Print

Electromagnetic Radiation

An introduction

Blairgowrie has been in the spotlight in the past few years in terms of the debate around electromagnetic radiation, which has included coverage on Carte Blanche. The debate started several years ago when the City of Joburg used Blairgowrie as a ‘suburb test case’ for the rollout of the Hefcom Smart Meters, which we alleged, at the time, were not even SABS approved and were thought to be problematic in terms of their emissions relating to the smart meter components, especially regarding the unit contained in the house with LED display.

The City neglected to consult residents properly before the rollout and it was felt that our basic Human Rights had been ignored. Other related issues included cell phone companies being allowed to erect cell towers & masts wherever they pleased in Joburg without clarity as to the suspected health risks for residents living in close proximity not to mention for school children at schools where masts were erected.

Allow us to state that the BCA Committee is not in agreement on this issue, which is alright, because this reflects the opinions of Blairfolk who are also divided on the matter. The below has been painstakingly researched and carefully compiled by the BCA’s Electromagnetic Radiation team. It is Without Prejudice and is for your information and reading purposes – you will decide, for yourself, where you might stand on the matter. Allow us also to state that the BCA is in favour of technology… safe technology.

Blairgowre Smart Meter Summary and Update

South African policy relating to cell masts et al

EIA Regulations 2010, came into effect on 2 August 2010 and allow the erection of cell phone masts/ broadband/wimax/wifi antennae and microwave transmitters in urban areas without an Environmental Impact Assessment.

This is because these forms of activities “are no longer listed”, therefore denying the citizens the opportunity of objecting. The following needs have arisen when applications for these masts are processed.

  • That the EIA Regulations of 2/8/2010 be reversed as a short term solution
  • Public participation be a requirement to ensure that residents’ health concerns are considered
  • That noise pollution, electrosmog and aesthetics be taken into consideration
  • That impact on property values are investigated

Topic approach:

Decide for yourself. Read broadly including peer-reviewed articles and non-peer-reviewed articles. Read with discernment. Whether peer-reviewed or not, articles may have value, they may not. Articles may be outdated and have value, they may outdated and have reduced value. Check author credentials, check critic credentials. Should links below expire, do your own web-search. Do your own search anyway.

EMR  - a definition:

“You cannot see it, taste it or smell it, but it is one of the most pervasive environmental exposures in industrialized countries today. Electromagnetic radiation (EMR) or electromagnetic fields (EMFs) are the terms that broadly describe exposures created by the vast array of wired and wireless technologies that have altered the landscape of our lives in countless beneficial ways. However, these technologies were designed to maximize energy efficiency and convenience; not with biological effects on people in mind. Based on new studies, there is growing evidence among scientists and the public about possible health risks associated with these technologies.” From: reference

EMR - a more detailed definition by the World Health Organisation (WHO)

Wireless Technologies/sources:

  • Inclusive but not limited to smart meters, WiFi, cellular phones, Bluetooth, cordless phones – these fall within the non-ionizing spectrum
  • Graphic representation

Spectrum information

Standards and Policy:

South Africa:

  1. South Africa does not have its own set of standards but reportedly loosely follows international recommendations as per ICNIRP. South African constitutional law (click here for link) states that the individual has rights to a safe environment (Constitution Section S24 Environment, points a and b) and to not be experimented on (Constitution Section S12 Freedom and Security of the person, points 2 and 2 c).Where a technology has not been proven safe or where there is debate regarding its safety, where the technology is applied may be considered as experimenting on the individual(s).
  2. Olle Johansson - Letter to SA government
  3. EIA Regulations 2010
    1. EIA Regulations 2010 came into effect on 2 August 2010 and allow the erection of cell phone masts/ broadband/wimax/wifi antennae and microwave transmitters in urban areas without an Environmental Impact Assessment. This is because these forms of activities “are no longer listed”, therefore denying the citizens the opportunity of objecting. The following needs have arisen when applications for these masts are processed.
      1. That the EIA Regulations of 2/8/2010 be reversed as a short term solution
      2. Public participation be a requirement to ensure that residents’ health concerns are considered
      3. That noise pollution, electrosmog and aesthetics be taken into consideration
      4. That impact on property values are investigated

The World Health Organisation (WHO)

A framework for developing EMF health-based standards

International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC)

The IARC classifies radiofrequency electromagnetic fields as possibly carcinogenic to humans. Click here to read more

