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The 'danger' next to our schools
Wales Created: 7 May 2007
SCHOOLS across South Wales are being surrounded by mobile phone masts, with some encircled by up to 11, an exclusive Echo investigation has revealed.

Dozens of infant and junior schools now have at least one base station within 500m as the mobile phone companies continue to expand their networks to support Britain's 62.5m handsets - more than one per head of population.

We checked a random selection of 173 primary schools across Cardiff, the Vale of Glamorgan, Bridgend and the Valleys and found 21 per cent are affected, with 3 Mobile, O2, Orange, T-Mobile and Vodafone placing numerous transmitters near classrooms.

Scientist Dr John Walker, whose research into a cancer cluster among staff at a special school near a mast in Warwickshire recently led operator O2 to agree to pull it down - although the company rejected any links to ill-health - branded our results "horrific".

The 76-year-old physicist, who believes radio waves emitted by base stations can cause cancer and other illnesses by suppressing the immune system, said: "Having numerous masts near schools increases the chances of it falling within a bad beam patch, where children will be directly exposed to radio waves from more than one source."

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He claimed children are more susceptible to harm because their immune systems are still developing.

But the Mobile Operators' Association, which represents 3 Mobile, O2, Orange, T-Mobile and Vodafone, said their technology is completely safe.

A spokeswoman said: "Industry regulator Ofcom has measured radio wave emissions of mobile phone masts since 2000.

"It has undertaken more than 500 audits of base stations.

"The measurements from these audits show emission levels from base stations are typically small fractions of the international healthy and safety public exposure guidelines.

"The highest emissions were 279 times below the guidelines."

Parents and teachers were shocked by our results, and Carol Skinner, a mother of one whose son goes to Cardiff's Adamsdown Primary - which is surrounded by six base stations supporting 14 transmitters - said: "I don't think having masts near schools is a good idea, you hear so many bad things about it.

"There's enough pollution in the air without having another thing to worry about and we don't understand enough about it."

Mother-of-four Debbie Meehan was stunned to hear how many masts were near the school on System Street.

She said: "It's a surprise to me, but I don't know enough about the damage they might cause. But it doesn't sound good.

"We need an independent review to find out the truth."

Adamsdown headteacher John Evans said: "I'm surprised there are so many within the vicinity of the school and I would like to look into the dangers further."

Roger Griffin, headteacher of Kings Monkton School, Cardiff, which has 11 masts and 19 transmitters within 500 metres, said: "We were aware of the proximity of some.

"But that number does make me think.

"I'd like to ascertain where they are and look at the evidence and research of what the dangers are.

"The health and safety of our children is the most important thing."

Vale of Glamorgan Councillor Andrew Dobbinson, a governor at Jenner Park Primary in Barry, which has five base stations within 500m, said: "There is a lot of local concern about masts and emissions."

But Coun Dobbinson, who is also chairman of the council's planning committee, said they have no control over where many masts go.

In the case of Jenner Park Primary, three antennae were placed on existing structures, floodlights, at the neighbouring football ground, which means they did not require planning permission.

While it is considered best practice for mobile phone companies to consult widely when planning to site a base station near a school, there are generally no restrictions on how close they can be placed.

But recently, Mid Devon District Council became the first local authority in England and Wales to put an exclusion zone around mobile phone masts as part of their planning policy.

Councillors agreed masts should not be erected within 500m of a home, school or hospital if there was an alternative site.

Schools worried about radio wave emissions from mobile phone masts can order an emissions audit from industry regulator Ofcom. Tel: 020 7981 3000.

Mobile phone companies say tests show waves as harmless

THE Mobile Operators' Association said more than 30 independent scientific reviews worldwide in the past seven years concluded there is no convincing evidence to suggest their technology is unsafe. (<-- independent?? and what about the hundreds of studies that show adverse effects)

They include:

The Stewart Report to the Government in 2000. It said as radio wave emissions were below guidelines, it did not recommend there should be a minimum distance between base stations and schools. (<-- these ICNIRP "guidelines" are ONLY based on thermal microwave heating effects - non-thermal effects are discarded by ICNIRP - and remember that Mike Repacholi chaired ICNIRP from 1992-96)

The World Health Organisation's 2006 fact sheet. It concluded: "There is no convincing evidence the weak radio frequency signals from base stations and wireless networks can cause adverse health effects." (<-- remember that Mike Repacholi had absolute control of the WHO EMF research agenda)

The UK Radiological Protection Board's 2005 report.

It said: "Within the UK, there is a lack of hard information showing mobile phone systems are damaging to health."

The Irish Expert Review. It concluded there is no scientific basis for, or evidence of, adverse health effects affecting either children or adults as a result of their exposure to radio frequency fields from phone masts. (<-- again, Mike Repacholi was on that review board)
Click here to view the source article.
Source: South Wales Echo, Gareth Rogers, 07 May 2007, w. comments by H. Eiriksson mast-victims.org

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