Tuesday, April 17, 2007

[Cell] MOBILE masts dangers

Report links phone masts to cancer


Campaigners fighting phone mast applications today called for all new proposals to be put on hold after a scientific study found they caused cancer.

Telecoms company T-Mobile employed German scientist Dr Peter Neitzke to research potential health risks caused by the equipment but then ignored his findings, preferring to use reports from different experts who said masts pose no significant threat.

Dr Neitzke said once T-Mobile realised the likely outcome of his study it commissioned further research from other scientists which would contradict his work.

T-Mobile, which has about 17 million UK customers, was today condemned by campaigners and its actions were branded an attempt by the industry to keep discussion of potential health risks off the agenda.

Andy Street, who has been campaigning against applications for mobile phone masts near schools and homes in Norwich, said: “These findings should have been published immediately rather than being brushed under the carpet.

“We always thought masts were a risk to health and that the companies knew more about the dangers than they were letting on. For a phone company to ignore its own findings is irresponsible. I want the city council to ban phone mast applications until this report has been fully published and is available to planners.”

His comments were backed by Norwich North MP Ian Gibson, who said: “The council putting a stop on allowing any more mast applications sounds like a very sensible, precautionary measure.

“I think it's better to err on the side of caution.”

The Evening News is fighting the installation of mobile phone masts near homes and schools until they are proven safe through our Put Masts on Hold campaign.

In January 2005, Sir William Stewart, chairman of the National Radiological Protection Board, published a report calling for a precautionary approach to masts near homes and schools. An Evening News investigation that month revealed one in five primary schools in Norwich was within the threshold experts claim could put children at risk.

We also told how a cluster of cancer victims had been living in the shadow of a mobile phone mast in St William's Way, Thorpe St Andrew. At least six people there developed tumours.

Campaigner and city councillor Bert Bremner, who is fighting the eighth application for a mast in the University ward area in four years, said: “It's like tobacco companies hiding the dangers of tobacco. Everything comes out eventually.”

Graham Barker, from Lloyd Road, Taverham, has campaigned against masts for several years. He said: “The whole point of the Evening News campaign was to put masts on hold until we knew the dangers. Now there is credible evidence there are risks.”

Norwich City Council has called on the government to issue new guidelines to planning officers. Council leader Steve Morphew said: “At present planners are not allowed to take account of health concerns, so until the law changes there's not much else we can do.”

David Bradford, chairman of the council's planning committee, added: “We would be interested in seeing this report, which should be made widely available.”

The report was carried out by the Ecolog Institute, which has been researching mobile phone technology since 1992 and was paid by T-Mobile.

Dr Neitzke was working on the study, which was drawn up in 2000 and updated three years later. It was unknown in the UK until it was passed on by European campaigners to the Human Ecological Social Economic Project (HESE) last week. The report stated: “Electromagnetic fields with frequencies in the mobile telecommunications range play a role in the development of cancer. This is particularly notable for tumours of the central nervous system.”

A Department of Health spokesman said: “There is no hard evidence that the health of the public is being affected by the use of mobile phone technologies. Our advice remains the same. We continue to advise a precautionary approach to mobile phone use by under-16s.”

A T-Mobile spokesman said: “It was the aim of T-Mobile to engage four different institutes with the same questions to guarantee an independent and objective discussion.”

Mike Dolan, executive director of the Mobile Operators' Association, said: “The review confirmed that while some scientists had differing views, overall, 'the scientific studies examined in the risk dialogue do not support suspicions that mobile telephony has harmful effects on health'.”

Mobile phone threat to bees:

Mobile phones have wiped out millions of bees, scientists have warned. The phone signals are thought to upset their navigation and they die of exposure after losing their sense of direction.

Up to 90pc of bees have been killed in some areas. But, bizarrely, few dead bodies have been left behind. Instead, the insects vanish.

The phenomenon - Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) - has spread to Europe after appearing in the US last year, where the commercial bee population has declined by about two-thirds. A study by a German researcher found bees refuse to return to their hives if nearby mobiles are left on.

In Britain, CCD has been noticed only in London and the South East. Bee-keeper John Chapple reports that 23 of his 40 hives in the London area have been deserted. With bees thought to contribute £1bn to the UK economy - mainly by pollinating plants - the Government's Bee Unit is investigating.


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