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January 26, 2007

Lakehead Head Surfaces at Wireless Conference

The president of Lakehead University spreads poor information disguised as prudence: In Toronto, at the Wireless Cities Summit, Lakehead president Fred Gilbert repeated the bad science that led him to block wireless networks from being used at his university. On the panel with him was Magda Havas, who is an associate professor at Trent University, and another person who plays fast and loose with microwave studies. Gilbert is quoted as saying, "there are potential health impacts we felt we should be employing a precautionary principle with respect to this technology on our campus." Which is fine if there were a shred of evidence to back that view.

To see how specious Havas's reasoning is, here's her explanation of an earlier problem with microwaves: "When radar was first invented in World War ll we found many radar workers came down with radar sickness, which is what we would now classify as electrosensitivity." Which is totally incorrect. Electrosensitivity, which one study recently showed was non-existent in their testing, has been primarily used to refer to a reaction that some individuals have to electromagnetic fields that contain energy far below the threshold of affecting human tissues or nerves.

Radar sickness--I can't find citations for this precise term related to WWII--could have been the result of exposure to massive amounts of microwave radiation, which is a known problem. In fact, I advise that no one stand near active Wi-Fi or wireless transmitters that use high-gain antennas. These are typically mounted on towers and rooftops, and there's a body of research that shows that at certain thresholds, you can get cellular disruption and long-term health problems. But those levels are well characterized and several orders of magnitude above Wi-Fi and cell phone output. The only study I could find looked at Korean War radar technicians, who had below-average mortality compared to control subjects. (Another reference to radar sickness I find refers to illnesses caused by handling or being near radioactive elements used in Cold War radar installations.)

Havas later compares Wi-Fi use to the use of X-rays to determine a child's shoe fitting as an analogy--the radiation type is vastly different in effect--but it shows her intent to conflate.

Gilbert demonstrated more specious, non-empirical logic when asked by an audience member why, if the studies are all about cell phones, shouldn't the focus be on cell phones? Gilbert responded that "the critical thing is not that there's 100 times difference between the two. The critical thing is the biological effects." Which would mean he believes that there's a magical, perhaps homeopathic property in electromagnetic radiation that affects people regardless of whether the energy passing through someone is below the level necessary to shunt electrons out of their paths.

Havas backs up Gilbert by noting, "There has been very little research on the effects of Wi-Fi because it hasn't been around long enough, so we have to look at technology that is similar to give us the answers as to how concerned we should be about the effects of this technology." Right. And we can extrapolate based on two facts: First, that there are no credible cell phone studies that show long-term or short-term health effects; and second, that Wi-Fi operates at levels far below cell phones, and at greater distances, further reducing any potential effect.

Now before you say--wait, what about that new glioma study that was covered today? Let me stop you. That study, which involved subjects with particular cancers matched against control subjects, and relying on retrospective data (relying on recollection, to boot) can't hold a candle to the other recent study that looked at actual cell phone bills for calling behavior, and had 425,000 subjects with 56,000 using a cell phone for 10 years or more.

As noted in other studies, relying on recollections for sidedness in cell phone use is invariably biased by the subject, suffering from cancer as they are, being more likely to associate the side with the tumor with the side they formerly favored.


cell phones produce energy that is right next to the brain...peak power of 300-400mW... wireless LAN is 100-200mW and typically >20 cm. from the user...

Guess they need to break out the tin foil hats to keep their thoughts from being read too?...

Fear of technolgy factor....

you may want to take a look at CNET's cell phone radiation chart

As a licensed radio amateur living near a mast (without having to pander to career and funding imperatives) I wish I could uphold the notion that ICNIRP compliant emissions are without adverse impact on health. Over a period exceeding 17 years I have become familiar with the commonly quoted symptoms that seem to present amongst residents exposed to measurable ICNIRP compliant RF emissions near base stations. What I found both worrying and intriguing, as this finding was not expected, is the way these symptoms seem to respond to effective shielding. Shielding trials over a 5-year period with participating residents demonstrated a stepped lessening of the symptoms and overall sustainable improvement to health and well being as the shielding was made more efficient. On many occasions during this period some residents removed the shielding and the symptoms over time seem to return. The placebo effect often cited as a possible explanation to the mitigating effects of shielding might not offer a convincing explanation. Some residents using shielding over prolonged periods found it to be more effective and seemed to relieve them from their dependence on drugs like paracetamol and prescription sleeping tablets. At least 16 case studies over the last five years show that the symptoms seem to be consistently mitigated possibly due to effective shielding. Double blind trials currently under way to understand electro sensitivity might not yield meaningful results in view of my observations, as the onset and recovery from, these symptoms can take up a time period of at least 6 months. "Microwave syndrome" unlike radiation sickness first appeared as early as 1932 (Schliephake) and might not be a recently discovered and debated phenomenon. It is possible therefore that the Wifi rollout might further excarcebate symptoms possibly attributed to ambient RF stress. I would urge those that may have doubts to make the effort and take a very close look at the science. Citing the recent Danish Study as evidence of no effects can only serve to reinforce the notion that Mr Fleishman might benefit from a closer look at the science and possibly prepare himself for a radical paradigm shift within the near future.

