Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Wireless Networking Biotech Communications Hardware Science

Cell Towers Not Responsible For Illness 355

Posted by kdawson
from the tinfoil-underwear dept.
drewmoney notes a BBC article on a major UK study of whether cell towers (or "mobile phone masts" as they are called in the UK) cause illness. The study concluded strongly that symptoms of illness caused by mobile phone masts are all in the mind. People claiming sensitivity to radio emissions showed more symptoms in trials, according to the article, whether signals were being emitted or not. Quoting: "Dozens of people who believed the masts triggered symptoms such as anxiety, nausea and tiredness could not detect if signals were on or off in trials. However, the Environmental Health Perspectives study stressed people were nonetheless suffering 'real symptoms.' Campaign group Mast Sanity said the results were skewed as 12 people in the trials dropped out because of illness."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Cell Towers Not Responsible For Illness

Comments Filter:
  • by nokilli (759129) on Thursday July 26, 2007 @08:39AM (#19995053)

    Dozens of people who believed the masts triggered symptoms such as anxiety, nausea and tiredness could not detect if signals were on or off in trials.
    That's not the test. People can believe and are in fact poisoned by additives in our food and yet if pressed to detect if a given mean contained additives they wouldn't be able to tell.

    The obvious way to conduct such a study would be to correlate the incidence of illness with the proximity to radio sources.

    --
    Censored [blogspot.com] by [blogspot.com] Technorati [blogspot.com] and now, Blogger too! [blogspot.com]
    • by QuantumG (50515) <qg@biodome.org> on Thursday July 26, 2007 @08:44AM (#19995093) Homepage Journal
      I've had a toothache for the last week (seeing the dentist tomorrow alright?) and I've been reading Slashdot every day. Must be Slashdot causing my toothache because my friend, he doesn't read Slashdot and he doesn't have a toothache.

      Science ftw.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by nokilli (759129)
        And for a sample of two of course the results would be meaningless.

        But if out of a sample of 10,000, 5,000 were experiencing toothaches, and it just happened that those same 5,000 were reading slashdot, things would be more interesting.

        --
        Censored [blogspot.com] by [blogspot.com] Technorati [blogspot.com] and now, Blogger too! [blogspot.com]
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by ajs (35943)

        I've had a toothache for the last week (seeing the dentist tomorrow alright?) and I've been reading Slashdot every day. Must be Slashdot causing my toothache because my friend, he doesn't read Slashdot and he doesn't have a toothache.

        Science ftw.

        Wow, what a horrible lack of understanding of what a clinical trial is all about.

        First off the OP misunderstood the article. The "detection" that the test was seeking was people becoming ill, not people saying, "OK, I think it's on now."

        Second, when you have a single anecdote, there's no value in that. There are just too many variables.

        In a clinical trial, you attempt to limit the variables and compare multiple people's results in order to determine the causal relationship for a given problem. For example,

    • It cuts both ways (Score:4, Insightful)

      by brunes69 (86786) <<gro.daetsriek> <ta> <todhsals>> on Thursday July 26, 2007 @08:44AM (#19995097) Homepage
      Basically this is how you do a placebo trial. The science is telling us that these people are sick, but it is not due to radio towers, because having the radiation on or off is not making any statistically significant difference at all in their symptoms.

      It is the same as when you do a dug trial with 1/2 the people getting sugar pills, and in a huge majority of *both* groups the people get better. You use statistics to find out the *true* efficacy of your medicine.

      Basically - the point is the illness could be being caused by any number of other local-specific factors, but cell towers is not the cause.

      • by Lurker2288 (995635) on Thursday July 26, 2007 @10:03AM (#19995993)
        I would say that because of the double blind control, it's clear that the radio signals are not causing the intensification of symptoms that patients report when they believe the signals are on--clearly, they can't tell the difference whether the tower is active or not. But this study doesn't show that long term exposure to the cell towers doesn't cause problems.

        For what it's worth, I think it's all a lot of BS, but let's not overstate the evidence of any one experiment.
    • by GauteL (29207) on Thursday July 26, 2007 @08:49AM (#19995137)
      Well, you could have bothered to RTFA. People's perception is important because it may be (and the study suggests) that it is people's perception that causes illness.

