2 Scribe Publications THE FORCE Lyn McLean is Australia s foremost consumer advocate on the issue of electromagnetic radiation (EMR). An author and educator, she has been monitoring and writing on the subject for more than 15 years. Lyn is the publisher of the quarterly periodical EMR and Health and the author of Watt s the Buzz? (Scribe, 2002), a guide to reducing exposure to EMR. She has represented the community on various national committees related to this issue and is currently the director of EMR Australia, which provides services and assistance in connection with electropollution.
3 For Jacqueline and Alexandra
4 t h e F o r c e l i v i n g s a f e l y i n a w o r l d o f e l e c t r o m a g n e t i c p o l l u t i o n L y n M c L e a n
5 Scribe Publications Pty Ltd PO Box 523 Carlton North, Victoria, Australia First published by Scribe 2011 Copyright Lyn McLean 2011 All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in, or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of the publisher of this book. The following images are reproduced with kind permission of the following individuals and organisations. p. 1 Vladimir Popovic, fotalia image # ; p. 12, from Dalton, L., Radiation Exposures, Scribe Publications, 1991; p. 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 49 Jo Haggie; p. 21 Northlight images, istock image ; p. 24, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences; p. 46, 47, 200 Lyn McLean; p. 68, Gandhi, O.P.G. and Furse, C.M., Electromagnetic Absorption in the Human Head and Neck for Cell Telephones at 835 and 1900 MHz, IEEE Transactions on Microwave Theory and Techniques, 44 (10), 1996, pp ; p. 82, p. 94 Vodafone Australia; p. 100 Gerd Oberfeld; p. 140 Alisdair Phillips; p. 145 aasha, istock image ; p. 249 DNY59, istock image ; p. 316 collection of Stanford University. Connecticut Environmental Month statement (p. 219) reproduced with kind permission of the City of Colwood. While every care has been taken to acknowledge copyright, the publisher tenders their apologies for any accidental infringement where copyright has proved untraceable. Where the attempt has been unsuccessful, the publisher welcomes information that would redress the situation. The author would like to thank John Lincoln for his technical assistance. Printed and bound in Australia by Griffin Press. Only wood from sustainable regrowth forests is used in the manufacture of paper found in this book. Typeset by J&M Typesetting in 10.25pt/13.6pt Sabon. National Library of Australia Cataloguing-in-Publication data McLean, Lyn. The force : living safely in a world of electromagnetic pollution. Rev. and updated ed (e-book.) (pbk) Previous ed. titled: Watt s the buzz. Published Includes bibliographical references and index. 1. Human beings Effect of radiation on. 2. Electromagnetism Health aspects. 3. Electromagnetism Physiological effect. 4. Electromagnetic waves
6 Contents Foreword vii The Basics 1. The Issue 3 2. Energy Fundamentals for Beginners 11 The Technology 3. Powerlines and Appliances Mobile Phones Base Stations and Broadcast Towers Computers 125 The Link to Health 7. Electromagnetic Radiation and the Body Electromagnetic Radiation and Health Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity The Controversy 223 Living Safely with Electromagnetic Radiation 11. Reducing Exposure to Electromagnetic Radiation Design and Planning The Way Forward 315 Appendix 327 Acknowledgements 341 Glossary 343 Notes 349 Index 373
8 Foreword My story began on Friday 28 April I went to lunch at an Indian restaurant with a work colleague, as I had many times before. In the middle of the meal I had a 45-minute grand mal brain seizure. I m afraid some of the patrons must have thought it was the food. An ambulance took me to the closest hospital. I was admitted to the intensive-care unit, where I spent the next eight days in a critical condition. On the first morning Dr James Saadi, my neurosurgeon, had ordered an MRI. When the films were ready he told me my tumour was operable, but they first had to get the severe brain swelling down. He added that my brain might herniate before they could do so. I did not know what herniate meant, but I knew it could kill me. (I learned later when a brain herniates, the pressure shoves the brain down into the stem. It is always fatal.) Yet somehow I also knew I was going to live and was being given a second life. I was in the hospital for a total of 11 days, leaving several days after having a 12-hour operation to remove the tumour. During the postsurgery follow-up, I asked Dr Saadi, How did I get this thing? He answered, Perhaps, electromagnetic fields. I was stunned. I had never heard of this as a cause, although I considered myself to be an informed person. My second life had begun. As an engineer with substantial scientific training, I went to the science literature to learn all I could. Almost immediately I found papers funded by industry and written by employees of the Electric Power Research Institute, along with other studies by electrical utility companies, which reported statistically significant risks of leukaemia and brain tumours resulting from exposure to electricity fields. It seemed clear to me that because industry has a large vested interest in not reporting this widely, there must be something to it. vii
