by Arthur Firstenberg . The Ecologist v.34, n.5, 1jun04
…on November 14 1996, Omnipoint, New York City’s first digital cellular provider, did open for business, broadcasting from thousands of antennae newly erected on the rooftops of apartment buildings. According to the health authorities, an early flu hit New York City – but not Boston, and not Philadelphia – on about 15 November. The flu was severe and ran a prolonged course, often dragging on for months instead of the usual two weeks.
At Christmas time, the Cellular Phone Task Force placed a small classified ad in a free weekly newspaper. It read: ‘If you have been ill since 11/15/96 with any of the following: eye pain, insomnia, dry lips, swollen throat, pressure or pain in the chest, headaches, dizziness, nausea, shakiness, other aches and pains, or flu that won’t go away, you may be a victim of a new microwave system blanketing the city. We need to hear from you.’ And we did hear from them. Hundreds called, men, women, whites, blacks, Asians, Latinos, doctors, lawyers, teachers, stockbrokers, airline stewards, computer operators. Most had woken up suddenly in mid-November, thinking they were having a stroke or a heart attack or a nervous breakdown, and were relieved to know they were not alone and not crazy.
Later, I analysed weekly mortality statistics, which the Centres for Disease Control publish for122 US cities. Each of dozens of cities recorded a 10-25 per cent increase in mortality, lasting two to three months, beginning on the day in 1996 or 1997 on which that city’s first digital cell phone network began commercial service. I published both the raw data and the complete analysis, with graphs. This appeared in No Place To Hide, an investigative journal published by my organisation and I am presently working with scientists in Europe to expand this study to other countries.
I learned that in February 1996, Congress had passed a law prohibiting local governments from denying permits for cell phone antennae because of environmental concerns – so long as they comply with Federal Communications Commission (FCC) rules. I also learned that the FCC had just issued regulations setting public exposure limits for microwave radiation at levels at least ten thousand times higher than levels which, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, were causing reports of illness from all over the world. Levels that are at least ten thousand times higher than the levels that had forced me to leave behind my home, my family, and my friends, and to run for my life, never to be able to return home again.
The Cellular Phone Task Force, along with over 50 other grass roots organisations and individuals around the US, became involved in a legal challenge of the FCC’s absurd standards and its pre-emption of local control. This was taken all the way to the US Supreme Court. Dozens of cities, towns and public officials, including several US senators and representatives, submitted briefs urging the High Court to hear our case. But in January 2001, the Supreme Court, without comment, declined.
You will hear statements by supposed experts – always the same few, in the pay of the telecommunications industry – to the effect that cell phones/cell towers/microwave radiation have been proven safe in countless studies. It is an easy lie, one that the news media have been eager to propagate. Such studies don’t exist. Quite the contrary: it has been shown that, just as for X-rays, there is no safe level of exposure to microwave radiation, and it is so easy to demonstrate harmful effects that it takes some skill to design experiments that don’t show them. It is harder to show effects today than 10 years ago because now the entire planet is exposed, making it impossible to do experiments with ‘unexposed’ controls. But most experiments still show effects anyway – effects on heart rhythms, on brain waves, on the blood-brain barrier, on sleep, on the eyes, on the gonads, on the skin, on hearing, on calcium, on melatonin, on glucose, on metabolism, on human well-being. If you look, you will find. Zorach Glaser reviewed over 5,000 such studies for the United States Navy during the 1970s alone. After 1982, the United States ceased funding Glaser’s cataloguing work. But the flood of alarming research occurring all over the world continued.
From the volume of literature I have seen, certain results stand out in my mind.
In the 1960s, Allan Frey was the first to discover that people and animals can hear low-energy pulsed microwaves. He also did some of the earliest work showing how heart rhythms are disturbed by microwaves, and how the blood-brain barrier is compromised, letting large molecules leak across, exposing the brain to potential damage. Ophthalmologist Milton Zaret was the first to describe cataracts caused by low-energy microwaves. Canadians Tanner, Romero-Sierra and Bigu Del Blanco worked with parakeets, chickens, pigeons and seagulls. Birds avoided microwave fields if they could, and collapsed within seconds if they couldn’t. Defeathered birds showed no such distress, and these researchers then showed that feathers act as antennae conveying microwave energy to the birds. Thirty years later, Alfonso Balmori Martínez has carefully documented the decline and disappearance of white storks, house sparrows, and free-tailed bats from the vicinity of cellular phone base stations.
In Germany, Wolfgang Volkrodt linked forest die-back to microwave radiation rather than acid rain. Wolfgang Löscher and Günther Käs documented illness in dairy cows caused by cell towers. This included decreased milk production, infertility, abortions, birth deformities, behavioural problems and early death. Autopsies revealed that the cows died of acute circulatory collapse and bleeding from several organs.
In France, Roger Santini has found that the closer people live to a cell tower, the more likely they are to experience dizziness, nausea, memory loss and other neurological symptoms. Claudio Gómez-Perretta has obtained similar results in Spain. The Dutch government sponsored double blind experiments in a laboratory. People exposed to a cell tower signal experienced dizziness, nervousness, chest pain, shortness of breath, numbness and tingling, weakness, and difficulty concentrating…
See also an excerpt from Firstenberg’s “Microwaving the Planet” at www.mindfully.org/Technology/Microwaving-Planet-Firstenberg1997.htm