      They tested on both people's perception and symptoms such as sweaty skin and high blood pressure.

      They found that people with these symptoms felt unwell regardless of whether the mast was off or not and that they generally had no idea whether the mast was on or off. If they were truly ill from signal sensitivity they should be able to tell whether the mast was on or off depending on their general feeling of well-being.

      The effects were, however, real. Thus it seems like a classic case of placebo, but the "Mast sanity" campaign group obviously refuses to acknowledge that this may be psychological effects.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by lilomar (1072448)
        Psychosomatism, [wikipedia.org] FTW!
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by yada21 (1042762)

        People's perception is important because it may be (and the study suggests) that it is people's perception that causes illness.
        But if it's perception that it causes an illness that causes the illness, then the problem isn't the mast's, it's perception. So that's what should be changed. I'm not sure it's easy to do. Shouting "YOU"RE IMAGINING IT, YOU LOONS!" probably won't work.

        It all sounds like a kind of circular argument to me.
    • by Vihai (668734)

      You can say that under pressure people would not be able to detect the effect under study but in this case the symptoms were very present!

      You can say that under pressure people may develop those symptoms, but, again, in other tests people under pressure do not develop such symptoms.

      The obvious way to conduct such studies is NOT by trying to find a correlation, because correlation does not prove a cause->effect relation.

    • Actually, the best way would be to use subjects which have no subjective bias: rabbits, monkeys, etc. After all, they are trying to test whether or not the masts are causing the symptoms. Mind you, they cannot control for other possible environmental influences, i.e. other sources of radiation, because they are so prevalent and widely varied. The drawback to using animals is that how do you know if they are nauseous or dizzy?

      I'm going to save them a lot of trouble and expense and posit that the masts are not causing the symptoms, from the standpoint of radiation exposure, because radiation is all around, in various intensities and wavelengths all the time. While I don't have my old astrophysics textbooks handy and I don't have statistics on cell tower emission strengths, I'm willing to bet the extra amount of radiation from the masts is insignificant compared to the general background radiation and would only pose a threat if it were highly concentrated and you were living in extremely close proximity.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by sepluv (641107)
      They've already done that, and I think most of the studies done so far have shown some correlation (although I don't think it was glaringly strong).

      They are now trying to prove a causal link. There are many reasons for an apparent correlation, including just coincidence and bias in the studies (e.g.:where they choose to do them), and, even if there is a real correlation, a direct causal link is one of many possible explanations (e.g.: off the top of my head, poor people might get ill more due to a lack of g

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by slobarnuts (666254)
      Your counterexample is poor. A person can not be poisoned by an additive if the additive is not in the food. Whether they detect it or not is of no consequence, it is their belief that matters. If they beleive they have a sensitivity to an additive, and they beleive they received a food with that additive, then they are going to be more prone to exhibit symptoms of poisoning, regardless of whether the food has the additive in it or not. There, i just made your counter-example fit the model of this test. B
    • by 1u3hr (530656)
      Dozens of people who believed the masts triggered symptoms such as anxiety, nausea and tiredness could not detect if signals were on or off in trials.
      That's not the test. People can believe and are in fact poisoned by additives in our food and yet if pressed to detect if a given mean contained additives they wouldn't be able to tell.
      The obvious way to conduct such a study would be to correlate the incidence of illness with the proximity to radio sources.

      Actually, many studies of illness have been made,

      • by CmdrGravy (645153)
        One of these sufferers was on the news last night. She wears a copper veil because without it she can immediately sense radiation sources and, as well as the headaches and nausea, the vision in her left eye will become blurred and tired at the end of the day.

        I think a lot of people claim this sort of immediate sensitivity and this is what the study was investigating.
        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by clifforch (515800)

          ... as well as the headaches and nausea, the vision in her left eye will become blurred and tired at the end of the day.
          Sounds like a textbook case of migraine to me. These can often be bought on by stress in combination with other factors such as diet.

        • That woman was a crackpot. She carried round a sodding speaker that 'converted the radiation to sound' and demonstrated how it sounded like loud static which was "clearly not good". What did she expect, the conversion to sound to sound like Beethoven or something? Idiot.

          Also, a gauze? Yeah, that'll 'save' her.