9 viii The Force In September 1995, I attended my first meeting in bioelectromagnetics. I also wanted to learn all I could about my so-called benign brain tumour, a meningioma. I was stunned to learn that data was not collected on benign brain tumours; I was an engineer, and data is essential to our field. As a result I got a law passed in California in 2000 and a similar law passed federally in the United States in 2002 mandating data collection of all brain tumours, malignant and non-malignant. In 2002 I began to work full time in research and advocacy on the health effects resulting from exposure to electromagnetic fields. I have had success beyond my wildest imagination: although I have never been paid for my time, I am now invited to attend meetings on the issue worldwide. I have authored three epidemiology papers reporting risks from exposure to electromagnetic fields, and have three more in progress and many more between my ears. I have spoken at a conference on mobile phones and brain tumours, held in conjunction with a US Senate hearing, and worked with legislators toward passage of laws to regulate industry s callous behaviours and allow funding of independent scientific research. Our world is in complete denial that a problem exists, in spite of overwhelming scientific evidence. Why is there such denial? It is because the extensive evidence of the science domain has not been transferred to the public domain. The Force aims to bring that evidence to the public. It is a tour de force in which Lyn McLean covers an encyclopedic range of topics. It sets out our exposures to electricity, television, appliances, computers, and all things wireless, such as cordless phones, mobile phones, and wi-fi. In recent decades, the way in which we use electricity has fundamentally changed. Until the mid-1980s, electrical equipment used power continuously. Today, this equipment is designed to interrupt the flow of electrical power continually. First there were light dimmer switches. Then switching power suppliers were used to convert 50- or 60-hertz electricity to direct current in all electronic equipment. They turn the flow of current on and off many times per second, generating what the electrical utility industry calls dirty electricity. Working with Dr. Sam Milham at La Quinta Middle School in California, myself and others showed that dirty electricity is a possible universal human carcinogen. The impetus for the mad rush to all things wireless was the mobile phone. The Force exposes the ridiculousness of the safety standards used by governments throughout the world. Lyn describes how the Australian government allows for the testing of mobile phones 25 millimetres away the head and body, in contrast to how they are actually used. Yet the amount of mobile phone radiation absorbed by the head or body is 625
10 Foreword ix times greater when the phone is held one millimetre from such areas, as compared to 25 millimetres away. Even the mobile phone companies are aware of the danger of using their products immediately against the head or body they give warnings in the rarely read user manuals. For example, the BlackBerry Touch manual says, Use hands-free operation if it is available and keep the BlackBerry device at least 0.98 in. (25 millimetres) from your body (including the abdomen of pregnant women and the lower abdomen of teenagers [AKA testicles]) Yet when was the last time you saw an ad showing a mobile phone being used an inch from the head? I believe The Force s most important contribution is its discussion of the health effects on children and the marketing of mobile phones to them. It is widely known that children are at greater risk than adults when they are exposed to carcinogens, as their cells are dividing at far higher rates. In reading The Force, you will discover that governments around the world are issuing warnings about children s use of mobile phones. If you did not already know this, then it would be appropriate to ask the question, Why has the media ignored these global governmental warnings? If you are a parent, once you read The Force it will fundamentally change the rules you set for your children. I doubt you will ever allow them to sleep with their mobile phones beneath their pillows again. Lyn shows not just the reality of the telecommunication industry but also the pharmaceutical industry. She examines how scientists who find information the industry does not like are persecuted. This happened to the first modern scientist, Galileo Galilei, although he was only agreeing with Nicolaus Copernicus, who reported that the earth was not the centre of the universe. This contradicted the view of the Church, and Galileo was put on trial. Today, as The Force shows, the Corporation has replaced the Church. It took four centuries for the Church to admit it was wrong. How long will it take for the Corporation to admit fault? The Force is one of the most important books I have read in a long time. It opens with six personal stories of tragedies caused by the force, the ubiquitous electromagnetic fields to which we are exposed every day of our lives. These are stories of what can happen to any of us. Yet, as the subtitle suggests, the book gives guidance on how we can live safely in such a world. We can be in charge, but to do so we must act. And to act, we must be informed; this book will inform you. It is my hope that you, reader of The Force, will join with Lyn and myself to change our world for the better. Lloyd Morgan senior research fellow, Environmental Health Trust
