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Mobile base stations and health
Malta Created: 13 Oct 2008
In recent articles, stating that mobile base stations are harmless, the European Commission, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the International Commission of Non-Ionising Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) were all mentioned to be backing this statement.

Then why doesn't someone inform the public and especially the concerned "unlucky people" that happen to live near mobile base stations without any choice, of the latest news? Well the answer is probably because it isn't really good news for those of us, "unlucky people", who have the antennae forced upon us; the news was not "mobile base stations are harmless" but more like "there are reasons for precaution".

On September 8 and 9 a seminar was organised by the Radiation Research Trust called EMF & Health - A Global Issue... Exploring Appropriate Precautionary Approaches. Representatives of the EU, WHO and ICNIRP were all present. The conclusions were not as stated in the recent newspapers confirming that mobile base stations are harmless but here are just some of the mentioned points.

The 10-year-old ICNIRP guidelines are out of date. According to the recent article, "all the surveys carried out on mobile phone base stations in Malta and Gozo in the past have shown that emission levels of electromagnetic frequencies were far lower than internationally accepted limits. Studies carried out over the years by the MCA have shown EMF levels to be well below the maximum levels for public exposure stipulated by the ICNIRP". However, besides being out of date, the studies are only based on the "thermal effect".

There was also an important announcement about the potential high risks to children's health in the near future with regard to using mobile phones, made by Professor Yury Grigoriev, chairman of Russian National Committee on Non-Ionising Radiation Protection, RNCNIRP.

The Citizens Initiative Kempten West, which was established after the installation of a mobile transmitter, is now able to present the first results of blood tests. Unfortunately, the conclusion of this study was that since the medically conducted tests carried out on residents living in the vicinity of the commissioned operational telecommunications mast proves a drastically increased health risk, immediate action by political and regulatory authorities, at the municipal, provincial and federal levels, is demanded. In order to prevent further endangerment of the health of residents, the medical point of view is that the operation of the telecommunications mast must immediately be stopped! (Dr Anna Blanz, Dr Markus Kern, Dr Hans-C. Scheiner).

Following the seminar, the need for precaution was confirmed by the latest news from the European Parliament. The Parliament voted 522 to 16 to recommend tighter safety standards for cell phones. In light of the growing body of scientific evidence linking cell phone use to brain tumours, the Parliament says, "The limits on exposure to electromagnetic fields [EMFs] which have been set for the general public are obsolete."

The European Parliament "is greatly concerned at the Bio-Initiative international report concerning EMFs, which summarises over 1,500 studies on that topic and which points in its conclusions to the health risks posed by emissions from mobile-telephony devices such as mobile telephones, UMTS, WiFi, WiMax and Bluetooth, and also DECT landline telephones." Further, it points out the need to "address vulnerable groups such as pregnant women, newborn babies and children".

The vote passed by a huge majority, with 97 per cent recommending tighter safety standards.

So now the European Parliament is realising that yes, there is reason for concern. Have our authorities here in Malta even read the BioInitiative Report before allowing mobile antennae to go up without a permit as long as they are less than 10 metres high?
Click here to view the source article.
Source: Times Of Malta, Patrick Pace, 13 Oct 2008

Health hazards caused by antenna
Malta Created: 23 Sep 2008
The residents of Sir Luigi Preziosi Street, Lija, were very unpleasantly surprised recently to find that a Melita mobile phone base station antenna had been erected on the roof of one of the houses of character there without prior notice.

Preziosi Street is a narrow road in the village core and consists of houses of character inhabited by a good number of residents within a 15-metre radius of the antenna. Is this what the law and best practice permit? In response to various queries to the Malta Environmental and Planning Athority, we have been informed that no permit is required for such an installation, as long as the structure is constructed 4.5 metres from the façade. That, for them, is the only issue.

Why are telephony and other service providers not regulated at all in this regard? All that is required is for one resident (or in this case the owner of a house rented out to foreign students) to be willing to allow the antenna to be erected on the roof for a hefty annual payment, without any consideration for aesthetics or the wishes of the neighbours, or even, more importantly, the possible health risks involved.

The dangers to health have been documented by various international bodies, but Melita argues that since the health hazards have not been proved, then business should be allowed to proceed. On the other hand, we, as citizens, demand that the precautionary principle be honoured and applied, namely, that if there is doubt as to whether there can be an adverse effect on health, then the erection of such a structure in densely populated residential areas should be banned.

