KERRY O'BRIEN: Mobile phone manufacturers were reluctant to participate in this program. And Health Minister Michael Wooldridge, who is responsible for regulating safety standards, explained he didn't participate in panel discussions. But we're joined tonight by three scientists who are experts in the field.
From Nottingham, England, I'm joined by Professor Lawrie Challis, emeritus professor of physics at Nottingham University and vice-chairman of the Stewart Group.
In Melbourne, Dr Andrew Wood, a biophysicist from Swinburne University.
He's finalising two studies into the health effects of mobile phones -- one funded in part by Telstra, the other, part of an international study by the World Health Organisation.
And, in Sydney, Dr Peter French, a cell biologist from Saint Vincent's Hospital's Centre for Immunology. Dr French is researching the biological effects of electromagnetic fields.
Gentlemen, welcome to the program.
KERRY O'BRIEN: Peter French, what fundamental concerns do you have about the safety of mobile phones?
DR PETER FRENCH, CELL BIOLOGIST, CENTRE FOR IMMUNOLOGY: I think that that report demonstrates the way that the field has evolved over the past five years. Initially, the results or fears were greeted with scepticism because it was inherently assumed by all, including the industry, that low-power fields, such as those produced by mobile phones, were biologically inert. We now know -- and I think the Stewart report stated that fairly clearly -- that biological effects from those sorts of fields are now a reality, demonstrable by us and by several groups around the world. The question is, if the first assumption -- that is, that effects on biological systems are not present from this sort of radiation -- is found to be wrong, there's a second assumption, that there are no adverse health effects, also going to be proven to be wrong once we know more.
And I think that's the nub of the question now.
KERRY O'BRIEN: But, right at this moment, you don't dispute that there is no conclusive proof of health effects from mobile phones?
DR PETER FRENCH: I think that conclusive proof is still a fair way away.
But I believe that there is sufficient biological evidence now to be able to postulate a mechanism which can lead to serious adverse health effects, including, but not restricted to, cancer.
KERRY O'BRIEN: Andrew Wood, from your work, do you have any concerns that there is risk in the use of mobile phones or not?
DR ANDREW WOOD, SWINBURNE UNIVERSITY: Well, the experiments that we have done have been looking at whether the calcium levels in cells are altered by mobile phone radiation. Certainly we've had no indication in those experiments that there are any changes. I must say that these sorts of experiments that have been reported for about 25 years, so it's not as if we've suddenly come across this problem.
KERRY O'BRIEN: And, given all of your knowledge of that previous research and your own work, how clearly can you postulate whether you believe there's any risk or not?
DR ANDREW WOOD: I think one of the difficulties always is to try and estimate what the actual absorption is in tissue. Certainly, in our own study, we spent a long time using mathematical modelling techniques to work out exactly what the amount of absorbed energy was in the sample. And there always is this question as to whether we're really looking at levels that are so-called non-thermal -- that is, below the level that you'd expect some sort of heating to occur.
KERRY O'BRIEN: OK, but where Peter French is prepared to acknowledge that there is yet no evidence to say conclusively that there is risk, I assume equally you're prepared to acknowledge that there is no conclusive evidence that there is no risk.
DR ANDREW WOOD: It's difficult to prove a negative, always. Certainly, the effects that we understand well -- that is, the heating effects of tissue -- are really well understood. The question really is whether there are other effects that aren't due to tissue heating. But really there's been no clear indication of what that mechanism might be. It's very hard if we don't know what the mechanism is to be able to evaluate whether such effects are occurring.
KERRY O'BRIEN: Lawrie Challis, from your perspective as vice-chairman of the Stewart Group in Britain, reviewing all of the evidence, how do you react to what you've heard so far tonight?
PROFESSOR LAWRIE CHALLIS, STEWART GROUP: Well, I don't disagree with what's been said tonight. But I think that we looked at about 430 scientific papers in this field. And we came to the conclusion that there is no strong convincing evidence that there are health effects. However, we also feel that there may well be biological effects. I think one really needs to distinguish between biological effects and health effects. We can see each other. That's a biological effect -- at the light levels we can see. But, if we shine a laser or look at the sun in our eyes, then we produce health effects. That's a pretty obvious statement. That's the distinction between a biological effect, which is helpful to us and -- or certainly not intrusive -- and a harmful effect, which obviously we want to avoid. We just don't know where we are on that range.
