A Plea for Safer Communication Technology

Anne Gastinger

Free wireless internet is top on the priority list of young Cantabrians in the Christchurch rebuild. They’re not the only ones. Many schools and public facilities are proud to offer this service. Appliances and technology usually come with warnings. The question is, what problems and risks come with WiFi?

First is the commonly known issue of data security. There are risks such as hacking or the possibility of lost data due to super solar storms crippling power grids.

Secondly, it’s an energy guzzler. Melbourne’s Centre for Energy Efficient Telecommunications (CEET) recent report The Power of Wireless Cloud estimates ‘the energy use required to power the cloud and wireless networks will grow up to 460 per cent – the equivalent of putting 4.9 million new cars on the road…’ CEET deputy director and principal research fellow Dr Kerry Hinton says, ‘It’s the modern way but wireless is an energy monster; it’s just inherently inefficient’.

Thirdly, the lesser known but most grave aspect of WiFi and cellular technology is the damaging effect the pulsed microwave frequencies (part of the radio frequency band on the electro-magnetic spectrum) emissions have on the biosphere. The World Health Organisation in May 2011 classified radio frequency radiation (rfr) as a class 2b possible carcinogen. Why? Because ‘Positive associations have been observed between exposure to radiofrequency radiation from wireless phones and glioma and acoustic neuroma.’ The former is a type of brain cancer, the latter a cancer located in the ear canal.

This association was acknowledged in a landmark court judgment (Oct 2012) by the Italian Supreme Court, which ruled that businessman Innocente Marcolini’s brain tumour was caused by his cell phone use. This court’s finding clearly questions the current safety standards set by the International Commission for Protection of Non-Ionising Radiation (ICPNIR). Their standards, which are intended to protect us sufficiently from developing cancer from exposure to from pulsed microwave emissions from cell phone and WiFi radiation, are used by many countries including New Zealand. ICPNIR standards favour the research that finds no significant harmful effects from non-ionising types of radiation. Its stance is that non-thermal (heating) effects are not considered capable of causing harmful biological damage. There is much controversy regarding this stance as evidenced in the research study comparisons undertaken by Prof. Henry Lai from Washington University. He found evidence of research bias when reviewing studies of cell phone biological effects (2006); 69% of non-industry funded studies discovered harmful effects whereas only 29% of Industry funded studies found ill effects.

We assume technologies reliant on radio frequency radiation are safe simply because regulators approve them, governments accordingly sanction them, the market promotes them, consumers embrace them, even our education sector encourages their use in classrooms to enhance student learning. Yet ample scientific evidence demonstrates otherwise. Artificially produced pulsed microwaves emitted from our cell phones, i-pads, wifi routers, ‘smart meters’, wireless baby monitors, DECT portable phones, cell towers and antennas, when communicating, have the capacity to penetrate through glass, metal, concrete and stone. With ease they penetrate the cells of all living organisms, no matter what genus or species. Dr. Andrew Goldsworthy, retired cell biologist from London’s Imperial College, believes the pulsed microwave frequency used in cellular and WiFi technologies are biologically the most harmful on the non-ionising electromagnetic spectrum.

His findings are backed by a substantial body of peer reviewed scientific research documenting causal links from exposure to electromagnetic radiation at levels well below ‘heating effect’ resulting in damage to plant tissue, animals including humans and insects. Evidence of harmful effects include:

  • DNA fragmentation
  • Leakage of the selectively permeable Blood Brain Barrier
  • Removal of structurally important calcium ions
  • Loss of fertility
  • Insomnia
  • Cognitive impairment, learning difficulties
  • Electro hypersensitivity in humans

Due to industry and consumer demand finding escape from RF exposure is becoming increasingly difficult, even those who chose not to have wireless routers or wireless smart meters in their house may be covered by their neighours’ wireless emissions. These constant exposures to numerous often overlapping sources of radio frequency radiation pervading the environment are considered both cumulative and synergetic in their negative effects on living organisms.

In the wake of numerous international resolutions and repeals by hundreds of physicians and scientists demanding safer electromagnetic frequency standards, the European Parliament in 2009 voted with overwhelming majority a ‘for stricter regulation and protection for residents and consumers.’ Fifty-five years ago Russia adopted non-thermal safety measures. Since then China, Poland, Japan, Italy, Switzerland and Argentina have opted for more conservative limits than those of the ICNIRP.

We, individually and as a community, our industries, businesses, government agencies and regulatory bodies, need to re-examine our use of wireless technologies. Let’s take a precautionary approach and adopt more conservative radio frequency standards. At an individual level, let us opt for cabled internet as opposed to WiFi internet, use a landline in first preference to a cell phone.

As Christians, we are called to be socially and politically relevant and environmentally responsible. The health of our planet and its future inhabitants come before lucrative economic growth, jobs, technological advances and huge corporate profits. There is enough disturbing scientific evidence documenting how these non-ionising frequencies are capable of harming life in myriad ways. Let’s begin today by minimising our use of wireless technologies.

Annie Gastinger is a writer from Christchurch. For further information on this topic she highly recommends these books: Overpowered, by Dr. Martin Blank (2014) and Electronic Silent Spring, by Katie Singer (2014)

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