17th January 2006
Concerns regarding the possibility that children may be more susceptible to the effects of microwave radiation have already be addressed by the media and the public have been warned about the possible health risks that their children may face from substantial use of mobile phones.
It should be noted that while intensity of radiation from base stations may be less, those living or going to school near the site will be subjected to more continuous exposure. Again, quoting from the Dr. Mae-Wan Ho’s report in the Institute of Science and Society’s miniseries on electromagnetic radiation:
‘A base station antenna typically radiates 60W. [It] produces a beam which is much more directional (than the antenna of a handset). In addition, the stations have subsidiary beams called side-lobes, into which a small fraction of the emitted power is channelled. At 150 to 200m, the power density in the main beam near the ground is typically tenths of μWatt/cm2.’
But even this seemingly low level is of concern to Dr. Gerard Hyland, a physicist at the University of Warwick. He points out that some experiments are indicating non-thermal thresholds for biological effect of the order of μWatt/cm2 and that adverse effects have been reported at power densities a few tenths of that value at distances of 150-200m from a typical 15m high base station.
In a paper published in November 2000, Dr. Hyland reflects on some of the non-thermal effects of low-intensity pulsed microwave radiation on the brain, particularly ‘the way in which this radiation affects brain function-specifically its electrical activity (EEG), its electrochemistry, and the blood brain barrier.’ He notes possible connection to reported incidents of headache, sleep disruption and memory problems by some users of mobile phones as well as by some people involuntarily subjected to long-term exposure to the radiation from a base-station.
He adds ‘Quite apart from their weaker immune systems, children are particularly vulnerable because of the increased rate at which their cells divide (which makes them more susceptible to genetic damage) and their still developing nervous system – the size of their heads and the thinness of their skulls causing them to absorb more radiation than do adults. Particularly vulnerable to interference by the pulses of the microwaves is their electrical brainwave activity which does not settle into a stable pattern until about the age of 11 or 12 years. The use of mobile phones by pre-adolescent children is thus to be strongly discouraged, and the siting of base-station masts in the vicinity of schools and nurseries resisted.’
If this application is accepted, this will represent the THIRD telecommunications station in the vicinity of not one, but two schools, one which is a junior school whose students are below 11 years of age.
There has been conflicting debate among the scientific community regarding the non-thermal effects of microwave radiation on the public. However, biological effects have been document in both in vitro and in vivo experiments. In fact, Dr. Neil Cherry, an acknowledged authority on the non-thermal effects of microwave and radiofrequency radiation and signer of the Vienna Report who is based in New Zealand has stated: ‘To claim that there are no non-thermal mechanisms for the interaction of weak RF/MW signals with human and animal organs and cells is simply not scientifically credible.’
Though the National Radiological Protection Board (NRPB) insists that there is no persuasive evidence to indicate that there is any risk from the very weak levels of electromagnetic radiation produced by the base-stations, the Local Government Association has stated that it believes the NRPB’s approach to be unacceptable and further noted that the NRPB states simply that it believes that ‘there is no convincing evidence’ and not that there is no evidence.
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