Council of Europe

Click for more informationClick for more information

INTERNATIONAL COMMISSION ON NON‐IONIZING RADIATION PROTECTION (ICNIRP)

ICNIRP STATEMENT GENERAL APPROACH TO PROTECTION AGAINST NON‐IONIZING RADIATION PROTECTION

ICNIRP standards are based on thermal heating effects of short duration and SAR (Specific Absorption Rate). ICNIRP 1998 p. 496 (currently unchanged according to any recent ICNIRP updates) "these guidelines are based on short-term, immediate health effects such as stimulation of peripheral nerves and muscles, shocks and burns caused by touching conducting objects, and elevated tissue temperatures resulting from absorption of energy during exposure to EMF."

Click here to read the ICNIRP Guidelines

Scientists have and are calling for the standards to be revised in view of the evidence that exists to date regarding health risk. Most of our wireless technology exposure is long term and in many instances continuous e.g. WiFi  applications in the workplace with routers continually activated.

According to the Seletun Report "SAR (Specific Absorption Rate) is not an adequate approach to predict many important biologic effects in studies that report increased risks for neurological diseases, impairments to immune function, fertility and reproduction, and neurological function (cognition, behaviour, performance, mood status, disruption of sleep, increased risk for auto collisions, etc); SAR fails to adequately address known effects  from modulation. " and on p. 5 "Present guidelines, such as IEEE, FCC, and ICNIRP, are not adequate to protect humans from harmful effects of chronic EMF exposure.

The existing scientific knowledge is, however, not sufficient at this stage to formulate final and definite science-based guidelines for all these fields and conditions, particularly for such chronic exposure as well as contributions of the different parameters of the fields, e.g. frequency, modulation, intensity, and window effects." 

Further passages directly from ICNIRP General Approach Guidelines 1998 and 2002 and still referred to now by ICNIRP, current documented changes refer back to the 1998 ICNIRP document:

  1. Under "Special considerations for pulsed and amplitude-modulated waveforms" p.506 (such as WiFi) (1998) Click here to read the ICNIRP General Approach to NIR
    1. "The issue of a thermal interactions of high-frequency EMF has centered largely on reports of biological effects of amplitude modulated (AM) fields under in-vitro conditions at SAR values well below those that produce measurable tissue heating."
  2. Under "General Approach to Protection Against Non-Ionizing Radiation"p. 546 (2002) of the ICNIRP General Approach to NIR (the link is above) "People being protected”
    1. “Different groups in a population may have differences in their ability to tolerate a particular NIR exposure. For example, children, the elderly, and some chronically ill people might have a lower tolerance for one or more forms of NIR exposure than the rest of the population. Under such circumstances, it may be useful or necessary to develop separate guideline levels for different groups within the general population, but it may be more effective to adjust the guidelines for the general population to include such groups. Some guidelines may still not provide adequate protection for certain sensitive individuals nor for normal individuals exposed concomitantly to other agents, which may exacerbate the effect of the NIR exposure, an example being individuals with photosensitivity. Where such situations have been identified, appropriate specific advice should be developed-within the context of scientific knowledge."

 

Council of Europe

 

Precautionary Principle

The Precautionary Principle states that:
 
United Nations Environment Programme - Principle 15

 “In order to protect the environment, the precautionary approach shall be widely applied by States according to their capability. Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation.”

"There are many examples of the failure to use the precautionary principle in the past, which have resulted in serious and often irreversible damage to health and environments. Appropriate, precautionary and proportionate actions taken now to avoid plausible and potentially serious threats to health from EMF are likely to be seen as prudent and wise from future perspectives”. 

Click here to read more

EMR and Children

The Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency’s advice (ARPANSA Factsheet 14 updated June 2013) on reducing wireless radiation explores the implications of children using wireless devices such as iPads, at home and at school. Click below to watch a video on this

