[BPSDB]It is clearly time for scare stories about microwave radiation again. The “Body Matters” pages in the Monday 7 September issue (paper edition only. Not online for some reason) of the METRO carried a story by Yanar Alkayat headed “The hidden dangers in your pocket“. If that is not scary enough, alongside it is an X-ray photograph of someone using a mobile phone. The unspoken implication is that microwaves have similar effects to X rays, which is nonsense.
I strongly suspect that the picture has been photoshopped. The phone hides the bones of the hand holding it, meaning the user is pointing it away from his/her ear – a rather strange way to use a phone.
Things do not get better when you get to the text of the story. It claims that Wi-Fi is “on every street corner” which is not true but does give the impression that we are being bathed in microwave radiation wherever we go.. The second paragraph quotes Alasdair Philips of Powerwatch (for which a web address is given), which is described as “an independent organisation researching electromagnetic fields and health”. Many people will interpret “independent” as “unbiased” or “lacking a commercial interest” which is not the case here as the power watch website links to an online store selling stuff to protect you from “electrosmog”.
The story treats electromagnetic hypersensitivity as proven fact, which is far from being the case. Let me be quite clear, I am not disputing that people claiming to be electrosensitive genuinely have the symptoms they describe. I am disputing that they are caused by microwaves. In a provocation experiment shown on Panorama a while back, a woman claiming to be so electrosensitive that she had to sleep in an aluminium-foil lined room could only correctly say whether a source of microwaves was on or off two times out of three – quite possibly little more than chance.
A side-bar claims, amongst other things, that Sweden recognises electromagnetic sensitivity as a medical condition. Not strictly true – the Swedish health authorities recognise that the symptoms sufferers describe are genuine (and so pays benefits to those unable to work) but to the best of my knowledge does not accept that microwaves are the cause.
It is claimed that “long term exposure [to mobile phone radiation] has been linked to male infertility and sperm quality”. We are not told who has made this link nor where the evidence has been published. No medical paper is cited – not even a web address is given. The same applies to the claim that microwaves can cause DNA and cellular changes at levels below the limits set by the International Commission for Non-ionising Radiation Proterction.
Note the existance of the above body and the limits it sets because a few lines later Alkayat is claiming that “The effect of Wi-Fi on our health has never been tested or regulated”. What are exposure limits if not regulations? The canard of non-regulation leads into Philips warning us that “this constant soup of radiation could be making us unwell”. Note the use of the word “could” – I rather think that this means he has no actual evidence but then there is no evidence that this constant soup of radiation exists either.
If your mobile phone wasn’t enough to scare you we are told that “several studies from Russia and Japan have found a significant decrease in vitamins B, C and E, as well as essential minerals, in foods cooked in the microwave. In one study broccoli lost 97 percent of its antioxidants.” Again, no references or links are given. Any form of cooking, be it microwaving or traditional heating, will denature organic compounds like vitamins to some extent. I would love to know the mechanism by which minerals (which are simple salts for the most part) are leeched out by microwaving.
We are then told that cordless landline phones could also be affecting our health because they operate on a “similar” frequency to mobile phones . Actually it is ten percent lower. However we can avoid these dangers by purchasing a low-radiation device. Funnily enough the price (£79.99), name of suppliers (Orchid) and their web address (www.lowradiation.co.uk) are given.
In the final paragraph we are told that baby monitors also “shockingly” operate on a “similar” frequency. This would only be shocking if phone microwaves were dangerous but the evidence we have is that this is not the case.
In short, this story is full of sly implications and at least one outright lie. No references or links are given for the studies which allegedly demonstrate the dangers of microwaves. The only links we are given are for supplies of devices that will allegedly protect us from these dangers. You can draw your own conclusions from this; with Britain’s oppressive libel laws in mind, I refuse to draw any.