panayis zambellis luton uk

[Editor's note: "At least 16 case studies..." These don't sound like peer-reviewed studies, and you don't provide citations for them, so it's hard to evaluate this as more than more anecdotal evidence. The Danish study is massive and provides clear evidence over long periods of time using actual call patterns. This would conform to your notion that years of exposure to low-intensity electromagnetic radiation should result in measurable differences in health.-gf]

electromagnetic fields....phones...pylons etc etc?
i live very near pylons and live in the uk...because of recent health implications of and neighbours and animals since we moved into the area i contacted my local grid *who own the pylons/repair and erect*who came out to see me personally to talk about risks/non risks..
after all the normal flannel they gave me...i wanted to know 1 question..which i asked.."can you give me a guarantee that living so near to so many electricity pylons is not hazardous to health or implicated in any way to the health problems *community*are suffering from" he replied that he could not and promptly left.this was a man who had worked there for 29 years..and was one of the main men
i shall say no more.

[Editor's note: Again, this anecdotal, non-verifiable scaremongering. And it's secondhand.--gf]

I would just like to add that I have been suffering from "electricity sickness" for about 4 years now. This means I am very sensitive to mobile phones (dont use them), computer and TV screens, GPS, WiFi etc. I stayed in a hotel about 2 years ago with wifi and had to get out of the room in the middle of the night because of it. I am a perfectly "healthy" human being this aside, father of 2 children etc, and this disease is definetly not imaginery!

[Editor's note: You sound extremely rational. However, the quantity of electromagnetic radiation used by the devices you describe would mean you would be in constant pain. GPS receivers don't generate any signals. They receive signals sent by satellites. Which would mean that GPS sensitivity would cause you a constant sensation at all times when you were outside with a clear view of the sky. Wi-Fi is used in so many places that you should be unable to leave your house and sit at a cafe, even if the cafe lacks Wi-Fi. I have suspected and written elsewhere that multi-spectrum illness--an illness with many possibly unrelated causes--that is unrelated to electromagnetic radiation is the real culprit. Lloyd, have you ever worked with a couple of friends to perform a blind test of your sensitivity? It's extremely easy to carry out in a rough form.--gf]

My body can pick up both Wi-fi and cell phone mast signals amongst others and I have proved this in double blind tests. Modern living has become very uncomfortable over the last few years and I for one am fed up of feeling that I have to always "prove" my sensitivity to skeptics who can not possibly know what it's like to live with this burden.

Some people will always be in denial that something invisible can affect them. People do have a right to choose what technology they use. However if their radiation is hitting others in all urban and most rural areas in our environment, and us sensitives have no choice but to suffer it, then the precautionary principle should be adhered to with each new form of transmitter to protect the vulnerable.

[Editor's note: I'm not in denial. Rather, I'm just asking for verifiable proof. I'm impressed you've tried double-blind tests. Do you have results you can post and can we talk to the people who performed them to understand the methodology? Would you submit to an independent set of testing to repeat the tests?--gf]

replying to your is not scaremongering but a fact not said by me but the man daughter and boyfriend were there...but anything could be *secondhand* in your eyes if you are bias*i have looked at all possibilities as to why we are all so ill in our community before asking these questions and came up with nothing apart from the no guarantee from the guy..i am not bias...they are not going to publically say that they have no guarantee that theres no health implications...because they just dont!!because they dont know themselves!scaremongering?....rot!...fact..yes...

adding on from my last post is see you have put that *Editor's note: You sound extremely rational. However, the quantity of electromagnetic radiation used by the devices you describe would mean you would be in constant pain.*
myself and my partner and 2 of my neighbours *out of only 5 houses*have been diagnosed with m.e and fibromyalgia....cancer..other illnesses *very uncommonly high numbers in such a small area*which we didnt have until we moved here...we are in constant pain and have horrendous fatigue amongst other things..while i try to stay open minded as to what is causing these illnesses..i am at a dead end as the national grid guy who came to visit me did not give me a it is all i have to go on....

