News for South Africa

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Antenna grumble rumbles
South Africa Created: 19 Mar 2009
RESIDENTS who live next to the Goodwood sports grounds are up in arms about cellphone company MTN’s application to erect new antennas and to continue using the cellular mast at the sports grounds.

Residents are worried about the environmental and health risks posed by the new infrastructure.

There are already MTN, Vodacom and Cell C antennas on the mast.

According to research by the late executive director for the city’s health department, Dr Ivan Toms, current scientific research has not proven any links between Electromagnetic Fields (EMF) emitted by cell mast base stations and negative health impacts.

The World Health Organisation also says on its website conclusive evidence has yet to be produced that will suggest adverse health effects associated with being exposed to cellular radiation from masts.

“Cell masts emit EMF that are typically a fraction of the internationally accepted EMF public exposure guidelines, established by the International Commission for Non-ionising Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) which is in itself an extremely conservative, precautionary guideline,” Toms explained.

He explained that EMF is a form of energy that travels through the air and space.

He said a form of natural EMF would be light.

“We come into daily contact with many household appliances that emit EMF such as microwave ovens, hair dryers, television sets and cordless phones,” he said.

Max Gebhardt, director of Meropa Communications, says: “Each base station provides coverage for a specific area ranging from a thirty kilometre radius in open country to less than 100 metres in built-up areas or inside buildings.”

He says the number of simultaneous calls that a base station can handle is limited and areas of high usage thus require a greater density of base stations.

According to Toms, ongoing research indicates that low level radio frequency fields beamed by antennas and cell masts, do not damage the body.

Provided that antennas comply with international standards and regulations set out by national, provincial and local government, Toms suggested that they should cause no concern for residents.

“Each application for a cell mast and related infrastructure requires an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)application process that is managed by the department of environmental affairs and development planning in terms of the Environmental Conservation Act and National Environmental Management Act,” Toms pointed out.

The health department also has its own radiation control directorate, but nowhere on their website do they refer specifically to radiation caused by cellular masts.

Residents are concerned that they did not have enough time to object to the application.

They were given until 11 March to comment and although the notice of application sent to residents is dated 9 February, it was sent through the post office and many people only received their “post slips” to pick up their registered mail on 19 February or later.

Toms said in his research where residents are dissatisfied with the erection ofa mast in their area they have full right to petition the cell mast service provider to remove the installation.

Very few of the residents around the mast were actually given notifications.

Cheryl Walters, director for the city’s planning and building development management says: “The width of advertising depends on the nature of the application. If it is a new cellmast a radius of 250m is usually used.”

She says the radius used in this specific application was only 150m because the cellmast is existing and only an antenna and a support container are being installed.

One of the suggestions from residents is that a public meeting be held with MTN where all their questions can be answered.

. TygerBurger approached MTN for comment on the matter, but received no response at the time of going to print.
Click here to view the source article.
Source: Tyger Burger, LOUISA STEYL, 18 Mar 2009

Vodacom took our home from us, says family
South Africa Created: 5 Nov 2008
Johannesburg - The Law Society of the Northern Provinces will hear a complaint of professional misconduct against three attorneys next week.

The attorneys represented Vodacom in a case in which a Johannesburg family alleges that the cellular operator took possession of the family home by "making" family members sign purchase papers "under duress".

Dino Anastassiou, a son of the owners of the house, George and Teresa Anastassiou, has named the attorneys: Eleni Christodolou, George Michaelides and Lesley Cohen.

The law society says that the complaint by the Anastassiou family was forwarded to Christodolou but was returned to its offices. It had appointed tracers to establish her whereabouts.

Dino Anastassiou says in his submission to the Law Society, that he, his father, who suffers from Alzheimer's disease, and his mother, who is illiterate and suffers from bipolar disorder, signed papers relating to the sale of their house to Vodacom. These papers contained confidentiality clauses.

Anastassiou told Business Report that Vodacom had promised to pay R7 million for the house in Hurlingham, but had paid only R2.5 million.

He said that in the early early 1990s his parents bought a piece of land in a cul de sac to have peace and tranquillity and operate a business.