12 The Basics
14 Chapter 1 The Issue We ve arranged a civilization in which most crucial elements profoundly depend on science and technology. Dr Carl Sagan It s invisible and inaudible: you can t smell, taste, or touch it. Electropollution is undetectable by the conscious senses at least to most people but its presence is everywhere. It is the unseen force that permeates the community, penetrating walls, buildings, and the body. There s a growing body of scientific evidence that links exposure to electropollution with a range of negative effects on our health. It has been compellingly linked to serious health problems such as leukaemia, brain tumours, Alzheimer s disease, allergies, stress, sleep problems, and depression. With industries constantly inventing and marketing new applications for a range of radiating devices, technology is racing way ahead of the research on safety. There are strong vested interests in this force being seen as harmless because industry influence permeates even the highest echelons of global research and policy-making. Currently, international standards protect against only a small range of effects, and only short-term ones at that. Effectively, there are no standards that protect against the long-term, continuous exposures that you and I receive in 3
15 4 The Force everyday life. No one knows the consequences of decades, let alone generations, of exposure. We are all affected and, should the indications of harm that science has already found be validated, all at risk. Electromagnetic pollution is part of our daily lives. It can take the form of electromagnetic fields (EMF), which come from powerlines and electrical appliances, or electromagnetic radiation (EMR), which comes from mobile phones and other communications technologies. There are now millions of kilometres of radiating powerlines, millions of antennas transmitting radiofrequency radiation, billions of mobile phones, and countless appliances and networks of satellites, all bathing the planet with unnatural radiation, affecting everyone and creating a vastly different energy environment. Odette s story Eight-year-old Andrew is settled comfortably on the lounge-room couch, leafing through the book delivered a week previously by Santa. He is marvelling at the huge armour-plated stegosaurus and the flesh-eating tyrannosaurus rex leering from the pages in front of him. His concentration is soon disturbed by the arrival of his 15-month-old, auburn-haired sister, Tammy, who bounds noisily into the room and launches herself at her brother, burbling as she tries to extract the book from his grip. Andrew diverts her attention to the sound of The Wiggles, emanating from the stereo on the other side of the room. He leans back to enjoy a few minutes of respite as, distracted, she toddles away and begins to gyrate to the tuneful strains of Nicky Nacky Nocky Noo. Typical though this scene might be of thousands of lounge rooms across the country, it s one that just a few years previously Andrew s parents, Odette and Tony, despaired of ever experiencing themselves. When Andrew was four, his family moved to a house in Sydney, which, after a substantial facelift, was to be their dream home. It was close to school, shops, and a park, had a yard to play in, and was conveniently located around the corner from a scenic part of one of Sydney s largest rivers. It was a new beginning, but not of the sort anticipated by Odette. Immediately after moving in, Odette began to experience enormous difficulty sleeping, although she constantly felt tired. She also experienced a sudden onset of depression for which she had no explanation. This was not just an occasional wave of despondency, but a souldestroying gloom that sapped her energy and interest. Odette also began to develop some worrying physical problems. First was a melanoma, which she had removed. Then came disappointment
16 The Issue 5 after disappointment as she and Tony tried unsuccessfully to extend their family. Despite having fallen pregnant with Andrew within four months of trying, Odette was just not able to conceive. Eventually, she and Tony hit the jackpot during a holiday cruise. Their joy, however, was short-lived, for not long afterwards they lost the baby and Odette became seriously ill with pneumonia. This was to be the first of three devastating miscarriages. Odette was suspected of having contracted Lupus, an autoimmune disease, since her pregnancy with Andrew. Odette was not the only one experiencing problems. Andrew, by now six, had been plagued with health problems all his young life. He was considerably underweight, had suffered countless colds and ear infections, and, after repeated bouts of tonsillitis, had had his tonsils