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Radiation From Cell Phones and WiFi Are Making People Sick -- Are We All at Risk?

We are now exposed to electromagnetic radio frequencies 24 hours a day. Welcome to the largest human experiment ever.

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The major public-health watchdogs, in the US and worldwide, have dismissed concerns about it. "Current evidence," the World Health Organization (WHO) says, "does not confirm the existence of any health consequences from exposure to low level electromagnetic fields." (The WHO thus contradicts the findings of one of its own research units.) The US Federal Communications Commission has made similar statements. The American Cancer Society reports that "most studies published so far have not found a link between cell phone use and the development of tumors." The cell phone industry's lobbying organization, CTIA-The Wireless Association, assures the public that cell phone radiation is safe, citing studies -- many of them funded by the telecom industry -- that show no risk.

Published meta-reviews of hundreds of such studies suggest that industry funding tends to skew results. According to a survey by Henry Lai, a research professor at University of Washington, only 28 percent of studies funded by the wireless industry showed some type of biological effect from cell phone radiation. Meanwhile, independently funded studies produce an altogether different set of data: 67 percent of those studies showed a bioeffect. The Safe Wireless Initiative, a research group in Washington, DC that has since closed down, unpacked the data in hundreds of studies on wireless health risks, arraying them in terms of funding source. "Our data show that mobile phone industry funded/influenced work is six times more likely to find 'no problem' than independently funded work," the group noted. "The industry thus has significantly contaminated the scientific evidence pool."

The evidence about the long-term public health risks of exposure to RF-EMFs may be contradictory. Yet it is clear that some people are getting sick when heavily exposed to the new radiofrequencies. And we are not listening to their complaints.

Take the story of Michele Hertz. When a local utility company installed a wireless digital meter -- better known as a "smart" meter -- on her house in upstate New York in the summer of 2009, Hertz thought little of it. Then she began to feel odd. She was a practiced sculptor, but now she could not sculpt. "I couldn't concentrate, I couldn't sleep, I couldn't even finish sentences," she told me. Hertz experienced "incredible memory loss," and, at the age of 51, feared she had come down with Alzheimer's.

One night during a snowstorm in 2010 her house lost power, and when it came back on her head exploded with a ringing sound -- "a terrible piercing." A buzzing in her head persisted. She took to sleeping on the floor of her kitchen that winter, where the refrigerator drowned out the keening. There were other symptoms: headaches and nausea and dizziness, persistent and always worsening. "Sometimes I'd wake up with my heart pounding uncontrollably," she told me. "I thought I would have a heart attack. I had nightmares that people were killing me."

Roughly one year after the installation of the wireless meters, with the help of an electrician, Hertz thought she had figured out the source of the trouble: It had to be something electrical in the house. On a hunch, she told the utility company, Con Edison of New York, to remove the wireless meter. She told them: "I will die if you do not install an analog meter." Within days, the worst symptoms disappeared. "People look at me like I'm crazy when I talk about this," Hertz says.

Her exposure to the meters has super-sensitized Hertz to all kinds of other EMF sources. "The smart meters threw me over the electronic edge," she says. A cell phone switched on in the same room now gives her a headache. Stepping into a house with wi-fi is intolerable. Passing a cell tower on the street hurts. "Sometimes if the radiation is very strong my fingers curl up," she says. "I can now hear cell phones ringing on silent. Life," she says, "has dramatically changed."

 
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