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An Iowan sounds alarm on new cell technology some say could have serious health effects
USA Created: 20 Sep 2019
Linda Mason Hunter of Des Moines shuns smart phones in favor of an old-style flip phone, and prefers her devices be wired rather than cellular. "I've lived here 42 years," says the blogger who does a radio talk show,"Green Zone" on KFMG and was an editor for Meredith and Rodale Press. She calls the Kingman Boulevard house she shares with her husband "a healthy home." She wrote a book on how to make homes healthy.

But Hunter has grown alarmed about the next generation of wireless cellular technology known as 5G (G stands for generation, not to be confused with the 5G in your router which refers to gigahertz, or GHz). She warns that even people who don't buy those phones could be susceptible to negative health effects from the infrastructure being installed across communities.

"Numerous peer-reviewed scientific studies show that this type of radiation has both immediate and long-term health effects, including increased cancer risk, cellular stress, changes to DNA, memory deficits, neurological disorders, and insomnia," Hunter wrote. On top of which "there is growing evidence of serious risk to the planet birds, plants, animals, every living thing, the entire ecosystem."

The new cellular technology involves emissions from relatively low-energy radio waves, microwave radiation, and pulsed millimeter waves which have the most energy, with frequencies from 30 to 100 GHz. (Existing cell phones have 2.4 GHz.) Scientists worry most about the high frequency microwave radiation and pulsed millimeter waves, which weaken the membrane around cells, transmitting radiation deeper into the body," said Dr. Magda Havas, professor emeritus at Trent University in Canada at a recent 5G Summit. She said sweat ducts and fluid in the eyes, as well as metal implants in the body, act as "antenna." lnside the cell, electromagnetic radiation can be a precursor to cancer, turning off antioxidants and allowing free radicals to build up and cause toxicity, she contended.

Industry heads don't dispute 5G will increase electromagnetic frequencies and microwave radiation manifold through transmission devices boxed antennae installed on light and utility poles, described as a network of millions of cell sites close to the ground. They say they're meeting Federal Communications Commission guidelines.

But in a Feb. 6 Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee hearing on the future of 5G, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut) said he had written the FCC commissioner asking for safety studies and received only general statements echoing the Food and Drug Administration, which shares regulatory responsibility for cell phones. The FDA claims to urge businesses to undertake health studies, but when Blumenthal asked industry representatives at the hearing if they'd funded any such studies, they hadn't.

Verizon is already providing 5G home internet in 11 cities and plans to bring it to Des Moines before year's end. Its website boasts connectivity 20 times the speed of 4G. But opponents warn even the microwave radiation produced from exposure to cell phones and tablets close to the body hasn't been tested in 22 years. Besides threatening human and animal health, they say, 5G technology could interfere with weather satellites and enable surveillance.

So Hunter, who has never organized a protest before, began a petition drive and voiced her concerns in a letter to Des Moines City Manager Scott Sanders, among others. He replied that cities and states are prohibited under the federal 1996 Telecommunications Act from regulating placement, construction or modification of personal wireless service facilities over environmental concerns, as long as the facilities comply with FCC regulations. State law, Sanders wrote, forbids a city from rejecting an application based on perceived effects of radio frequency emissions.

Hunter, however, contends those laws relate to radio wave frequencies but not to pulsated microwave frequencies, which are most harmful. She sent Sanders an opinion from her husband, Bob Hunter, a law professor emeritus at Drake University, faulting corporations for trying to rush 5G through with FCC assistance. He said nearly 80 cities and counties are suing in federal court claiming the FCC is exceeding its power by limiting local authority.

Verizon Spokesman David Weissman said the company follows FCC guidelines. Though declining to address the health concerns, he referred me to a July 16 New York Times piece that contends "mainstream scientists" see no evidence of harm from cellphone radio waves. The article critiques a 2000 study by physicist Bill P. Curry that suggested tissue damage increases with rising radio-wave frequency. It says Curry failed to consider "the shielding effect of human skin" in protecting cells inside the body.

In the recent summit critiquing 5G, Environmental Health Trust scientist Devra Davis referred to 1994 studies showing DNA damage to the brain cells of rats exposed to very weak pulsed signals from cell phone radiation. Studies on humans have detected rare cancers to the brain and nerves from cell phone exposure, she said. A Nov. 1, 2018, New York Times piece acknowledged evidence of links to cancer in male rats, but suggested the higher frequencies of current 4G and 5G cellphones make it harder for those radio waves to penetrate bodies.

As one not swayed by conspiracy theories, who believes children should be vaccinated, I'd paid little attention to 5G until Hunter contacted me. But I look back to when microwave ovens were first introduced in the 1980s, and consumers were warned not to stand in front of them while cooking. "Today, we have phones with the same frequency as a microwave oven, on all the time," said Stephanie McCarter, a Dallas environmental medicine specialist at the summit.

The bottom line is, until we have proper studies, we really don't know what's at stake here, and the government agencies created to protect us don't really seem to care. So it's up to communities to push for better answers.
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Source: Des Moines Register, Rekha Basu, 19 Sep 2019

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