          I'm glad someone actually finally did an investigation of placebo here as there's far too much sensationalism about radio waves and far too little science.
          • by Lockejaw (955650)

            That woman was a crackpot. She carried round a sodding speaker that 'converted the radiation to sound' and demonstrated how it sounded like loud static which was "clearly not good". What did she expect, the conversion to sound to sound like Beethoven or something? Idiot.
            Isn't static what you hear when there's pretty much nothing being broadcast?
    • by blueg3 (192743)
      Sure, the obvious way is to correlate illness incidence to radio source proximity. This, however, deals with subjective illnesses (anxiety, tiredness) and addresses the very problem with simply making this correlation -- the "whether or not you are ill" measurement is not accurate.

      Your analogy isn't quite appropriate, though. Suppose you were allergic to a food additive. I find many people who also claim this. I put all of you on separate diets, with nearly-identical food, except that about half of your die
    • Yes but in this case its the RADIATION that they are blaming on the sickness. If people are saying they are getting sick with the tower not even powered up, then it is NOT the tower doing it as the only source of said sickness that could be attributed to the tower would be missing.

      Your method of testing doesnt even relate to the problem at hand, that of people making up illnesses over a perceived threat. Using your analogy, its more like saying this food is poisoned and getting sicker and sicker as you ea

    • The obvious way to conduct such a study would be to correlate the incidence of illness with the proximity to radio sources.

      That is what they tested! They did a double blind test, with a control group (it doesn't get much more scientific), which found no correlation between the transmitter being on or off and the subject becoming ill (as reported by themselves but also by physical symptoms such as sweating and higher blood pressure).

      That means that there is no evidence for a link between radiation from m

      • you're correct, insofar as this trial pretty much destroys the notion that the tower radiation causes immediately detectable symptomology. But this doesn't assess the possible long term effects of the radiation. To play devil's advocate, suppose that the tower radiation does make you sick. These people enroll in a trial to test the effect of radiation, and because they already believe the radiation is effecting them, they're more prone to the power of suggestion than the control group, which leads them to b
    • by attonitus (533238)
      Talking of bad science, here are Ben Goldacre's comments [badscience.net]. And here is also a copy of the original paper [badscience.net] (30 double-spaced pages) so that you can judge for yourself.
    • by NickFortune (613926) on Thursday July 26, 2007 @10:19AM (#19996151) Homepage Journal

      To address the question in the subject line - bad reporting. There was a much better radio interview on BBC Radio 4 with one of the researchers, and a representative from one of the mast pressure groups.

      IIRC, it was acknowledged all round that the test was well conducted and that the methodology was sound. The primary criticism raised was that the test didn't account for long term exposure effects. The researcher conceded that proper controls were problematic in a case like this; that more research was needed into long term effects, and that a double blind test would also be useful. The possibility of confirmation bias among those complaining of ill-health due to EM radiation was also discussed.

      The problem here seems to be the Beeb web page punching up the headlines, and then Slashdot exacerbating the effect by further sensationalising things. At the end of the day, the result didn't prove anything other than the fact that people don't seem to be able to consciously detect when a phone mast is on or off, and the researchers seem quite happy with that result.

      That said, I was listening with half an ear whilst driving home down the A19, so I may have some of the details wrong. Take it for what it's worth....

  • cooties (Score:4, Funny)

    by Gearoid_Murphy (976819) on Thursday July 26, 2007 @08:40AM (#19995057)
    I heard that, this one time, this guy, got like cooties from a cell tower, true story.
  • Psychological? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Nimsoft (858559) on Thursday July 26, 2007 @08:41AM (#19995073)
    I'd be willing to bet a fair amount of the 'symptoms' people claim they are suffering from wireless signals (I've even had someone moan that my WiFi signal was giving them a headache!) are entirely psychological. I put the router where nobody could see it, the complaints stopped :)
    • by sepluv (641107)
      Actually, I've inadvertently subjected myself to blind tests on this (with my Wi-Fi dongle--the router doesn't give me a headache) on a couple of occasions by wondering why I had a headache when I thought it was off and going to check it. I think this depends very much on the person and the WiFi transmitter used.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by eggoeater (704775)
        You just negated your own argument...how can a wifi dongle give you a headache but a wifi router not?

