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Home » Featured, Gadgets, Mobile, News

Canadian Citizen Groups Launch Wi-Fi, Cell Phone Safety Initiatives

Submitted by on April 11, 2011 – 9:07 am7 Comments

By Lee Rickwood

It’s called “the greatest medical threat of our time”.

So concerned citizens, worried about our increasing exposure to wireless, cellular and microwave technologies, have unveiled a series of initiatives in Canada, designed to increase public awareness and put pressure on politicians to act.

Disconnect book cover on cell phones

Dr. Devra Davis' book, Disconnect, warns about cell phone health issues

Smartphones, baby monitors, cell towers and Wi-Fi routers, smart meters, cordless phones and a whack of popular tech gadgets were cited as serious health threats.

It was strong stuff – and not just from individual activists and community groups, but internationally noted physicians, scientists and researchers, gathered for a series of workshops, interviews and panel presentations held at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre over the weekend.

Both Canadian and international initiatives were unveiled during the event, including a tech savvy ranking of Canadian political parties and the party positions they hold.

* * *

I don’t know what all you’ve heard about the health or medical dangers of wireless.

We’ve written about it a little bit here at whatsyourtech, and surely it is not a new topic in many media and academic circles. You can certainly find ‘reputable’ studies that have seemingly contradictory conclusions to offer: that cell phones are fine, that cell phones are deadly.

Now, I don’t carry a cell phone anyway, for a number of reasons not all medical, but I have now pulled the plug on my home router. That’s simple – it’s a small place anyway, and I can easily string a cable to my laptop at any comfortable seating area. But the stuff they showed at least made me want to try and manage if not reduce how much time, and how close I get, with wireless devices large and small.

So the gamma ray gun I’ve been working on has got to go!

Sorry, not to make fun or insult anyone here, but a laugh moment is called for.

ComiCon attendee

ComiCon brought out other scary realities

The setting was so bizarre – the Convention Centre hosted not only the Wi-Fi sessions, part of a larger ‘Total Health’ show, but there was also a ‘ComiCon’ show, so teens in bizarre and bloody costumes were everywhere, and there was a ‘Raising Jesus’ gathering, complete with older men in white robes toting incense and carrying crosses! Really weird scene!

* * *

The thought of no cell phone, no Wi-Fi is weird, too. Unimaginable for many, even unconscionable, I know. So do the folks at the conference.

Wireless technology is ubiquitous, and in some cases, quite valuable. A cell phone in an earthquake can be a lifesaver.

But the degree to which we are exposed to wireless tech today, in common everyday and rather undemanding situations, has some people very concerned.

Among them, Dr. Devra Davis, author of Disconnect. Her book has harsh warnings about microwave radiation from cell phones – it comes with the ominous if somewhat unwieldy sub-title: The Truth about Cell Phone Radiation, What the Industry has Done to Hide It, and How to Protect Your Family.

An epidemiologist by training, she’s also a co-recipient with Al Gore of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize (for her scientific contributions to the Climate Change Panel, which he so often cited).

“I had three of them; they’re really cool things,” she said, agreeing that almost everyone has a cell phone, but quickly adding “Cell phones can do things for us, they can do things to us.”

Saying the risks associated with cell phones and wireless technologies have been grossly underestimated, her own take on the research (her own data and those of others) is that, best case scenario, we are in the middle of a giant and risky public health experiment.

So she always recommends keeping a distance – her iPhone is always at arms length, in a purse or on the desk, and she talks through a cool red retro phone handset, plugged in to the headset jack. She does not hold a cell phone against her head.

bluetooth retro handset

Handsets are one way to keep cell phones at a distance

I asked her how much for the handset – all she would say was, “Too much!” There are Bluetooth enabled and hard wired handsets, such as those from ThinkGeek and Roots.

But use a speaker phone wherever possible, and carry your cell in a backpack or purse (not in your, ahem, pants, not on your belt, not in your bra!) are some of the steps she suggests the rest of us use.

Keep them turned off whenever possible, and keep them out of the hands and away from the heads of youngsters as much as possible. Ban the so-called ‘baby apps’. And get rid of cordless phones around the home altogether.

She’s trying to be positive and practical. Information and awareness is key. So while in Toronto, she announced the launch of the Global Campaign for Safer Cell Phones.

It’s a 12 country initiative she said, with North American, European and South Asian names in the mix. There’s material on YouTube to promote the campaign, sponsored by her non-profit organization, the Enviromental Health Trust.

But if calling cell phones “a public health experiment” is the best case scenario, what’s the worst?

Well, it was Dr. Stephen Sinatra who used that “greatest medical threat” phrase.

He’s seen the threat professionally, and personally. A cardiologist, nutritionist and assistant clinical professor of medicine, he’s confident in saying “Wi-Fi is a cardiac risk factor; Wi-Fi and RF both affect the heart….I can connect the dots.”

