Saturday, June 28, 2008

Electrosmog, Cell Phones, and Cancer.... Oh My!

By Emily Stephens

“The Earth is being engulfed in electrosmog!”
Arthur Firstenberg is one of the growing number of electromagnetic hypersensitive (EHS) people who suffer physical and psychological symptoms reportedly caused by electromagnetic fields. Imagine terrible headaches, nausea, or heart arrhythmia whenever being near Wi-Fi, a computer, a cell phone, or electric lights. Firstenberg, along with a handful of others are fighting to stop a plan to install Wi-Fi in all Santa Fe public libraries and government buildings. His argument seems to be falling on deaf ears.

Santa Fe’s city attorney determined EHS is not covered by the federal Americans with Disabilities Act. Furthermore, there is no legal precedent where Wi-Fi has ever been identified as the cause of EHS. So far, the Santa Fe City Council remains undecided.

Proponents of Wi-Fi insist there is no proven, causal link between the medical symptoms and wireless technology. The World Health Organization agrees with them: although the symptoms of EHS "are certainly real" and disabling for those affected, "there is no scientific basis to link EHS symptoms to EMF (electromagnetic field) exposure." So, is the etiology of EHS simply psychosomatic?

In 1988, 60 Swedish employees of an Ericsson subsidary company developed EHS after a mobile phone base station was installed on their office building’s roof. At first, the company tried to keep quiet about the whole ordeal. After receiving a $1 million grant from the Swedish Working Life Fund, they decided to go public and change the working environment. Unfortunately, most of those who were affected are still hypersensitive.

Interesting to note, Sweden is the only country in the world that accepts electrosensitivity as a physical impairment. Over 2.4% of their population is registered as having some form of EHS. Apply that ratio to the US population, and one could extrapolate that as many as 6.5 million Americans experience wireless symptoms.

Nikola Tesla is the first person suspected of having EHS. Recognized as one of the greatest technological scientists of all time, Tesla developed a severe illness late in life that many believe was caused by repeated exposure to high levels of electromagnetic fields.

"To doctors [Tesla] appeared at death's door. One of the symptoms of the illness was an acute sensitivity of all the sense-organs. His senses had always been extremely keen, but this sensitivity was now so tremendously exaggerated that the effects were a form of torture. The ticking of a watch three rooms away sounded like the beat of hammers on an anvil. The vibration of ordinary city traffic, when transmitted through a chair or bench, pounded through his body."
-The Life of Nikola Tesla by John J. O'Neill

Whether or not you believe in EHS, wireless technology has actually been proven dangerous. This last February, Dr. Seigal Sadetzki found a link between chronic cell phone usage and the development of benign and malignant tumors within the salivary gland. Those who used cell phones heavily on one side of the head were found to have an increased risk of 50% for developing main salivary gland (parotid) tumors, as compared to non-users.
Sadetzki's study, which investigated nearly 500 people diagnosed with salivary gland tumors, also found those who live in rural areas have an increased risk for cancer. Rural areas typically have fewer cell phone towers and antennas, so cell phones must emit more radiation in order to work.

“While I think this technology is here to stay,” Sadetzki says, “I believe precautions should be taken in order to diminish the exposure and lower the risk for health hazards.” Her recommendations?

1. Use hands-free devices at all times.
2. When talking, hold the phone away from one’s body.
3. Call less frequently.
4. Shorten the length of your calls.

The moral of the story? Beware of electrosmog, cell phones, and cancer. Hmmm. I guess now we know. And knowing is half the battle, right?

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