New Internationalist

Electromagnetic exposure: real risks or paranoia?

July 2002

More and more studies are showing serious adverse health effects caused by electromagnetic fields (EMFs). Completed research now includes multiple studies that have linked power lines with childhood cancers; computer exposure with miscarriages; and EMF exposure of workers in high-exposure occupations (such as electrical workers) with cancer and congenital problems in their children. Over 90 studies have also concluded that mobile phones cause cancers and have cardiac, reproductive and neurological effects. Despite these findings, many insiders maintain the jury is still out. Failure to acknowledge a possible problem means that ways to prevent adverse health effects from EMF exposure are presently being ignored. According to Dr Neil Cherry, Senior Lecturer in Biomedical Health at Lincoln University in Aotearoa/New Zealand: ‘Technology exists to make mobile and cordless phones 20 times safer, and patents have been taken out on this technology. But companies won’t change as that would mean admitting that mobiles are currently dangerous.’

Industry influence could also be having an impact. Cherry says that ‘80 per cent of research is financed by industry’ and that ‘certain independent advisers on committees have industry links’. This could explain recent changes to Italian legislation. The current Italian Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi, owns three TV stations. Since his election, the acceptable limit for EMF exposure in Italy has been raised.

Clare Doube

Front cover of New Internationalist magazine, issue 347 This column was published in the July 2002 issue of New Internationalist. To read more, buy this issue or subscribe.

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