KERRY O'BRIEN: To what extent was your group influenced by that finding, that recognition that mobile phones do create, or can create, or might create some biological effect?
PROFESSOR LAWRIE CHALLIS: We were influenced by that. We clearly feel that is an important pointer. Till a few years ago, I don't think we would recognise that we could detect -- our bodies could detect biological effects from this sort of radiation at this sort of level. Now we believe we can, and so we clearly need to do more work to find out are there any health affects associated with that.
KERRY O'BRIEN: Andrew Wood, you accept, don't you, that mobile phones may cause some biological effects?
DR ANDREW WOOD: Well, certainly, there have been a number of studies showing that human ability to do things like intelligence tests and memory tests seem to be altered. Again, that is a biological effect. I guess, it's difficult to make an estimate as to whether that would constitute a health effect.
KERRY O'BRIEN: But, where I think for a long time the telecommunications industry has tendered to argue that there was no biological effect, that is a significant finding, isn't it?
DR ANDREW WOOD: I must say that, if you look at the studies that are reporting this, there are some important differences in their findings. They're not entirely consistent. Their findings may in fact be due to a statistical fluke, if you like. It could be just due to chance.
KERRY O'BRIEN: Peter French, what significance do you read into biological effects from mobile phones?
DR PETER FRENCH: I think that what Andrew has just said is very important to bear in mind -- that is, that mobile phone radiation is not inert. It can produce physiological effects in people. As Andrew says, that doesn't necessarily lead to an adverse health effect. But, given the fact that energy is being deposited into the brain from mobile phones, what else might it be doing? I think there's some very interesting work that's been done in cells and in animals which shows that there may be a fundamental mechanism common to all those findings that could indeed lead to an adverse health effect for a significant number of people.
KERRY O'BRIEN: Lawrie Challis, I assume that that was why, in the end, you came down with what you've called a cautionary approach -- that is, you've given some benefit of the doubt to the possibility that there may be risks.
PROFESSOR LAWRIE CHALLIS: We felt that, on balance, the position was such that the consumer, the user, should have a transparent view, should have a clear view of what the situation is. We felt that the sort of advice we gave -- I don't know if you want me to go through the advice we gave -- but certainly we recommended people should use them less, particularly children. And we recommended that people should use a phone that gives them less exposure -- and shortly we shall have good information on how much each phone gives out. And a whole series of things which I can go through if you wish.
KERRY O'BRIEN: What about the issue of the placement of mobile phone towers because many of them you will see, certainly in this country, next door to kindergartens or fire stations or smack in the middle of residential areas, playing fields, clubs and so on.
PROFESSOR LAWRIE CHALLIS: Well, I think the first thing to recognise is that -- I mean, certainly in the UK we have five public meetings. Certainly in the UK it was very clear this issue of masts produce more public concern, than the issue of phones, which is obviously a bit paradoxical because the exposure you get from a mast is probably 1,000 or times or more below guideline levels whereas from a phone, as I've said, it's approaching guideline levels. So it's a little paradoxical. Even so, we felt that, because there was so much public concern about this, the Government need to respond to this concern. And we did advise that care should be taken in the neighbourhood -- in sensitive areas such as schools. I think there's another point that really needs to be made that we didn't make in the report and I regret it. If you reduce the amount of radiation, the amount of strength of the radio waves that a user is getting, the user's phone will beam up. So, if you are a person, say a child in a school play ground, you're going to get far more radiation from your phone if the mast is from a long way away than if the mast is relatively nearby. So you've really got to balance that one.
KERRY O'BRIEN: Peter French, briefly.
DR PETER FRENCH: I think the real issue is the concern with mobile phones. I think the amount of power that one gets from mobile phone masts is very much less and likely to be biologically inert.
KERRY O'BRIEN: There's also been some controversy about whether the hands-free use of mobile phones is a positive or a negative, whether it's riskier or less risky.
PROFESSOR LAWRIE CHALLIS: I'm personally believe it is possible to design a hands-free kit that will reduce the exposure to the head. But, of course, the present set of hands-free kits were not designed to reduce the exposure to the head since it's well within the guidelines, they were intended to allow you to use them hands-free. So they weren't really the optimum design perhaps for reducing exposure to the head. I'm sure they can be done. And we need to do that work very fast.