He cites case studies – among them, the near death crisis of his own son – in his documentation of the risks from various electro-magnetic and microwave sources.

His son was a Wall St trader. Under pressure, surely, but also surrounded by banks of computers, wireless devices, often a phone on each shoulder. So bombarded by what Sinatra calls “electro-pollution” that it nearly shut his son’s body down.

Treatment, of course, included getting his son out of there, and limiting further exposure. His website has more description of the case, and information about other wireless technology related health issues.

The warnings and the case studies all make perfect sense to Dr. Magda Havas, another participant in the sessions and a long-time researcher into environmental and biological issues, from acid rain to sick building syndrome, and now, electromagnetic pollution.

So she has been here before, in the midst of what she calls a David and Goliath struggle, trying to bring contrarian viewpoints into the mainstream, often against much resistance. This time, Havas said, it’s a bigger Goliath than asbestos or tobacco.

An associate professor at Trent University, she’s been to Ottawa to testify at Parliamentary hearings into the human effects of microwave radiation, following her published studies into risks associated with the 2.4 GHz radio spectrum so favoured by cordless home phones and the like.

So the health and safety concerns connected with wireless technology are a technical, medical and certainly political issue.

Vaughn Leads Panel

Adam Vaughn moderates a panel discussion on Wi-Fi health and safety.

That’s one reason why one of the Wi-Fi sessions was moderated by Toronto City Councillor Adam Vaughn (whose riding the Convention Centre occupies).

A busy politician and father of a teenaged daughter himself, he’s seen first hand the way wireless tech has integrated itself into the lives of young people and professionals alike.

He knows for many people it is just an emerging issue, and he recognized that for many people, trying to understand the implications and remedies is a challenge. So he calls for more civil discourse on the matter, with more engagement from citizens and politicians alike, saying informed discussions are a civil necessity.

Vaughn may get good ratings for his position, but the national parties do not fare so well, according to a citizen’s group called the Wireless Radiation Safety Council.

The Harper Conservatives took home an F for failing to protect children’s health in matters related to wireless tech. The Liberals “are not much better” getting a C, with only Toronto MP Maria Minna cited for a stop the cell phone petition she was involved with in her riding.

“During the Conservative’s tenure Canada’s Parliamentary Standing Committee on Health tried to address the increasing problem of human exposure to microwave radiation from cell phones, cell towers and Wi-Fi in schools,” announced Francois Therrien, a member of the Council. “The Conservatives held a majority on that committee but they failed to act decisively to protect Canadians from this emerging public health disaster,” he said.

The Bloc and the Greens received a B grade, with only the NDP getting an A for effort, if not execution, in its raising of health and safety concerns related to cell phones and wireless gadgets.

The grading is timely, with the election underway and with new tech developments coming almost every day. Groups from across the country are getting active on the issue, and they want to have a big impact going forward.

In addition to the individual’s website linked above, groups like Kawartha Safe Technology, Safe Schools and Citizens for Safe Technology have information on their sites, as well.

Both pro and con sides of the argument are out there, of course.

* * *

So, what’s your tech?

Are you worried about cellphones and wireless radiation?

Do you think the people who are worred are nuts?  Or ahead of the curve?

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7 Comments »

  • Daryl Vernon says:

    “Ahead of the curve”?? The curve — as in a section of road obscured from majority public view –is only there due to a century of refined techniques of hoodwinking the public, co-opting and emasculating regulators, intimidation or buying of researchers, and so forth, all exploited to the hilt in this surpassing environmental and health threat. Frankly, a fair assessment of the history surrounding human misuse of just this part of the electromagnetic spectrum, leads to judgement about the morality of continued use of such devices, not merely about how to minimize self-exposures. Foremost should be something omitted entirely from the article, and thus likely from most talk at the convention, certainly from Davis’ presentations in misplaced “trying to be positive”; foremost should be great ongoing harm caused by the supporting infrastructure, at the continual mass irradiating ready to transmit your “safe” headset calls. Cell towers kill. It’s one thing to be fooled into the positive act of pressing radiative devices to heads; it’s quite another to acquiesce in mass involuntary public exposures, not to mention the effects on wildlife & vegetation. Studies abound, far more than has served to condemn any other enviro. or health threat. Why is this one different? That “curve” that has been created & expertly maintained, and a far too acquiescent public. For some intro, read e.g. a Motorola insider’s account, http://www.scribd.com/doc/21783803/Cellular-Telephone-Russian-Roulette ; for the latest in condemnation of cell base station antennae, see e.g.
    http://www.scribd.com/doc/38565331/Specific-Health-Symptoms-and-Cell-Phone-Radiation-in-Selbitz-Bavaria-Germany-—-Evidence-of-a-Dose-Response-Relationship .