He alleged that on January 27 1998 the family arrived home to find a cellular mast with electronic equipment had been erected 15m away from the house. He went to the Johannesburg Metro Council to inquire about the structure, only to discover that it had been erected illegally in contravention of town planning laws.

Anastassiou said two orders were sent by council officials to Vodacom to dismantle the structure. Both were ignored.

According to court papers, on January 6 1998, Vodacom submitted plans to the then Greater Johannesburg Eastern Metropolitan Council for what it termed "minor building works". The cellular operator stated that it had submitted the plans because it had been advised that the council regarded the mast as being akin to telephone poles. Masts were accordingly treated as infrastructural and not as land use.

In anticipation of approval, Vodacom had erected the mast by January 27 1998. About three years later, the plans were approved by the then Greater Johannesburg Northern Municipal Council (GJNMC).

On September 10 2001, LKC Motors, the owner of the plot where the mast had been erected, applied to the City of Johannesburg, the successor to the GJNMC, to rezone the plot to permit the mast. Despite the opposition of 127 residents, the application was approved by Johannesburg's town planning tribunal. The Anastassiou family lodged an appeal against this decision.

The grounds were that Vodacom was seeking de facto approval for what it had done without any prior approval; that the mast had been illegally erected; that it was a health hazard; and that it was an unsightly addition to the neighbourhood.

The appeal was heard by the Gauteng townships board. The evidence was not recorded and no notes were taken of the hearings. Despite this, the appeal was upheld.
Click here to view the source article.
Source: Busines Report, Wiseman Khuzwayo, 02 Nov 2008

Residents object to cellphone mast
South Africa Created: 9 May 2008
Hillcrest residents are fuming over the proposed erection of a cellphone mast in the area, saying it will have harmful repercussions for the community.

The mast, for use by MTN customers, is to be erected on the property of the South African Local Government Association (Salga).

Spokeswoman for the group of residents, Sarah Edwards, said there were concerns about the health and aesthetic implications of the structure.

"The primary concern is regarding the aesthetics of a 30m industrial mast. This could result in property prices dropping in the area.

Concerned

"As a mother, I am also concerned about the well-documented effects of the electro-magnetic frequencies emitted from these masts and how they will affect our children.

"I even choose not to have a 3G (wireless internet) card because I don't believe in exposing my children to any potential harm," Edwards said.

She said that residents "want answers" and each has their own reasons for the objection to the structure.

Executive Environmental Network, contracted by MTN to establish the impact the mast would have on the environment, offered residents the opportunity to object to the erection of the mast in December last year and, two weeks ago, scheduled a meeting to hear the views of residents.

Assessment

According to an e-mail sent by Executive Environmental Network's environmental impact assessment manager, Stephanie le Hanie, the agenda for the meeting is to "discuss the reasons for the objections lodged".

"The initial notice about the mast was put up before Christmas last year and we were given a two-week period to object," said Edwards.

A resident, Justin Foxcroft, said: "If we allow things like this to be thrust upon us, we'll eventually be overrun by it."

The meeting between the residents and a representative from the Executive Environmental Network will take place tomorrow at Hillcrest High School at 6pm.
Click here to view the source article.
Source: Independent Online, DASEN THATHIAH, 08 May 2008

Tempers flare over cell tower
South Africa Created: 1 Feb 2008
DETERMINED Bishopscourt residents plan to take on cellphone giant MTN after the Protea subcouncil received an application from the company to erect a base station in the upmarket neighbourhood.

After the matter was discussed at a subcouncil meeting last week, Celdri de Wet of CEBO Planning, which represents 16 objectors, says that if the application should be approved, her clients will use every available opportunity to appeal the decision.

The proposed site for the tower is Erf 12, Bishopscourt, where the cellular service provider will build a base station compri?sing a 6 m high tower, with one panel antennae attached to the side of the tower, and an equipment container surrounded by palisade fencing to form an enclosure of approximately 14 m².

Warren Petterson, a property consultant who speaks on behalf of MTN, says that over the years, MTN has received numerous complaints from its users about bad reception in the area.

"Complainants are residents in the area as well as commuters. The location for the site would have originated as a set of GPS coordinates, and is, in fact, well suited, being away from the residences on an unused part of a large property."

George and Sue Bylos, two of the objectors, live next to the proposed base station. They say they are in even closer proximity to the base station than the owner of the property.