KERRY O'BRIEN: Very briefly, Andrew Wood or Peter French, does either of you have a view on this?
DR ANDREW WOOD: Well, I'm aware of two studies done here in Australia on hands-free kits and they both show a substantial reduction of radiation to the head -- something like 94 per cent.
KERRY O'BRIEN: Peter French, briefly.
DR PETER FRENCH: All I can say is that I use a hands-free kit.
Informant: Robert Riedlinger
Omega some links:
BRIEF SYNOPSIS OF THE DANGERS OF EMF’S AND MOBILE PHONE MASTS AND HOW THEY CAN AFFECT OUR HEALTH
Compiled by Steve Gamble
Mobile Phone Masts:
Blot on the Horizon or Health Threat
Mobile Phone Radiation
Mobile Phone Adverse Health Concerns
City wide DECT network in Oradea (Grosswardein), Romania, Eastern Europe
Iris gave your address to me. My city's problem is described here in English:
I was shocked by this phrase:
"Atlas Telecom's CEO and chairman for Central and Eastern Europe, Pompiliu S. Tripa, says this is also the first DECT metropolitan network in the world."
Why in Oradea, Romania, where the cancer is already the leading "killer" ?! Why not in some western country with well developed technologies and lots of money ?
I'd like to found out if there are other DECT metropolitan networks used as Wireless Local Loop (WLL) around the world and are they dangerous or not.
I know there are many DECT users in China and Taiwan, but in Germany too.
You can inform everybody about this "first DECT metropolitan network in the world" and I wait for peoples reaction.
P.S. You can find a thread about this problem here:
Sorry, it's mostly in romanian, but there are quotes from Iris too, and from other wevsites also.
Another thread about GSM "mast sanity" is here:
Same remark as above.
Informant: DECT VICTIMA
Pictures of Neil Cherry
and more of Neil's Life
Informant: Iris Atzmon
RE: Sprint is coming to town; Berkeley, California
Of course you should go! And you should steal the floor and put out GOOD information and not personal "concerns".
And you should bring your own expert to slam-dunk any false scientific or legal claims they might make. You should leaflet people there with fact sheets from which they can quote, and which preemptively disprove what Sprint will say.
What's the date?
And what do they say the agenda will be?
Informant: Susan Clarke
and the answer:
The news from Berkeley, California is that Sprint plans to talk about
disguising the antennas as chimneys. You see, they plan to bypass all other concerns.
The info session by Sprint is on August 7, at the North Berkeley Senior Center. We wish lots of people go to the meeting.
How much melatonin to take?
Can someone please tell me how much melatonin to take so that i wont wake up at 2-3am and not fall back to sleep? i am already exhuasted and this lack of sleep is to much.
thank you kindly
THE WTO UNMASKED
Greenpeace Activist News, Vol. 3, No. 7
1 August 2003 (excerpt)
With the next World Trade Organisation meeting in Cancun coming up during 11-14 September, here are a few things you can do to protest the WTO's prioritisation of corporate profits over the health of our planet and its people.
Genetically engineered food by Bush & Co.
The US and corporations behind genetically engineered (GE) food are using the World Trade Organisation to tell the world what to eat and where to buy it from.
Supported by Canada and Argentina, the US is trying to use the WTO to challenge the European Union's policy on genetically modified organisms (GMOs) - a policy that is the strictest in the world. The US challenge amounts to a scare tactic to "encourage" countries to open their markets to GE food. Many countries fear that if they reject GMOs, they will be met with huge trade sanctions potentially worth hundreds of millions, or even billions of dollars.
Introducing "Genetically engineered food by Bush & Co.". Political cartoonist Mark Fiore has designed this great e-card for us to protest corporate attempts to take over our food chain. Support the global movement for the right to say no to GMOs and spread the word by sending it to your friends and colleagues:
While you’re sending those e-cards, don’t forget to take part in the
cyberaction to tell Argentina and Canada to stop supporting the US war on
consumers, farmers and the environment:
Suit challenges constitutionality of Patriot Act
About those WMDs
Seven more cases of "Gulf Syndrome II"
Cheney's "irresponsible" speech
Answerable to no one
Informant: Thomas L. Knapp
HOPE OUT OF QUAGMIRE
Informant: Carol Wolman
Rep. Henry Waxman Tightens the Evidentiary Noose Around Nat'l Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice
Citizens' Initiative Omega