        I think this depends very much on the person and the WiFi transmitter used.
        I think it just depends on the person.

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by iainl (136759)
          I think it also depends on the transmitter. If, for example, there's a malfunctioning transformer in there giving of a barely-noticeable high-pitched buzzing noise, that could be giving a headache.

          There are plenty of sensible reasons for equipment to cause effects, it's just that (as far as we can tell) merely being an 802.11 transmitter isn't one of them.
        • by sepluv (641107)

          how can a wifi dongle give you a headache but a wifi router not?
          I didn't test this too much, so it may just be that I tended to spend extended periods of time very close to the dongle (what with it being on the PC) but not the router. The dongle was a bit faulty in that it used to overheat and cut out, so that may be connected somehow. I haven't had headaches as much when I've tried other people's dongles. Anyway, I'm got good old cat5e cabling now, much less hassle.
        • by sholden (12227)
          No one has ever complained of headaches/etc (aside from a case of pneumonia which I'm pretty sure isn't cause by radio waves) at my place - we've had a lot of visitors staying for a few days in the last couple of years.

          My laptop picked up 45 access points last time I ran network stumbler. Plus there are 4 always on 11g clients. In a one-and-a-half bedroom apartment.

          I would expect someone to have had a seizure upon stepping out of the elevator...

      • by gad_zuki! (70830) on Thursday July 26, 2007 @11:19AM (#19997021)
        I think this depends very much on the person and the WiFi transmitter used.

        It might. for instance a lot of these symptoms are generic "illness" symptoms. You may have:

        1. A person who is just a garden-variety neurotic. Purely pyschosomatic. Or they suffer from a mild form of mental illness but do not know it (manageable bipolar 2, low grade depression, low grade GAD, etc)

        2. A person with an undiagnosed thyroid or blood sugar problem. Unfortunately, they have been led to believe that their problems stem from technology, not biology.

        3. A person who very sensitive skin. Some people may be able to feel *something* if they are near a transsmitter, but never enough to cause anything like the symptoms described. This something feeling may make them politically sympathetic to people in 1 and 2.

        4. Nutters. The typical tin-foil brigade. They may have started as a 1 but have degenerated into this.

        5. People who suffer from work or person life related stress. They have real symptoms but its not the cell tower, its their crappy marriage.

        I can also imagine that people in groups 1 and 5 may also have their symptoms made worse by actually carrying a cellphone. They know that *anyone* can call them on it, including the people in their lives who stress them out or are at the source of the negative relationships. They also may feel resentment to the "24/7" society and just holding a phone or being near one causes anxiety and a little depression. Seeing the tower only reminds them of this tenfold.

        So I think its fair to say its a mixed bag out there. A lot of these people certainly have my sympathy, but they should not be attacking the cell phone companies. They should be angry at themselves for not attending to their personal problems. They should be seeking recourse with a therapist or a doctor. Hopefully, these people will realize that aliens, liberals, taxes, jet contrails, vaccinations, err cell phone towers arent the problem.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by eggoeater (704775)
      Yup. It's called psychosomatic and people will find any number or reasons to be ill due to it.
      My wife use to work at an insect ID lab...she's an entomologist, and at least once a week someone
      would send in a piece of fuzz or lint with a letter claiming that these bugs were making them sick.

      Wether it's cell phone towers, power lines, non-existent bugs, or viruses you cant see, there are some people who are convinced the world is out to get them, and it's not their fault.


    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      Absolutely. People can make themselves sick by believing that something is making them sick. Like, if I told you that in studies, reading Slashdot everyday gave people severe headaches, and if you really believed me, you'd start getting headaches. If the brain believes the body is sick, the body will be sick. After all, the brain controls everything in the body, right?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by samkass (174571)
      entirely psychological

      There is no such thing as symptoms that are "entirely psychological". The cause may not be triggered by the physical interaction of the radio waves with the body, but so-called "psychosomatic" symptoms are still very real. Blood pressure changes, headaches, nausea, nervous system abnormalities, heart palpitations, muscle weakness, dizziness, "cloudy" thinking, sinus pressure, rashes, abdominal pain, diarrhea, insomnia, and many other physical issues can be triggered by stress and non
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      It's not necessarily psychosomatic. When I was young, I was diagnosed with CFS/ME [wikipedia.org]. Apparently, there were a huge crop of cases in the immediate vicinity at around the same time, far above typical levels. I happened to live right by one of the most powerful tv/radio masts in England. Naturally, some of the people who were diagnosed blamed the mast without any scientific knowledge or even a reason, it was just something to blame. It made them feel in control because they liked the idea that they knew so

  • It's turned off (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Dozens of people who believed the masts triggered symptoms such as anxiety, nausea and tiredness could not detect if signals were on or off in trials.

