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In 1960, in a hospital a few miles uptown, my mother gave birth to me under bright, electric lights with an epidural that erased her pain and made her unconscious for my arrival. While my mother slept in a nearby room, nurses fed me commercial formula that I could not digest.
Compared to most humans born after World War II, there’s nothing special about my techno-birth. Compared to most mammals, it’s a recipe for abandonment and a life questioning, What is home?
Besides home, I’m looking for people who want to know technology’s dangers and who’ll practice self-regulation to protect nature and health. I figure I’ve come to the right place.
I’d like to spell out some troubling rules and studies about electronics, and some regulations we can implement ourselves. But first, let’s go back a few billion years, before man-made laws or mobile phones, when this planet was a mass of gasses, water, dust and rock.
After a buildup of charge, lightning began to strike. A bombardment of lightning storms led to nucleic and amino acids, the building blocks of life. Early plants made oxygen and paved the way for animals.
Plants and animals still function by electro-chemical signals. So do our brains and hearts. Even at rest, all cells have measurable voltage. In other words, without electromagnetic energy, none of us would be here.
By 1880, we humans figured out how to generate, store and transmit electrical energy over long distances. We got electric lights. We got motors and built refrigerators. We got radio and TV.
Since 1934, our Federal Communications Commission has said, go forth and invent electronics–as long as you don’t create “harmful interference.” This means we can’t disrupt existing radio, TV and cellular broadcasts. “Harmful interference” at the FCC has never included biological harm.
Call this exclusion of nature.
In 1996, our FCC filled the head of a 200 pound plastic man with salty fluid. The engineers called him SAM, for Standard Anthropomorphic Man. They took SAM’s temperature. They gave the dude a cell phone for six minutes, then they took his temperature again.
SAM’s temp had changed by less than two degrees.
And so, the FCC determined that mobile devices are safe. Call this test insufficient.
Next, everybody got a cell phone. Then came smartphones, which also transmit Wi-Fi. Providers installed about 300,000 cell towers. In a few short years, we blanketed our environment with frequencies and amplitudes that do not exist in nature.
We want to know the effects of long-term exposure. What happens if exposure begins in utero? What if a child can see a cell tower from her bedroom window? What if a utility company installs a microwave-transmitting “smart” meter on your breaker box and you’ve got a medical implant? How do wildlife react when around cell towers?
If the FCC has considered these questions, they’ve not made their studies public.
Many scientists have. For 1800 peer-reviewed studies about the biological effects of EMR exposure, please visit BioInitiative.org.
Most studies come from Europe, Turkey and the Middle East, because U.S. telecom providers will not give subscribers’ usage data to epidemiologists. Another questionable situation
So what are the biological effects of exposure to EMR?
Fundamental things are affected, including the rate of calcium release from a cell’s membrane, the brain’s metabolic rate, the rate of DNA breakage, melatonin production, and decreased sperm production.
A Swedish study found that people who begin using a digital cell phone as teenagers or younger have a 420% increased risk of brain cancer.
South Korean teens now commonly have dementia. Their doctors think this comes from excessive screen time–and using only one side of their brains.
After Wi-Fi was installed in Los Angeles schools, some children began bleeding from their noses and ears.
A British toddler was admitted to an addiction treatment center because she would not let go of an iPad. A 31-year-old man with Google Glass was admitted for Internet addiction disorder because he was online 18 hours a day.
When people with deep brain stimulators for Parkinson’s ride in a Prius and the car breaks and recharges its battery, pulsed magnetic fields from the car’s computers shut off the medical implant.
Men with erectile dysfunction are 2.6 times more likely to keep a cell phone in their front pants pocket. Now, we all want men to assume more responsibility with birth control; but I don’t think this qualifies.
Lots of folks just don’t feel well after they get Wi-Fi or a new mobile device or their utility installs smart meters or a cell tower goes up nearby. They don’t sleep. They get headaches and memory problems. Their eyes strain. They get nausea and strange rashes.
European and Russian studies since the 1960s associate these symptoms and many more with exposure to radiofrequency radiation from radar and now mobile devices, cell towers, Wi-Fi and smart meters.
As for wildlife, a Spanish biologist studied a common frog habitat 140 meters from a cell tower. He built a metal box around some frogs. Two months later, these shielded frogs had a mortality of 4.2%. The unshielded frogs had a mortality of 90%.
While white stork pairs tried to build nests near antennas, they often fought over sticks. Their sticks fell to the ground. The nests did not get built. Chicks frequently died.
In a German study, 65% of bee colonies abandoned their hives when nearby cell towers went live. GMOs, pesticides and monocultures likely also play roles in colony collapse. But ill bees typically die in or near their hives. In this study, no ill bees were found.
Bees use cryptochromes, magnetically sensitive genes in their eyes, to sense the Earth’s electromagnetic energy fields and to navigate. Exposure to EMR emitted by cell towers disrupts cryptochrome-based navigation.
