Row over ’cover up’ of mobile phone masts cancer finding

1 Row over ’cover up’ of mobile phone masts cancer finding
(Daily Mail on-line)

Campaigners battling mobile phone masts have demanded all new schemes to be stopped after a scientist working for a telecommunications company said they caused cancer. T-Mobile employed German expert Dr Peter Neitzke to research health risks caused by the equipment. But the mobile phone giant - which has 17-million British customers - ignored his findings and used conclusions from other scientists who said masts posed no significant threat.

The Ecolog Institute, which has been researching mobile phone technology since 1992, was paid by T-Mobile to gather evidence on its dangers. But Dr Peter Neitzke, one of the authors of the report, has accused T-Mobile of diluting the findings by commissioning other studies from which it knew “no critical results or recommendations were to be expected”. . Dr Neitzke added that once T-Mobile realised the likely outcome of his study it commissioned further research.

The Ecolog study, drawn up in 2000 and updated three years later, was unknown to British campaigners until it was leaked to the Human Ecological Social Economic Project (HESE), which examines the effect of electromagnetic fields on health.

Ecolog’s report stated: “Given the results of the present epidemiological studies, it can be concluded that electromagnetic fields with frequencies in the mobile telecommunications range do play a role in the development of cancer. This is particularly notable for tumours of the central nervous system.”

The controversial move has been blasted by activists and MPs. They said the company’s handling of the report was typical as the under-fire industry strived to keep discussion of the health threat off the agenda.

2 MP Chairman of UK All Party Cancer Committee urges caution

Andy Street has been fighting applications for mobile phone masts near schools and houses in Thorpe St Andrew, Norwich.

Mr Street said: “The Neitkze findings should have been published straightaway rather than brushed under the carpet. We always have to fight mobile phone mast applications. Even if we win one battle we then have to fight against the companies appealing against it.
“We always thought they were a risk to health and that the companies knew more about the dangers than they were letting on. But for a phone company to ignore its own findings is highly irresponsible."

He stressed: "With these phone companies it always seems to be pounds before people. I would call on the city council to ban phone mast applications until this report has been fully published and is available to planners.” Mr Street was backed by Norwich North MP, Ian Gibson.  Mr Gibson is also the Chairman of the House of Commons All Party Committee on Cancer. He added, “The council putting a stop on allowing any more mast applications sounds like a very sensible, precautionary measure. It’s extremely interesting that research has come through, some saying ’Yes’ it is harmful and some saying’ No’, it’s not.
“It seems to be all about how experiments are designed, and the way people look at the situation. But certainly it’s a long way from being proven that it is safe. I think it’s better to err on the side of caution.”

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

In 2002 it emerged that 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 developed tumours, which they feared might have been associated with the huge antenna.

Campaigner and Norwich city councillor Bert Bremner is gearing up to fight the eighth application for a phone mast in the University ward area in four years. He said: “Anything that shows that mobile phones are a problem is of concern to us. It’s like the tobacco companies hiding the dangers of tobacco. "Everything comes out eventually so I’m surprised that they didn’t just publish the report and be damned.”

Graham Barker has fought masts in Taverham, Norwich, for years. He said: “The whole point of the campaign to put masts on hold was until we knew of the risks. "Now there is some credible evidence there are risks. We should not be putting these masts up while the dangers are still not known. There is no doubt a moratorium should be urgently adhered to.”

Steve Morphew, Norwich City Council leader, said: “What we want is some clear guidance what we are allowed to do.  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.


3 Study shows Phone mast link to lost sparrows

(29 April 2007 The Sunday Times)

SPARROWS may be disappearing from British gardens because of radiation from mobile phone masts, according to a new study.
Electromagnetic energy from the masts may be disrupting the birds’ navigational systems, discouraging them from inhabiting areas with high numbers of the masts.
The researchers believe the pulses may also create an electrical charge in the birds’ feathers, leading to a change in their behaviour.
The new study could help solve the mystery of why the previously plentiful birds have now vanished from many gardens and hedgerows. Britain’s population of sparrows peaked at about 13m pairs in the 1970s, but is now put at less than half that.
The new research was carried out by Joris Everaert and Dirk Bauwens at the Research Institute for Nature and Forest in Belgium. Their study, in 150 locations, showed that the stronger the signal from base stations, the fewer sparrows were found in an area.
The report, published in Electromagnetic Biology and Medicine, supports the notion that “long-term exposure to higher levels of radiation negatively affects the abundance or behaviour of house sparrows”.
The research follows a recent study suggesting the collapse of bee colonies in America could be related to electromagnetic radiation from mobile networks.

4 UK Ministers now to investigate Phone Masts

(13 May 2007 The  Independent)
Ministers are to investigate arrangements for erecting mobile phone masts in the light of growing fears that they may cause cancer and other diseases because of "electronic smog".
They will review the exceptionally favourable rules that allow mobile phone companies to escape normal planning regulations and stop councils from considering the effects of the masts on health, even when they are sited near homes and schools.
Originally promised three years ago, and then shelved, the review follows articles in The Independent on Sunday about possible effects of the radiation on children and bees. The Government will take account of new scientific and medical evidence, and consult experts and campaigners, as part of a wider review of planning guidelines, which ministers send to local authorities.
More than 47,000 "base stations", like masts, have already been erected in Britain to service its 50 million mobile phones, often in defiance of intense local public opposition. Successive governments have made extraordinary concessions to the companies to ensure that coverage was rolled out across the country as quickly as possible.
Masts up to 45ft high do not need planning permission in the normal way. Instead, companies merely have to notify councils of their intentions and can go ahead unless they are formally stopped within 56 days.
Overworked planning authorities struggle to cope with these applications on time, and companies have frequently put up the masts against councils’ opposition because news of a refusal has reached them shortly after the deadline.
Seven years ago, an official inquiry - headed by Sir William Stewart, a former government chief scientist - concluded that "the siting of all new base stations should be subject to the normal planning process".
Ministers said that they were "minded" to implement this recommendation, and then failed to do so, even though full planning permission has long been required in Scotland and Northern Ireland.
The inquiry also urged that masts should not be built near schools unless parents agreed, but ministers refused to agree.
The planning rules also make it clear that councils cannot object to masts on health grounds because "the planning system is not the place for determining health safeguards". Yet studies are revealing worrying levels of symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, nausea, dizziness, difficulties in sleeping and concentrating, and learning and memory problems in people living near the masts - and there is also some suggestion that there may be an increase in cancers and heart disease.
Nevertheless, councils are instructed by the rules to "respond positively" to the phone companies’ plans and, in practice, can reject a mast only on aesthetic grounds. The Deputy Prime Minister, John Prescott, promised a review by the end of 2004. It never took place, but last week the Department for Communities and Local Government confirmed that the advice to local authorities is to be re-examined.
A spokesman for the department said: "We are examining developments in research on this issue. It is something that is going to be looked at."

5 Cancer clusters found around phone masts again
(22 April 2007 Daniel Foggo Times On Line)

SEVEN clusters of cancer and other serious illnesses have been discovered around mobile phone masts, raising concerns over the technology’s potential impact on health.
Studies of the sites show high incidences of cancer, brain haemorrhages and high blood pressure within a radius of 400 yards of mobile phone masts.
One of the studies, in Warwickshire, showed a cluster of 31 cancers around a single street. A quarter of the 30 staff at a special school within sight of the 90ft high mast have developed tumours since 2000, while another quarter have suffered significant health problems.
The mast is being pulled down by the mobile phone after the presentation of the evidenceoperator O2 by local protesters. While rejecting any links to ill-health, O2 admitted the decision was “clearly rare and unusual”.

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