[Editor's note: Seems like there are two separate issues here. Most people concerned with EMR either claim that electrosensitives are harmed by it (a small percentage of the population) or that it causes problem over long periods of time due to high exposure. My concern in your situation, as you describe it, is that by isolating genetic factors and time factors--both related and unrelated people in a certain place having the same symptoms--it seems that tens of millions of people would be in the same boat as you and thus suffering the same extreme symptoms.

I have great fears that you are suffering from another set of causes, regardless of what an electric line worker told you, and that you may be in grave danger to your health for reasons unrelated to EMR.

If everyone living as close as you are to the causes you ascribe to illness suffered as quickly as you did, the causes would be obvious. But they aren't. I would urge you to seek out more help--and keep an open mind that EMR isn't the cause. It could be toxic materials used in the home you live in or other poisons in your nearby environment.--gf]

Dear Editor
As a licensed radio amateur without career and funding imperatives I am relating my observations on the ground about the fortuitous discovery of the link between health effects and shielding.
You may dismiss these observations as anecdotal and therefore of little value at the same time you might consider the notion that at least 16 people have got their life back from a nightmare that one would not wish on one's worst enemy. These residents (real people) have also had to come to terms with the fact that the regulators citing the peer review process you reverently refer to might suggest that their recovery is not real.

Reflecting on their impaired state of health prior to shielding however rapidly raises the prickly question that something is not quite right.

Should you be aware of Brodeurs book written in the late 70?s you might find a detailed and convoluted account of the unorthodox ways that studies were funded conducted and on occasions results changed to muster peer review. As an amateur after discovering the link between shielding and health and having to read the harrowing account of the American Embassy personnel being subjected to 23 years of Schwann compliant irradiation as a knowledge demonstrator by the Soviets to the Americans it rapidly became apparent to me that I was not observing anything "new" but something that has been known and vigorously marginalized for many years.

The Stewart report cites the Goldsmith account of the Lileinfield work but would not include it in the summary of evidence, as it could not get a copy.

The Danish study was mentioned in passing hoping you would research it further rather than bring it up again in debate. As I recollect out of the 600,000 subjects looked at, over 200,000 corporate subscribers were mysteriously excluded.

In my simplistic and possibly flawed way of looking at things, the analogy might be studying lung cancer and excluding people that smoke.
The results suggest a skewing that mobile phone users might also be experiencing a therapeutic effect from the RF.
Furthermore this study was originally offered to WTR way back in the 90's because according to the director conducting the WTR programme it was suggested by the authors that it might offer a favourable outcome.

Perhaps it might be useful to the readers that reference is made to the colourful background linked to this piece of research.

I see very little value in publishing my limited and local experience with RF exposure as I feel I would be going over old ground, and would rather focus my limited resources in assisting unsuspecting possible victims cope with the rapidly proliferation of unwanted RF emissions.

Panayis Zambellis Luton UK

Panayis, I think the issue around all this is whether people are suffering from EM radiation, or from other causes -- I don't doubt people are suffering.

You ask, "The Danish study was mentioned in passing hoping you would research it further rather than bring it up again in debate. As I recollect out of the 600,000 subjects looked at, over 200,000 corporate subscribers were mysteriously excluded."

Not so. I expect you were reading PowerWatch, which writes, "They then excluded a further 200,507 subscriptions under the basis that they were "corporate" subscriptions and the actual person using the phone could not be identified. So out of the original recordset, over 30% (which by their own admission may be the "most active users") were excluded."

The problem here is that the Danish study couldn't use aggregated usage records. It doesn't state that all corporate or heavy users were excluded, but rather those for which individual use couldn't be correlated against health.

I would still argue that substantial specific long-term review of 400,000+ people should have revealed the kinds of results that people who claim the widespread, long-term problems with cell phones. In fact, most of the folks that claim that cell phones can increase the risk of disease and cancer don't require that people use them over 10 years excessively.

Now beyond this, the issue on this site is Wi-Fi. Wi-Fi typically operates at a much lower intensity than cell phones and at greater distances. Even the Wi-Fi in a laptop has an antenna point away from the user, and every additional centimeter distant from the antenna that a user's body parts is located represents a significant drop in field strength.

Gilbert is a nutbar. It is for this reason, when its nice outside and I want to work on my papers, I take my laptop to a park bench outside his office and turn on my laptops wireless. Then, I turn on my cell phone, before finally going to work on my paper.
I hope he enjoys my gift to him. That is of course, unless he's wearing his tinfoil hat to protect him.

Lakehead Student Sean