There are now three telephony companies in Malta vying for better reception. Are we to expect more of these antennae to be erected in urban areas without any regulation and safeguards at all? Surely there should be an immediate halt to this practice, and then it would be the responsibility of Mepa and the public health authorities, through a permit application system and criteria that would preclude the erection of such structures in residential areas.
Click here to view the source article.
Source: Times of Malta, Ray and Catrina Attard, 21 Sep 2008

EU: "No evidence of health risks from base stations"
Malta Created: 22 Aug 2008
The European Commission has no reason to believe that mobile phone base station antennae in residential areas have adverse effects on residents' health, Health Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou said in reply to a parliamentary question tabled by Maltese MEP Simon Busuttil.

Mr Busuttil asked the Commission whether it considered mobile phone antennae to be safe and acceptable in residential areas, especially in view of the increasing concern worldwide regarding their safety implications.

Ms Vassiliou said the Commission was taking public concerns on electromagnetic fields (EMF) exposure "very seriously" by monitoring the legislation in member states in relation to the limitations on such exposure, and has also funded research to further fill gaps in knowledge on the subject.

She said available scientific studies have shown that these antennae do not have adverse effects on health.

A spokesman for the Malta Communications Authority told The Times that at the end of last year there were 875 base stations around the island.

Base stations on rooftops close to homes, schools, churches and hospitals have sparked a number of enquiries from people concerned about the potential health hazards. Residents argued that various studies carried out worldwide clearly indicated that the emissions released in EMFs may have serious detrimental effects on humans, particularly children, and may lead to various complications, including the development of brain tumours.

All the surveys carried out on mobile phone base stations in Malta and Gozo in the past have shown that emission levels of electromagnetic frequencies were far lower than internationally accepted limits. Studies carried out over the years by the MCA have shown EMF levels to be well below the maximum levels for public exposure stipulated by the International Commission on Non-Ionising Radiation Protection.

Ms Vassiliou said EU member states have the responsibility to ensure measures to protect the population against potential health risks. In order to provide guidance to the member states and to create a basis for the relevant provisions of the EU product safety legislation, Council Recommendation 1999/519/EC had established a European Union set of basic restrictions and reference levels.

The recommendations of the international organisations, like the World Health Organisation (WHO), are also continuously monitored by the Commission and taken into consideration, she said.

The WHO states that "considering the very low exposure levels and research results collected to date, there is no convincing scientific evidence that the weak RF (radio frequency) signals from base stations and wireless networks cause adverse health effects."

It also states that recent surveys have shown that the RF exposures from base stations range from 0.002 to two per cent of the levels of international exposure guidelines, depending on a variety of factors such as the proximity to the antenna and the surrounding environment.

The MCA spokesman said it has a yearly programme for EMF auditing. All sites that have been audited to date have been found to be compliant with the guidelines issued by the International Commission on Non-Ionising Radiation Protection (ICNIRP). These guidelines, adopted by the Maltese government, provide the limits for public exposure to EMF and are endorsed by the WHO.

The spokesman said that towards the end of this year, the MCA will be publishing a report with the full detailed results for this year's audit.
Click here to view the source article.
Source: Times Of Malta, Matthew Xuereb, 21 Aug 2008

Xghajra parents appeal against mobile phone mast
Malta Created: 20 Aug 2007
Parents from Xghajra and the local council are up in arms after neighbours installed a mobile phone antenna on their roof in Triq Awrat.

When the MEPA application permit was displayed on their building, some residents wrote to MEPA stating their objections. However, they have now discovered that in spite of their objection, the antenna was installed because there are new legal notices 115 and 187, which state that no MEPA approval is needed for such installations!!

When the mobile company was contacted, it said that such antennae are not harmful; however the parents have other reports showing that radiation issued within 500m of installations are harmful especially for children, even though the radiation is below the stipulated limit.

Children are more prone to such hazards as they absorb the radiation far more than adults. The radiation kills parts of the cells of the body that fight cancer.

The parents are now collecting signatures and appealing to the authorities, and all other parents who are concerned about their children’s health, to have a look around and check if they are at risk.

“We, as parents, work and do more than our best to ensure the best education, healthiest food, best exercise and standard of living for our children, but we simply cannot accept that someone is just ignoring their health, for Lm1,000 a year!! Our kids are irreplaceable,” the parents said.

The petition has so far attracted more than 100 signatures. Since the authorities were contacted, MEPA has only sent an acknowledgement and the Malta Communications Authority sent a technician to check radiation levels.
Click here to view the source article.
Source: Malta Independent Online, 18 Aug 2007

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