"Besides visual impact, health is our biggest concern. We have done extensive research and found such base stations are definitely not good for one's health, especially one?s eyes. And this base is just about 50 m away from our bedroom!"

Added to that, they say they do not experience bad cellphone reception at all.

To this, Petterson says their fears are "a common phenomenon when discussing cellular communication".

He says, however, most households have several cellphones, all of which are used regularly by users who expect an adequate ser?vice.

Another resident in the area, Shelley Sandell, whose late husband suffered from a malignant brain tumour, says, "There is a strong indication that the illness was caused by cellphone radio waves. I therefore do not want a cellular antennae or base station in our neighbourhood."

According to Petterson, 376 letters were sent to all the residents of Bishop's Court during the public participation process last year, but a few residents allegedly did not receive any such letters and feel they were ignored.

Beverley Boswell from Klaassens Road says, "I didn't even have a chance to lodge my objection letter; I only learned about this from neighbours. And I really do not want the outstanding view spoiled by an unsightly tower."

The application has been referred back after the applicant and objectors presented their case to the subcouncil. The councillors were not convinced that all alternative sites had been explored, nor that the visual impact had been adequately addressed.

"There are two existing masts in Kirstenbosch. Why can't one of them be shared? Or why can't one be built on top of Wynberg Hill, which is municipal land?" asks Sandell.

Councillor Owen Kinahan, chairperson of the subcouncil, requested the applicant to provide more detailed information on the matter by the next subcouncil meeting on Tuesday, 19 February.

Petterson says that if the application should be refused, MTN will appeal. Should this not be granted, the only alternative would be another application on a nearby property.
Click here to view the source article.
Source: People\'s Post - Fish Hoek, peng li-bao, 30 Jan 2008

Modern technology may be bugging insects
South Africa Created: 4 Jan 2008
Are cellphone masts and the electronic fuzz from radios and televisions destroying some of South Africa's valuable insect life?.

While it may be too early to judge for sure, early results from a study commissioned by the Oppenheimer family suggest that some forms of electromagnetic radiation appear to have a measurable impact on ants and other creeping, crawling or flying insects.

Preliminary results of the five-year project by entomologists Max Clark and Peter Hawkes are due to be published later this year.

The two insect specialists were asked to investigate the possibility that increasing levels of electromagnetic radiation around the country could be harming the health of insect life.

It was initiated by Strilli Oppenheimer, wife of De Beers and E Oppenheimer and Sons group head Nicky Oppenheimer. She became concerned about a noticeable decline in insect life in her garden at Brenthurst, Johannesburg, and at the Ezemvelo Nature Reserve near Bronkhorstspruit.

According to an article in the Johannesburg-based specialist magazine Environmental Matters, more than a million insects have been collected from 24 sites over the past two summers by Clark and Hawkes, with help from insect and zoology students at Wits and Pretoria Universities.

Measurements of electromagnetic radiation from cellphone masts, FM radio, television and other sources had also been collected to see if there was a correlation between signal density and insect numbers and variety.

Environmental Matters Editor Carol Knoll said while the two researchers were cautious about drawing any definite conclusions at this stage, they had seen an apparent trend towards fewer ant species at the sites with the highest electromagnetic signal densities.

However, they stressed that there were several other human disturbances to urban and rural landscapes which could also be responsible - including light pollution, chemical and heavy metal pollution in the soil and fragmentation of the natural landscape by farming and urbanisation.

Another possible confounding factor was the varying impacts between the three main cellphone frequency bands.

Clark also noted that city gardens in Gauteng were now more like forests compared to the old highveld grasslands they had replaced.

Apart from the Brenthurst and Ezemvelo sites, insects were also collected from gardens east and west of Pretoria, the Moreletta Nature Reserve and National Botanical Garden in Pretoria.

The magazine also spoke to Duncan MacFadyen, manager of research and conservation at E Oppenheimer and Son, who noted that the importance of insect life to the ecology and human beings was often underestimated.

"We rely on them for the pollination of many plant species, for controlling the growth of vegetation, for keeping 'pests' in check and for turning over the soil and for many other activities in farming and gardening. It is important that we understand how human activities impact on insects and ecosystems."