  • Tammy says:

    Thank you Lee for this written synopsis of information from the recent convention where medical and research experts presented on the dangers of wireless ‘microwave’ radiation.

    A growing number of Canadians are very concerned with the proliferation of wireless technology that has invaded every aspect of our daily lives causing many to fall ill in its presence whether knowingly able to connect the dots or not, with countless others to succumb later to serious disease such as cancer in decades to come. This serious health threat must be addressed or else we will all pay the pied piper – there is no doubt.

    Many EMF experts have been sounding the alarm bells for years to the coming disaster our ubiquitous world of wireless will bring only to be called ‘fringe scientists’ who are ‘fear mongering’. Those of of us who have done our homework on the subject refer to these brave ones as ‘pioneers’ in their field, willing to step out from the masses and risk their jobs to stand up for what is right despite all the pressure to go along with the status quo as so many other industry paid scientists have done. Our only hope is many more scientists will join them as the evidence pushes them to take action in support of truthful science free of bias.

    Brain tumours are now the leading killer of children; this should be a red flag that something has gone terribly wrong in our environment! For those who continue to deny there is a problem, take a visit to the paediatric hospitals where the rooms are filled to capacity with many cancer stricken children and then state there is nothing to be concerned about. Let’s do something now to prevent further suffering and needless tragedy for so many families.

    Can we continue to blindly go along with no question asked and gamble our health and the vigor of our younger generations for the convenient connectivity of our wireless gadgets? I really believe most would say NO if they truly understood what was at stake- everything that means anything. Our only hope is to wake up from our smart phone and wi-fried induced ‘brain fog’ before it’s too late.

    Some informative reading for those waking up and interested to learn more on the issues.

    Benevento Italy Resolution 2006 http://www.icems.eu/benevento_resolution.htm

    London Resolution 2007: http://www.icems.eu/docs/resolutions/London_res.pdf

    Venice Italy Resolution 2008 http://www.icems.eu/resolution.htm

    Porto Alegre Resolution 2009:
    http://www.icems.eu/docs/resolutions/Porto_Alegre_Resolution.pdf

    Freiberger Appeal signed by 30,000 doctors
    http://www.starweave.com/freiburger/

  • Amit says:

    We have all heard about mobile phone radiation, and are aware of the constant debate of potential harmful long term results. Here is a smart, practical way to minimize your exposure to cellular radiation. tawkon is a mobile phone application that gives users information and tools to avoid mobile phone radiation, with minimal disruption to normal phone usage. tawkon monitors changing radiation levels based on information extracted from the individual’s phone and the environment.

    Additional information about tawkon, its technology, features, and more can be found at http://www.tawkon.com.

    Amit, Co-founder, CTO
    tawkon

  • jaydayrock says:

    Wow! I’m just waking up, and would like to do something to stop the proliferation of
    cell phone and radio towers; as well as smart meters, which apparently are coming to all of Ontario, without their having even informed us of the dangers.

    There have been ample studies on the negative health effects of microwaves and electromagnetic radiation, but these studies have been suppressed.

    Today when I talked to the man in charge of changing the poles in my neighborhood to accomodate the smart meters, he told me there is no danger. When I told him about the Sage study in January 2011 in California, as well as Dr. Neil Cherry’s study, he seemed unaware of these studies.

    Does anyone want to work with me on this?

    Thanks,

    Jaydayrock

  • thoughtful says:

    Sure, if you believe in dowsing, karma, and energy therapy nonsense, there were “experts” there.

    I suppose a convention on ghosts and astrology would also equivalently comprise a set of “experts”.

    It is easy to make money out of fear, and snake oil salesmen have been around since the beginning of time. Seriously, folks, you really have nothing to fear except fear itself.

  • [...] Canadian Citizen Groups Launch Wi-Fi, Cell Phone Safety … Apr 11, 2011 … But if calling cell phones “a public health experiment” is … researcher into environmental and biological issues, … So the health and safety concerns connected with wireless … [...]

  • RitaA says:

    @thoughtful,

    I’ve heard people snicker when it comes to the dangers of WiFi, claiming the Canadian government knows better than internationally-recognized researchers. I no longer have that amount of faith in any government agency as they tend not to be the most up-to-date when it comes to scientific research of any kind.

    Why would cell phone manufacturers stipulate a certain distance (close to an inch) for people to hold their phones away from their heads? Dr. Sanjay Gupta, a neurosurgeon, and Anderson Cooper discussed this briefly on CNN tonight. If a group of scientists aren’t to be believed, perhaps you’ll take the media’s word for it.

    http://thechart.blogs.cnn.com/2011/05/20/gupta-cell-phones-brain-tumors-and-a-wired-earpiece/

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