we could endorse any direction," he said.

Dlamini said it would be folly for them to take a back seat and let things be, just because they were confronted with technical issues. "We will ask questions whenever necessary because we want to make sure that people’s lives are protected."

Sharing the same sentiments was Senator Bonisile Mngomezulu who said they would try and follow the Indian example by enforcing guidelines that would give a wide berth to any harm that may be caused by the potentially harmful emissions. "If others have shown the way, what would keep us from taking the same route if the motive is to eliminate risk from our people.

"We have to try every possible means to protect lives," she said. She also suggested that companies should be encouraged to take social responsibility seriously, saying necessary precautionary measures should be implemented, with befitting compensation in cases where the horse had already bolted. Warnings have been issued by experts in the field on the hazardous nature of emissions from, particularly, mobile phone masts or towers.

The nature of the advice has been to the effect that these, when erected, should be kept at bay, with at least a distance of 100m between residential areas, schools, hospitals or any other place where a large number of people congregate.

Studies suggesting that these pose potential harm to people in close proximity of the towers have been conducted worldwide, with most indicating similar symptoms reported by respondents who volunteered in the research process.

Over 10 countries were targeted by researchers. Among these are Poland, Spain, Germany, India, Brazil, the United Kingdom, Argentina, Austria, Australia and South Africa.

Most prevalent symptoms reported include: headaches, anxiety, swelling in the brain and head, nausea and hearing disorders.

Meanwhile, the Swaziland Environmental Authority (SEA), when sought for comment earlier, said they were aware of such studies but had not as yet been conclusive.

"There are in fact two schools of thoughts: one for the idea that the masts are a health hazard and the other suggesting that the impact of the emitted radiation is very insignificant," commented Gcina Dladla, Information Officer at SEA.

He said his organisation had not taken any particular position but were taking the necessary precautionary measures.

Dladla told the Times SUNDAY that every mast mounted in the country was subjected to rigorous tests before approval.

"At times, we give the relevant companies advice on how to mitigate any possible harm. There are many aspects we explore, which include among other things, environmental considerations related on the impact that would be caused by the erection of the mast on the land earmarked, and also the daily tolerable exposure to radiation," he said.

This newspaper is aware of at least 10 studies conducted in the United States, Australia, Austria, Hungary, Poland, South Africa and Turkey, linking cellphone radiation to significant decreases in sperm numbers, motility and viability.
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Source: Times of Swaziland, ANDILE NSIBANDE, 29 Jul 2012

Mobile Phone Masts a Health Hazard
Swaziland Created: 24 Jul 2012
MBABANE – Although the kingdom is about to turn a corner towards better development in the communication industry, international scientific research has shown that there is a serious danger to human health that comes with it.

This danger particularly applies to mobile phone masts or towers.

Masts are the tall antenna structures that facilitate communication by making the mobile network abundant in a given area.

The objective is for cellphone communication to become clearer, but the area where a mobile phone mast or base station is located also becomes an electromagnetic field.

Epidemiology research done by scientists have compiled results which many could find very disturbing.

About 10 studies have shown that people who have been exposed to the radiation emitted by these structures as they operate have reported more symptoms such as headache, sleep disturbance, irritability, depression, memory loss and concentration problems.

One of the even more serious health hazards said to stem from the radiation from the masts is cancer.

The scientific studies link a higher rate or levels of symptoms in people with their proximity to the masts.

A distance which is not more than 500 metres away from the masts, according to international research results, does not mean a person is safer.

In Swaziland, mobile phone masts have been erected in densely populated areas, in particular big cities and these have somewhat become part of the panorama.

Some of the notable places where the masts are found include the central part of Msunduza in the capital city, near St Mark’s Primary School and Fairview in Manzini.

Scientists have found children to be more susceptible to the negative effects of microwave radiation from masts or base stations.

Meanwhile, a study to check residential proximity to mobile phone base stations and analysis of cognitive function was done at Menoufiya University, Shebin El-Kom, Egypt.

Eighty five residents living near mobile phone base stations were analysed for visual motor speed, problem solving, attention and memory.

Test results were compared with exposure from nearby mobile phone base stations. The authors of the study reported significant increases in headache (13.5 per cent), memory changes (23.2 per cent), dizziness (13.8 per cent), tremors (9.4 per cent), depressive symptoms (12.9 per cent), and sleep disturbance (13.5 per cent) from the baseline level as measured in local control subjects.

Another study was done at Tel-Aviv University in Israel to investigate how mobile phone base stations and cancer were associated with residential proximity.

A total of 622 people living in proximity to a mobile phone cell site in Netanya, Israel (began operation in July 1996) and attending a cancer clinic, were compared with control populations registered in a neighbouring clinic in Netanya, as well as the entire population cancer rate in Netanya.

"Eight cases in the experimental area were diagnosed during the study period from July 1997 to June 1998 with all different types of cancer (ovarian, breast and lung), Hodgkins Disease, Osteoid osteoma, and hypernephroma. The authors reported a statistically significant association between residential proximity to the mobile phone base station site and cancer incidence.

... govt should look at possible effects closely - MPs

MBABANE – Members of Parliament (MPs) believe that government needs to scrutinise the possible effects of mobile phone masts.

Nkilongo MP Trusty Gina after having been informed about the reviewed scientific studies on the health effects of the masts, said if indeed this was the reality of the situation, government needed to do its own research and compile a report that could be discussed in Parliament.

"Strategic places for masts would have to be found, especially where there is a low population, if the local study confirms the results of other international studies," said Gina.

She added that as a legislator she was not against development in communication, but had to remain mindful of the health consequences it could have.

Hhukwini MP Mkhululi Dlamini said if it were proven beyond reasonable doubt that masts contribute in making people ill and even shortening lifespan, he would not support their installation.

"It would mean mobile companies have been irresponsible by installing masts where there is a high population of people. Such companies would have to be fined severely. Masts would have to, by law, be confined to mountains and other places where people don’t reside," said Dlamini.

Motshane MP Robert Magongo said he would even advocate for the removal of the masts if evidence about their impact on human health was true.

Meanwhile, Mtfongwaneni MP Patrick Gamedze said he had been informed of such effects caused by the mobile phone masts.

He mentioned that to his knowledge mobile phone companies, were compelled to get approval from the Swaziland Environmental Authority first.

The Authority assesses any environmental impacts of whatever apparatus such companies install in communities.

"It would be folly to allow development that would have long-term effects on the health of the people. To my understanding however, there are levels of radiation which people can live under and those which they cannot," he added.

Senator Bhutana Dlamini said as a legislator it was such issues (danger of masts to humans) that he was on the lookout for and could move other legislators to discuss it.

He noted that some mobile masts were said to be environmentally friendly.

"I will make it a point to raise this matter at Senate," he said. Senators are currently scrutinising the Swaziland Communications Commission Bill of 2010 and Electronic Communications Bill of 2010.
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Source: Times of Swaziland, MUSA SIMELANE, 24 Jul 2012

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