Film to highlight mobile phone health risks
Radio frequency fields from mobile phones are “possibly” carcinogenic to humans based on an increased risk of certain brain tumours, according to the World Health Organisation.
University of Albany, New York professor David Carpenter, believes the WHO needs to increase its risk grading.
The neurologist will be speaking tonight by Skype at a BUEI screening of the film Generation Zapped — about the risks of electromagnetic radiation from mobile phones and mobile phone towers.
“The reason the WHO didn't grade radio frequency fields as a stronger carcinogen was the lack of good animal data,” said Dr Carpenter, who is the director of the Institute for Health and the Environment at the University at Albany. “Now we have the animal data in conjunction with the human data. I find that quite definitive.”
Dr Carpenter has edited two books on the subject, reviewed countless scientific papers about it, and sat on various committees in the United States.
As an authority on the topic, Dr Carpenter gets a lot of sceptical messages. Some opponents claim there are no scientific data to prove that EMRs from mobile phones are dangerous to humans.
“That is absolutely false and total nonsense,” he said. “The only people who would make a statement like that are people who don't read the scientific studies that have been published.”
He furnished The Royal Gazette with four articles from scientific journals.
In one Swedish study published in Reviews on Environmental Health in 2013, oncologists Lennart Hardell and Michael Carlberg concluded that glioma and acoustic neuromas, rare types of brain tumours, are caused by RF-EMF emissions from wireless phones.
“Urgent revision of current guidelines for exposure is needed,” the report stated.
“The American Federal Communications Commission has standards that are set to say that the only possible harm that can come from radio frequency radiation is if you are cooking your brain like in a microwave oven,” Dr Carpenter said.
However, he believed there was real risk for people, particularly those who hold their mobile phone close to their ear, frequently, over a long time period, such as ten years or more.
The risk diminishes the further the user holds the mobile phone away from their body while using it.
“If you are texting and you have your phone away from your body by a foot or so, the exposure to your brain is much less,” Dr Carpenter said.
He urged people to use a landline, whenever possible, or to use a wire ear piece to keep the mobile phone at arms length when a landline isn't available.
Dr Carpenter is no stranger to Bermuda. Years ago he worked as a scientist at the Bermuda Institute for Ocean Sciences, studying the brains of sea snails.
“I had wonderful times there,” he said.
He said it is an “appropriate” time to discuss the topic in Bermuda because the island is considering implementing a 5G radio frequency network in Bermuda.
“We haven't studied those higher frequencies yet,” he said. “When there is a reason to be concerned we should be careful before we roll out some new thing we don't have evidence as to whether or not it is safe.”
He said at one level, 5G might actually be less dangerous than existing 3G and 4G networks.
“5G frequencies don't travel as far,” he said. “If it is rolled out you have to have these mini cell towers that are placed about every 200 metres. If it was only 5G radiation generated there, we know 5G can be blocked by trees, weather, it won't penetrate glass. It probably doesn't go into your brain, although there may be effects on skin and eyes.
“The problem is no one is going immediately to 5G. The proposal is that these mini cell towers will also generate 3G and 4G, and those we know to be dangerous.” He got “roped” into the electromagnetic field 40 years ago.
“I came to New York in 1980 as the director of the New York Health Department laboratories,” he said. “Just before I arrived here there was a settlement between the State Public Service Commission and the State Power Authority over concerns about the possibility that magnetic fields from electricity might increase the risk of leukaemia in children. The state public service commission accessed money from the state utilities for a research programme.”
After administering the programme for seven years, he became the spokesperson for New York State on the issue of health effects of EMR.
Generation Zapped will screen tonight at the Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute at 7.30pm.
• Tickets are $15 for members of the BUEI, $20 for non-members and $12 for students. Tickets are available by calling 294-0204 or by visiting the BUEI gift shop. For more information see www.buei.bm