Not surprisingly, the researchers found far fewer varieties of insects in heavily disturbed sites such as commercial mealie farms.

But some creatures such as the flightless Tiger Beetle - once common throughout Gauteng - could now be found only at the Ezemvelo reserve.

These beetles were especially vulnerable to human disturbances to the environment because they could not fly away to recolonise other areas.

Other insect types were also vulnerable because they ate or depended on specific grasses or herbs.

Apart from trying to measure the effects of electromagnetic fuzz on creepy crawlies, the project will also be important for future researchers by providing detailed baseline information on the current diversity of insect life.

Whereas only four ant species were found in a large maize field, nearly 40 ant types were found in a near-pristine grassland area.
Click here to view the source article.
Source: Independent Online - Cape Town, Tony Carnie, 04 Jan 2008

Cell phone/cancer verdict
South Africa Created: 25 Oct 2007
It’s like a detachable (semi-detachable for some) part of your own body. It’s your conduit to work, your link to family and friends, a memory store, a status symbol, and, particularly in a country with crime rates such as ours, a life-line. South Africans shake their heads in disbelief when they remember how they used to take long road trips before the advent of the cell phone.

It’s a wonderful, indispensable little tool, and we’re not prepared to go through life without it. But that’s also potentially a problem: if a technology is used so ubiquitously and intimately by so many people (over two billion world-wide), many of them children, we need to be absolutely sure it’s safe.

And we’re not at all sure. A year ago, I wrote in an article on cell phones:

“The current general consensus is that it probably doesn’t do much harm - if any - but that it can cause small discernible biological changes.”

Study changes my mind
Well, I’ve modified my stance. Mainly because of a highly influential research analysis this year by Swedish oncologist Dr Lennart Hardell of University Hospital in Orebro and colleagues. Hardell has been studying cell phone health effects for many years.

Hardell and co. came to the following sobering conclusions:

If you’ve used a cell phone for over 10 years, you are at increased risk for developing certain kinds of brain tumours. Specifically, you have double the risk of developing glioma, an often malignant cancer of the central nervous system; and 2.4 times the risk of developing acoustic neuroma, a benign growth of the nerve that connects the brain with the inner ear. Acoustic neuroma can lead to hearing loss and brain damage.

Tumours more likely on right side:

These tumours are more likely to grow on the side of the head you hold your phone – the right side, for most of us.

Hardell’s team concluded their work by cautioning: “Our findings stress the importance of longer follow-up to evaluate long-term health risks from mobile phone use…an increased risk for other types of brain tumours cannot be ruled out. More research is necessary for risk assessment based on higher number of long-term users.”

One of the problems with studying the health effects of cell phones is that they’ve only been with us for a relatively short time (about 20 years), and many diseases, such as certain cancers, take decades to develop. Hardell’s team was therefore interested in analysing studies that looked at reasonably long-term cell phone use – at least a decade. At this stage, many people haven’t been using their cell phones that long, but, as the years go by and research into the matter continues, the body of evidence will grow.

In addition to cancer, researchers will also be looking at other suspects identified in previous cell phone studies: hearing loss, increased risk of stroke as a result of higher blood pressure on the side of the brain the headset is held, Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.

There has also been concern about the effect on the eyes and the testes. The type of radiation cell phones put out is a kind of electromagnetic radiation called radiofrequency energy (RF). Large amounts of RF energy can heat body tissues and increase body temperature, and cause damage. The eyes and the testes are particularly vulnerable to RF heating because there’s relatively little blood flow in these organs to carry away excess heat.

Meanwhile, what do we do?
The modern world is pretty well addicted and no-one’s about to stop using, but, as Hardell et al stress: “These results indicate that the caution is needed in the use of mobile phones.” By caution, they mean reducing your exposure to cell phone radiation by changing your calling habits a little in the following simple ways

* Spend less time talking on your cell. Make more calls from your land line, or send text messages instead of making calls. Make a serious decision to never drive and talk: apart from any possible radiation worries, the biggest proven danger for cell phone users is a car accident.

* Reduce the distance between yourself and your cell phone. Use a headset and carry the wireless phone away from your body or use a wireless phone connected to a remote antenna. Even holding the headset marginally further away from your head helps.