    I was operating a high powered transmitter in a small village with lousy tv reception. One of the locals came down to the site and complained to me that my equipment was interfering with his tv. I asked him if it was happening right now. He said yes and we went up to his house to check out the symptoms. His tv reception was quite noisy. When he drove me b

  • by Rik Sweeney (471717) on Thursday July 26, 2007 @08:48AM (#19995119) Homepage
    then the Nokia Wifi Cloud that blankets London would be making everyone that lives there neurotic and irritable.

    Oh wait...
  • by aadvancedGIR (959466) on Thursday July 26, 2007 @08:50AM (#19995149)
    I once worked for a GSM handset manufacturer that had a couple of test BTS in the building and I can tell you that after a day of work there, I was suffering of anxiety, headaches and tiredness, but almost never during weekends.
    • by eggoeater (704775) on Thursday July 26, 2007 @09:02AM (#19995273) Journal

      I once worked for a GSM handset manufacturer that had a couple of test BTS in the building and I can tell you that after a day of work there, I was suffering of anxiety, headaches and tiredness, but almost never during weekends.
      So you're tired and achy at work but feel relaxed on the weekends....

      hmmmm.... I often have those same symptoms and I don't work around transmitters.


    • by dunkelfalke (91624) on Thursday July 26, 2007 @09:04AM (#19995295)
      afair vodafone has built a cellphone tower in a small german village and the villagians complained for months about headaches and loss of sleep.
      then vodafone revealed that the tower wasn't switched on yet.
      • by zazzel (98233)
        Though it *is* funny, I wonder why the comment was modded funny instead of informative. Yes, the story is correct - ppl. were complaining about an antenna that was not yet active.


        Then there's people complaining who live *under* GMS/UMTS antennas, outside of the antennas radio waves' reach.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by robably (1044462)
        This just proves that it's the shape of the cellphone towers that causes the headaches, rather than the radio waves they transmit. Those big metal structures are the perfect shape for channeling masses of concentrated "negative vibes".

        They cause crop circles, too.
      • by Detritus (11846) on Thursday July 26, 2007 @09:58AM (#19995947) Homepage
        Amateur radio operators suffer from the same problem. Put up a visible antenna and you will get blamed for all sorts of problems with your neighbors' stereos and television sets, none of which have any correlation to an active transmitter. Normally intelligent people will convince themselves that you are the cause of their problems, and even make threats, while refusing to listen to any evidence that exonerates the amateur radio operator.
      • Could we swap my "Interesting" and your "Funny", I'll think it would be better.
    • by ivan256 (17499)
      Those sound like the normal symptoms of not liking your job.
  • by MrKaos (858439) on Thursday July 26, 2007 @08:55AM (#19995205) Journal
    This guy ran around in a tank demolishing phone towers because he thought he got cancer from them

    http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2007/07/14/11838 33843064.html?from=top5 [theage.com.au] and a video

    http://video.aol.com/video-detail/id/1439921521 [aol.com]

    OR it was because his mobile phone bills were too high, and I know I can relate to that.

  • Fence sittin ho' (Score:4, Interesting)

    by tomstdenis (446163) <tomstdenis@@@gmail...com> on Thursday July 26, 2007 @08:58AM (#19995241) Homepage
    While I don't think there is a strong connection between the two (I work beside a cell tower, and over the last 9 months or so I haven't had more or fewer illnesses than before), it's entirely possible that the effects of the radiation take more than a small measure of time to feel. It isn't like you see a light on or off, or hear a noise.