Humans also have cryptochromes. They’re involved in our sleep cycles.
Here’s another red flag. Section 704 of the 1996 Telecommunications Act states that no health or environmental concern may interfere with the placement of telecom equipment as long as it complies with FCC emissions guidelines. Among other things, this means that even if you can prove that a cell phone caused brain cancer, you can’t sue the provider.
So. Did Congress or AT&T know something they don’t want us to know about how cell phones and towers affect health or wildlife?
And why doesn’t the FCC employ even one person to routinely measure radiation emitted by those 300,000 cell towers?
Many people consider electronic technologies “green.” But broadcasting data wirelessly takes much more energy than transmitting data on copper wire or optical fiber. A mobile call requires three times as much energy as a corded landline call. To keep air conditioned, data centers require the equivalent of 30 nuclear power plants. If data centers were a country, they would rank fifth in use of energy.
For the most part, modern technologies expand our use of energy. They do not curtail it.
In March of 2014, the CDC reported that one in 42 boys has autism. This number is up by nearly a third since 2012. We don’t know the cause of autism nor of this alarming trend. But a Bay Area pediatrician now has a free protocol that includes turning Wi-Fi off at night, and keeping mobile devices away from children.
One family had a non-verbal ten-year-old who screamed from 10pm till 3am every night. Within three days of turning Wi-Fi off and unplugging cordless phones, this boy spoke a complete sentence. This family lived on a military base, but they kept reducing their own EMR emissions, and Dr. Jelter prescribed therapeutic-grade fish oil. After three weeks, the boy’s screaming stopped. He slept through the night. His mother’s seizure disorder also decreased.
My report, “Calming Behavior in Children with Autism and ADHD,” is at electronicsilentspring.com. And you don’t need autism to try the protocol.
This video plays the sound of electromagnetic radiation from different sources. I’m showing it because the background radiation here may be too high for us to discern individual devices.
Please, let’s get informed about the biological effects of electronics.
The smart grid aims to reduce our use of electricity and make delivery of it more efficient. But most “smart” meters are wireless. They emit EMR, create health hazards, violate security and waste energy. “Smart” meters are not necessary for a smart grid. “Smart” meters can transmit pulsed EMR every 15 seconds. They can shut off pacemakers. Like other wireless technologies, they’re not UL certified, which means that if a smart meter fire damages your house, your home owner’s insurance likely won’t cover you.
Safer technology is available for an intelligent grid. Let your utility commissioners know.
Learn about transformers. Big transformers convert voltages on the grid. Smaller transformers–switch-mode power supplies–are used by devices like mobile phones, compact fluorescent lights and solar power inverters. Transformers can generate magnetic fields that apparently cause leukemia.
Solar power can operate safely. Thoroughly filtered inverters can deliver clean DC or AC electricity without harmonics.
Please be aware that broadband over powerlines and distributed antenna systems can blanket your town in electromagnetic radiation.
With new “green” ordinances, providers no longer need to prove that a new cell tower can withstand 130 mph winds for example. This is another red flag. Why would a legislator give up the permitting process when cell towers regularly collapse and catch fire?
Around the country, school systems have issued iPads for every child. Last July, FCC Chair Tom Wheeler committed $2 billion for high speed Wi-Fi in our schools. Call these risks to every child’s health and mind.
At the conclusion of Silent Spring, Rachel Carson called on pesticide users’ humility. She asked pesticide users to acknowledge “the vast forces with which they tampered.” Could we get humble and acknowledge that using wireless technologies tampers with vast forces?
Because of the extraordinary powers at our fingertips, we may lose sight of laws that value mobile devices more than our ecosystem or our health. We might ignore that depending on a mobile phone gives technology and corporations control of our lives. We may fail to notice that no app can steer us home.
Clearly, the FCC and telecom providers value profits more than our ecosystem and our health. If we value health and nature more than an electronic device, then what is our responsibility?
I think we’ve got to start making limits. To begin, consider not using mobile devices around pregnant women or children.
Get cabled Internet access.
Think twice before using a mobile device in a moving car or train. At every mile, your phone connects to a new base station and goes to maximum power. EMR gets trapped in the car and bounces around. Not good.
Join others who’ve gotten “smart” meters removed and analog utility meters restored to their homes.
Guard building codes for safe installation of new and upgraded cell towers.
Is anyone here ready to commit to even one of these limits, starting today? Would you stand up?
Katie Singer works on public policy with the Electromagnetic Radiation Policy Institute. A medical journalist, her books include The Garden of Fertility (Avery, 2004), Honoring Our Cycles (New Trends, 2006) Honoring Our Cycles in Africa (2007). Her novel, The Wholeness of a Broken Heart (Riverhead, 1999) was a selection of Barnes & Noble’s Discover Great New Writers Program. Her latest book is Electronic Silent Spring. She teaches internationally.
This article is based on a talk given at the Techno-Utopianism and the Fate of the Earth Teach-In (www.ifg.org) at Cooper Union, October 25, 2014.