* Use the other ear sometimes! I can’t say I’ve seen this tip recommended by any medical authority, but I’ve been trying to remember to do it after the above mentioned study came out.

And if you have kids, impress upon them the importance of keeping cell calls for crucial use only; lay down the law on this if necessary. Children are considered to be particularly vulnerable to cell phone radiation, as their skulls are thinner.

Reference:
Lennart Hardell, Michael Carlberg, Fredrik Söderqvist, Kjell Hansson Mild, L. Lloyd Morgan. Long-term use of cellular phones and brain tumours: increased risk associated with use for 10 years. Occup. Environ. Med. 2007; 64: 626-632.
Click here to view the source article.
Source: Health24.com - Cape Town, Olivia Rose-Innes, 24 Oct 2007

Africa facing major cancer blight + explosion in mobile phones
South Africa Created: 16 May 2007
A major conference is taking place in London to raise awareness about the cancer threat to Africa.

The meeting, which is being attended by health ministers from across the continent, will examine the need for cancer programmes across the region.

Cancer is often thought of as a disease of the western world but that is changing fast.

The World Health Organisation says that cancer kills more than HIV/Aids, tuberculosis and malaria combined.

And the International Agency for Research on Cancer calculates annual new cases of cancer are expected to rise from 11m in 2000 to 16m in 2020, of which which some 70% will be in developing countries.

Increased incidence

Speaking before the conference began, the former British health minister Alan Milburn, who is chairing the conference, said the geography of cancer was indeed changing and that a new cancer epidemic was facing Africa.

"In Africa, literally every day, hundreds, possibly thousands of people die needlessly in pain from cancer for want of pain relief that could cost literally pennies rather than pounds.

"The basic infrastructure and resources to cope with the new health epidemic is basically not there and we have to do something about it. We know that there is a steam train that is coming down the track and we have a choice - we can wither, build some new track or we can wait for the train to hit us."

In some parts of Africa, the increased incidence of cancer is a consequence of economic development and populations that are living longer.

But in other parts, where HIV/Aids is slashing longevity, cancer rates may be rising directly as a result of the HIV/Aids epidemic with cancers such as Kaposi's sarcoma, tumours which appear under the surface of the skin or on mucous membranes, becoming increasingly common.

"HIV/Aids lowers the immunity of a patient and you know that throughout your lifetime the immunity keeps things in balance," Dr Mompati Malane, the head of clinical services in Botswana, told the BBC.

"You know you've got those bad cells that will go wrong and then they get eliminated by the immune system.

"But now with with HIV and immunity lowered, these cells are not killed that quickly and therefore it means that the the abnormal cells will multiply and cause cancer. We are seeing a lot of Karposi sarcomas which was not common in the past and this is mainly due to HIV/Aids."

Of course one of the main problems for Africa is funding for treatments.

For example, radiotherapy is only available in 21 countries in Africa.

But what the delegates were keen to stress as the conference began was that batting cancer is not just about expensive facilities.

Screening, early diagnosis and the uptake of inexpensive drugs were equally important, they said.

Related news:
"Cellphones Catapult Rural Africa to 21st Century"
http://www.nytimes.com/2005/08/25/international/africa/25africa.html?ex=1282622400&en=32b49363eac57aae&ei=5090
Click here to view the source article.
Source: BBC news, Neil Bowdler, 10 May 2007 / info from Kalle Hellberg

Cellphone mast row erupts
South Africa Created: 23 Oct 2006
The latest residents of Devil's Peak to oppose the construction of a cellular panel antenna in their neighbourhood moved into their apartment in June and discovered only last week that the exterior of their bedroom wall was the proposed location for the mast.

"As a young couple in our first home together we are adamant that this mast will not be placed on our bedroom wall," said Jillian Starke. She felt that the R2 800 monthly payment to the body corporate was no compensation for the associated health risks.

Starke said the 3m mast would be 30cm from their heads and not only was the continual close exposure a health concern, but it would be "humming into the night" and had the potential to devalue their property. She sent a letter of outrage to the agent who sold them the property, who also manages the body corporate.

Past chairperson of the Institute of Estate Agents of SA, Bill Rawson, said the exterior of a sectional title building was common property of its body corporate and, as such, it was governed by "house rules".