    For example, when placed under a heat lamp, it could easily take 5 seconds before "pain" was registered, it doesn't mean that the heat wasn't hurting you 5 seconds ago, it means it takes a while for the sub-dermal layers to heat up. So it's entirely possible that prolonged exposure to the radiation is causing them problems.

    However, if they claimed they feel instant pain the minute the transmitter kicks on, they're probably lying.

    Tom
    • by Rosyna (80334)

      For example, when placed under a heat lamp, it could easily take 5 seconds before "pain" was registered, it doesn't mean that the heat wasn't hurting you 5 seconds ago, it means it takes a while for the sub-dermal layers to heat up. So it's entirely possible that prolonged exposure to the radiation is causing them problems.

      Except these people often claim immediate relief when there is no cell mast around. I'm not saying it's completely psychological (like all sleeping pills have a risk of psychological dependancy), This study suggests they need to rule out cell masts as the cause and do more to study the baseline cause of their ills. I imagine there is pornography involved.

    • However, if they claimed they feel instant pain the minute the transmitter kicks on, they're probably lying.

      If you had read the article, you would know that they complain of nausea, headaches and tiredness (impossible to measure and quite easily caused by psychological causes), but that they also show measurable physical effects such as sweating and increased blood pressure! The thing is, there was no correlation between them experiencing these symptoms on the one hand and the transmitter actually being o

    • Not likely (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Sycraft-fu (314770)
      You have to understand this isn't the first study to be done on this. People have been claiming the evil radiation from various sources has been killing us for DECADES. Power lines were a popular target, cell phones of course, WiFi, radio stations, etc. Well there has been some rather serious research that has gone in to this and nothing has been found for any source. This is just basic AFDB crap.

      The power lines are the ones I remember the best, since the house I lived in as a little kid was very near some
  • Notice the article conveniently omitted any technical details, like how many WATTS are transmitted.

    If your tower is talking to hundreds or thousands of phones, the transmit power has to go up or the bandwidth will go down.
    • by blueg3 (192743)
      Interesting physics you've got there, relating power and bandwidth. You know radio is one of the places where the proper definition of bandwidth is applicable?
  • by D-Cypell (446534) on Thursday July 26, 2007 @09:05AM (#19995307)
    A few years ago I attended one of those little village meetings that happen often in little English rural villages, which was called to protest the plans to build a mobile phone mast in the village. It was an interesting experience.

    They had handouts that they have printed from websites that were expressing the dangers of living near the masts although, clearly, these were taken from a highly bias source. The guy who called the meetings was not shy about admitting that this biggest concern was the potential drop in value of his grade 2 listed cottage which was positioned quite close to the mast.

    The highlight of the evening though, was a little old man they dragged out to talk about the science. Apparently he had worked on some of the early nuclear power stations in the UK and had also spent time as a science teacher, although long since retired. He gave us a speech about the effects of radiation (not really going into detail about the difference between a phone mast and a nuclear power station in terms of radiation intensity), he talked about the electric systems in the body etc. It was all pretty interesting in a 'high-school physics' kind of way.

    Then, completely out of the blue, this guy starts going into a really passionate tirade about how the government are using mobile phone masts to plant instructions directly into our brains. The look of horror on the organisers face was a picture! I think he saw this old guy as his trump card until this very moment. The guy was ushered off staging mid-sentance. Containing my laughter was quite difficult. I had never actually seen a members of the tin-foil hat brigade in the flesh before!

    The mast got built.

    Now I come to think about it, my voting habits changed around the same kind of time too.... hmmmm
  • The campaign group doesn't say if the 12 people who pulled out because of illness were exposed to radiation or 'placebo'.

    I'm guessing they got huge doses of placebo.

    • It doesn't say what illness they suffered. For all we know, they could have caught something like AIDs although that said groups like this would probably then have us believe mobile phone masts causes AIDs also. Seriously though, it could just as well be something blatantly unrelated like flu that they suffered.
  • "The results were skewed as 12 people in the trials dropped out because of illness."

    Shouldn't that merit further study, to see whether the 12 that took ill are in connection to the mobile phone masts? Or at the very least, add to the claim that they are causing health problems.

  • I'm British and watched a TV programme on a similar study a while back. It seemed that those who were complaining of illness were in-fact next to a tower that was not even operating (a.k.a the 'placebo'). Again, people were leaving the experiment due to health issues.