DEVELOPING POLICY FOR CHILDREN AND PREGNANT WOMEN

In today’s world, technologic developments bring both social and economic benefits to large sections of society; however, the health consequences of these developments can be difficult to predict and manage. Nevertheless, even if the effects are small, a widespread exposure can have large public health consequences. When risks are complex, an established cause-effect relationship is absent, or the scientific findings are not robustly quantifiable, the need for timely preventive action makes a precautionary approach an essential part of policy making. Many societies believe that this is particularly true regarding children (including the unborn child): they represent the future of the society, have the potential for longer exposure than adults, and yet are less able to manage their own risk. International guidance on occupational and public exposure to EMFs, described above, is based on avoiding risks to health that are well understood and for which there is good scientific evidence. However, with regard to childhood exposure to EMFs (and exposure during pregnancy), several factors argue for the adoption of precautionary measures, including the possibility that EMFs might affect children; the dread with which some of the diseases raised in this context, such as leukemia and brain cancer, are perceived; the involuntary nature of some of the exposure; its extensiveness; and its likely rapid growth in the future. The WHO International EMF Project (www.who.int/emf) is finalizing a practical framework for guiding policy options in areas of scientific uncertainty that is based on the application of precaution.68 In general terms, the draft WHO precautionary framework aims to develop a set of public health policy options that can be applied according to the degree of scientific uncertainty and the anticipated severity of the harm that might ensue from exposure, taking into account the size of the affected population and the cost of exposure reduction. These measures should not be seen as undermining science-based guidance on exposure; rather, they represent additional steps with application that may vary from country to country depending on social and economic considerations. Precautionary measures may also be adopted at an individual level…”

Click here to read more

“In addition to reviewing the available evidence summarized in this article, workshop participants developed a research agenda that identifies high priority studies needed to fully assess the potential vulnerability of children to ELF and RF fields and outlines the rationale for these studies (see www.who.int/peh-emf/research/rf03/en for more details). Additional laboratory and epidemiologic studies relating to childhood leukemia and ELF magnetic field exposure were strongly recommended. In addition, because of widespread use of mobile phones and relatively high exposures to the brain among children and adolescents, investigation of the potential effects of RF fields on cognition and the development of childhood brain tumors was considered particularly urgent….” Pediatrics Article, EMR and children e28b044c38.pdf

Martha Herbert Martha Herbert, PhD, MD, Pediatric Neurology, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School

The Debate:

  • The issues, already alluded to under Standards and Policy above. Click here to read more.
  • The issues are not based on public demand but on public protection and individual rights to a safe environment.
  • World Concerns. Click here to read more.
  • Click here for the Seletun Report
  • See the above-mentioned The Precautionary Principle

PROS

General:

  1. BBC Uses of wireless technology
  2. Toshiba: Benefits of wireless technology

Reduced installation costs  - click here to read

Smart meters - click here to read

CONS

Security issues:

  1.       BBC news
  2. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8JNFr_j6kdI

Health concerns:

  1. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classifies radiofrequency electromagnetic fields as possibly carcinogenic to humans. Read more
  2. World Concerns. Read more
  3. Council of Europe. Read more
  4. Seletun Report
  5. Developing policy for children and pregnant women - click here
  6. Health Issues (Public Health Implications of Wireless Technologies) - click here

.

To object to a cell tower or City of Joburg WiFi installation:

Write a letter of objection (include a delivery and read receipt from your email options for proof of receipt) to:

  1. the service provider and…
  2. town planners as per their notification to the ward councillors and public (email address to be obtained from their letter of notification)
  3. M.M. Mfikoe, MMC: Infrastructure and Services on
  4. Lichaba, Dietla, Chairperson: Infrastructure and Services on
  5. Molwele, Nonceba A, MMC:Health and Social Development on and…
  6. Sonja Pretorius, JHB City Operational Manager: Technical Evaluation Signage at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.   and…
  7. Roslynn J Greeff, MMC Development Planning on  
  8. copy the BCA on    This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.    and…
  9. copy your Ward Councillor
    1. David Potter for ward 102 on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
    2. Tim Truluck for ward 117 on  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
    3. Bruce Herbert for ward 99 on   This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

As JHB City Officials may change, please consult an updated list

Other sites of interest:

http://www.bioinitiative.org/report/wp-content/uploads/pdfs/BioInitiativeReport2012.pdf

http://www.emrrfsa.org/

http://media.withtank.com/a94ef2ec88/bioinitiativepressrelease1-1-2013.pdf

http://media.withtank.com/548359acf1.pdf

http://www.mcsresearch.net/bioinititiativetable.pdf

 

 

  • Image-3
  • Image-18
  • Image-11
  • Image-7
  • Image-13
  • Image-15
  • Image-9
  • Image-1
  • Image-17
  • Image-4
  • Image-8
  • Image-6
  • Image-12
  • Image-14
  • Image-5
  • Image-2
  • Image-16
  • Image-10