If property agents knew about body corporate plans, they were obliged to tell their clients, but in many instances they had no idea themselves.

"The message here is that when buying a flat, to find out as much information about the building as possible."

That included obtaining copies of minutes of body corporate meetings.

Last year Dahlia Fox, whose house is across the street from Starkes' flat, rallied her neighbours to object to the proposed mast. Residents appealed to the MEC for Environment, Planning and Economic Development, Tasneem Essop, to overturn permission granted to Vodacom for its construction.

They were still awaiting a response.
Click here to view the source article.
Source: IOL.co.za, Dominique Herman, 29 Sept. 2006

Braelynn Residents say no to Cellphone mast
South Africa Created: 12 Jun 2006
Concerned Braelynn residents have vowed to stop the erection of a cellphone tower near a clinic and a pre-school in their suburb.
"We are determined and that thing will not go up. If it does we will chop it down," said Moonshine pre-school owner Bonnita Reddy, who has more than 40 young children on her premises - less than 150 metres from the proposed site.
Work on the MTN tower began on May 11, continued through to the Sunday and into the evening during last week, residents said. So far the tower's foundations have been dug on the corner of the community hall property.
Last week interviews on television programme Special Assignment with several South Africans who had experienced adverse health effects, such as respiratory problems, allegedly as a result of living near cellphone towers, triggered an uproar in Braelynn.
While there has been no conclusive evidence on whether the electromagnetic radiation that the towers emit is harmful to humans, the World Health Organisation has declared research into the subject a ?high priority?.
And Braelynn locals are determined that they will not form part of this research.
"It is not us I am worried about, it is these babies whom we need to protect," said a visibly upset Reddy.
A spokesperson for the Electro-Magnetic Action Group (Emag), a Johannesburg-based organisation that spreads awareness of the dangers of cellphone towers, warned the Braelynn community not to wait until it was too late.
The South African government does not have a policy on the positioning of cellphone towers in residential areas and Emag spokesperson Vicky Benjamin said that once a cellphone tower is up it is very hard to remove.
"The community has to fight it," said Benjamin, who also believes the towers are especially dangerous for children.
This was because their skulls were thinner than those of adults and the electromagnetic radiation interfered with brain development.
In the United Kingdom, Sir William Stewart, National Radiological Protection Board chairperson, has recommended that towers should not be sited near schools.
However, MTN South Africa's chief technical officer, Phumlani Moholi, said that the consensus of the WHO and the National Department of Health is that there was no substantiated evidence of health effects from the low levels of RF generated by mobile base stations which comply with national and international safety guidelines.
Benjamin warned that there were no hard and fast regulations governing the erection of towers and that many times "they get put on hold, we get told that the technology is moving too fast for legislation."
A municipal spokesperson said that the plans for the cellular tower in Braelynn were approved by the municipality's architecture branch.
Because local municipalities specify and implement their own regulations regarding cellphone towers, the law varies across the country.
Buffalo City's development planning director Craig Sam, confirmed that in Buffalo City there was no special regulation governing the construction of cellphone towers.
"In areas of Gauteng, a notice inviting public objections must be displayed at the site and distributed to surrounding landowners before a cellphone tower can be built.
In a letter to the Daily Dispatch another upset local resident, Norma Willemse, said she was "appalled" by the plans to build the tower and that none of her immediate neighbours had been informed about them.
Willemse's efforts to get an explanation from Buffalo City Municipality have been in vain.
A sister at the nearby clinic said she had not been informed of the plans to build the tower and had only recently found out from the workmen.
Reddy said the total lack of consultation with the community during the planning stages was not acceptable.
Even worse, she said, was the municipality's silence after the decision was made to make a cellphone tower the suburb's dominant landmark.
She said the first time residents realised what was happening was when a neighbour asked the foreman of the construction team what he was working on.
"I couldn't believe that work had begun and nobody knew anything about it," Reddy said.
"How on earth could Craig Sam have passed this? Did he watch Special Assignment?" she asked.
Inet-Bridge
By Tom Mapham, Daily Dispatch, 22 May 2006
Click here to view the source article.
Source: Frans van Velden

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