    I remember being at secondary school and the school accepting a building contract for a mobile-phone company building a mast in on the school property (occupying a small section of the playground). At the time there was uproar that it could
    • and anyway isn't there a bit of a "dead zone" just under the tower itself since all the antennas are like up in the air pointing out and not DOWN (not to mention the tower itself creating a partial faraday cage)

      note this does assume the tower is serving an otherwise dead area
  • by dpbsmith (263124) on Thursday July 26, 2007 @09:34AM (#19995671) Homepage
    I am always leery of articles that do not disclose this early in the article. This article eventually says:

    "The study was funded by the Mobile Telecommunications and Health Research programme, a body which is itself funded by industry and government."

    So, who exactly is the Mobile Telecommunication and Health Research programme? If this were the United States and the study had to do with health effects of nuclear power plants, and if "business and government" meant, say, the EPRI and the "government" agency were the NRC, I'd be very skeptical. On the other hand, if the government agency were the National Institutes of Health, I'd give it a lot of credence.

    The Mobile Telecommunications and Health Research programme has a website, [mthr.org.uk], but I can't judge from it whether this is real science or not.
  • So the "science" in that episode of Panorama was bogus [bbc.co.uk] scaremongering? Well, what a shock. But in the present political climate, I doubt the BBC will be reporting that the science in this other episode of Panorama [bbc.co.uk] was just as shaky, presenting only one sided coverage of an ongoing scientific debate. (For example, here [washington.edu] is a list of some "off message" articles - notice the reputable journals that they have been published in.)
  • It's not just cell radiation, it's electricity in general!!!! These electro-magnetic waves interfere with your thinking and kill your fornits!!!!! How else do you explain the idiocy that happens around the world wherever electricity appears?????!!!!! BEWARE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Now if you excuse me, I gotta call the cable, telephone, and power companies and cancel my services.
  • by Jeff1946 (944062) on Thursday July 26, 2007 @10:31AM (#19996325) Journal
    Drive to the top of Mt. Wilson above LA, there are a zillion transmitting towers. The TV towers each put out hundreds of kilowatts of rf. If the birds and squirrels up there are doing ok, then it is hard to understand how a cell tower could cause problems. A friend of mine who used to work on a radio system for taxis up there, said much of his test gear would go crazy due to all the rf. Until someone can show how rf radiation can affect DNA, there is no mechanism for rf to cause cancer.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ZorbaTHut (126196)
      Drive to the top of Mt. Wilson above LA, there are a zillion transmitting towers. The TV towers each put out hundreds of kilowatts of rf. If the birds and squirrels up there are doing ok, then it is hard to understand how a cell tower could cause problems.

      Despite Mutations, Chernobyl Wildlife Is Thriving [nationalgeographic.com]

      "In Italy around 40 percent of the barn swallows return each year, whereas the annual survival rate is 15 percent or less for Chernobyl," Mousseau said.

      Conclusion: Wildlife bounces back, breeds quickly, and
  • by Easy2RememberNick (179395) on Thursday July 26, 2007 @11:37AM (#19997351)
    I find it unusual that people claim they are being harmed by the transmissions from cell phone towers and it doesn't matter where they are from.

      In Europe where it's primarily (or only?) GSM and in North America where it's primarily CDMA people are convinced it's harming them. It's seems odd that people are harmed by a broad spectrum of the radio spectrum specifically from 900MHz to 1800MHz and not by microwave ovens, wifi or other common sources.

      It always seems that a 300 foot tall tower a couple of miles away gets more attention than a cell phone transceiver mounted to the top of an office building. You'd think the latter would cause more of an outrage but it's always the tower in the middle of nowhere that gets people riled up. If they can't see it they won't complain, ignorance really is bliss.
  • by LionKimbro (200000) on Thursday July 26, 2007 @11:49AM (#19997577) Homepage
    When I was 12, I'd hang out in the school library reading books on programming.

    The programming section of the library was right next to the UFO section of the library, so I got quite a bit of exposure to the cook section, as well. I remember seeing one book, "The Irradiation of America," or something like that. I opened it up, saw all the predictions about how we'd all be dead by now, due to the TV and radio signals flying around.

    I asked myself, "What educational value could the library possibly see, in getting this book for us kids to read?"

    Now I know.
  • by Qbertino (265505) on Thursday July 26, 2007 @12:25PM (#19998189)
    I see a lot of wannabees rant about this study being run by oh-so scientific scientists and the wearyness about MW being pushed by unscientify crackpots. And that the sun and radio and tv is more radiation blah blah ...

    I've got news for you: Microwaves damage health. Period.
    The debate is only about at which intensity do they start doing that.

    I generally turn my Wifi of if I'm not using it and have stopped carrying my cellphone close to my body, since it's on all day. I turn it off at night. I also hold it away from my head when I make a call until the cell handshake is over and the remote connect is there. My old Siemens M35 even had a beep to indicate when the connect is there. Smart people the Siemens engineers, aren't they?
    Handshake you ask? That's the high-power meep-meep-meep you hear in nearby active FM radios just before you make or recieve a call. It's what establishes the conection to the cell network for communication.

    I know a woman who can sense the cellphone handshake (she has e-magnetic field sensetivity) from meters away and has the habbit of anouncing cellphone calls seconds before a phone rings. Fun to watch with unsuspecting others near by :-) . Her life isn't that fun though. When her neighbor above leaves his 20" CRT on she can't sleep. She's got other trouble with that aswell and people often don't believe her and think she's crazy. She's had her sensetivity tested in a university laboratry and senses alternating fields of CRT coils at different angles with different intensity. I personally presume that the origin for this sensitivity is acutally the inner ear which apparently gets affected by magnetic fields (just an amature theory of mine).

    On it goes:
    My father was a high profile radar electronics engineer - with Military (Nato, Cruise Missile), Airbus, Nasa/Grumman Aircraft (Lunar Module, Skylab & early Space Shuttle) and some others. He forbid us to have a Microwave oven (they ALL leak Microwaves) and steared clear and went the other way whenever we got to close to a radar bubble when going hiking.
    There are people who've had terminal brain tumors due to intense cellphone usage and I work with doctors (medical IT) who keep all equipment far away and well cased according to TCO.

    Don't think it's not unhealthy just because most people don't care or some Telco funded (sic!) study from the UK says the health issues are all bogus and the people claiming health issues are hysteric. It is scientifically proven that even lower wattrange microwaves predictably lower the threshold for internal blood clot (mw induced heat + blood protein == hardboiled) and influence plant groth. Switzerland (iirc, it was some european country) official acknowledges e-magnetic sensetivity and authorities even funds radio shielding paint and other countermeasures for people who are affected. Whatever you make of that, I, for one, would *not* want to live right in smack of the middle of a directional radio beam or the raycone of a cell transciever. Not with proper shielding anyway.

    Bottom line:
    It's not about being hysteric or overly paranoid. But a little common sense and forsight is needed when handling technology. You don't get universal flawless wireless connectivity and mobile coverage without a tradeoff. Anyone who believes that is a crackpot himself.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by gurps_npc (621217)
      So does Sunlight. Causes skin cancer. Better never go out in the sun.

      Look, Microwaves and other radiation has been THOROUGHLY studied over the past 50 years. Yes, 20 years ago you might have been able to buy a consumer item that damaged your body. But we stopped selling sillyness like x-ray shoe fitting machines long ago.

      Any modern piece of radio based equiptment will NOT harm you, even if you hold your cell phone to your head and run it 24 hours a day.

      There are lots of things we don't know about - n

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by swillden (191260) *

      I've got news for you: Microwaves damage health. Period.

      Evidence? Note: One unsubstantiated anecdote about an unnamed woman who can apparently detect the presence of some devices that transmit EM radiation is not evidence. Odds are that what she's detecting is actually sound, not EM, and even if she could detect the EM it would only prove that the radiation has some effect, not that it's harmful.

      Just out of curiosity, have you ever asked your dad why he thinks some frequencies of EM radiation are harmful while others are safe?

  • by PPH (736903) on Thursday July 26, 2007 @01:12PM (#19999023)

    Dozens of people who believed the masts triggered symptoms such as anxiety, nausea and tiredness...
    If you suffer from the above symptoms, stop climbing the tower immediately!

Remember: use logout to logout.

Working...