and adenoids removed. He had come close to death with croup and recently developed the frustrating habit of wriggling down to the middle of his bed every night. Tony was not sick in the conventional sense of the word, but he did not experience an abundance of energy and wondered why his hair now stood on end every morning when he awoke. Odette began to suspect that the origin of the family s problems might be the house itself. Searching for answers, she rang me for information about electromagnetic radiation. In a tone of incredible frustration, she described the family s litany of health concerns. Do you think our problems might be related to the radiation that comes from the wiring? she asked. I thought that it was certainly possible. The energy from the power system is called electromagnetic fields and it s associated with a whole range of health problems, I explained. They include some of the concerns you ve mentioned, such as immune problems, tiredness, and depression, and perhaps even miscarriage and difficulties conceiving. There are even reports of children sleeping in high fields wriggling away from the wall the way that Andrew does. Odette decided to have the fields in her house measured and contacted my colleague, John Lincoln, an electrical engineer who had been measuring electromagnetic fields in homes and workplaces for 20 years. When John measured the house, he found extremely high fields, particularly in the bedrooms. Odette and Tony s bed was on the other side of the wall and just 50 centimetres or so away from the meter box, which was emitting a magnetic field of 88 milligauss (mg) when the off-peak hot-water system was operating at night. The average measurement in the room was around 70 mg, and the lowest reading was 12 mg.
17 6 The Force Because Andrew s bed was on the other side of the wall from the hotwater system, he was being exposed to a field of 12 mg during the entire night. These readings were well within the international guidelines, which allow people to be exposed to 2000 mg at home. However, they are far in excess of 4 mg, a level that is considered to be possibly carcinogenic. John also found high readings in other parts of the house. In the tiny kitchen there was the usual assortment of electrical appliances, all emitting fields. Around the digital clock on the electric oven there was a field of 20 mg, and the rear of the refrigerator measured 20 mg. In fact, wherever Odette stood in that room she was sure to be exposed to a field of no less than 20 mg. On John s advice, Odette and Tony implemented a number of strategies to reduce their exposure. They moved the old hot-water heater out of the laundry, away from Andrew s bed, and installed a solar hot-water system that they set to heat between 5.00 and 7.00 p.m. so it would not be operating while the family was sleeping. By installing an earth stake, they rectified the problem of an unearthed meter box (one whose wiring was not connected to the ground). Because it was too expensive to relocate the box, Odette and Tony moved their bed to another wall. Odette began to run the washing machine during the day rather than at night so it would not be generating fields through the wall against which Andrew was sleeping. She also unplugged the microwave oven when it was not in use to help reduce the ambient field in the kitchen. These measures considerably reduced the fields the family was exposed to, although the kitchen still remained something of a hot spot. Nevertheless, the family noticed the effects soon after. First, there was a period of adjustment, a week in which they felt unsettled and lacking in energy. After that, however, their health began to improve steadily. Tony found that his hair no longer stood on end each morning. Andrew s health and energy levels increased, and he no longer wriggled to the centre of the bed at night. To his parents relief, he gained weight, and family friends began to notice the change in his health. Odette conceived soon after and produced a healthy baby girl. Could the high fields in their house have accounted for Odette and her family s ill health? After all, Andrew had experienced health problems ever since he was a baby, before they moved to the house. When Andrew was born, his parents were living in a unit in an inner-western suburb of Sydney. Andrew spent long periods in a bouncinette against the external wall of the lounge room a location where Tony also spent many hours. Upon visiting the units, Odette and Tony
18 The Issue 7 noticed that the wall in question contained the power supply for the entire block of flats four meter boxes! So Andrew and Tony had also been exposed to high fields for long periods at their old address. While living there, Tony had experienced excruciating migraine headaches, which had disappeared some time after they moved. Odette s problems were alleviated by reducing her family s exposure to the electromagnetic fields from their meter box and household appliances. Yet sometimes high fields in the home can emanate, believe it or not, from the household plumbing. Dr Lee s story Dr Lee and his family moved into a beautiful brick home in Sydney s Lane Cove. After living there for six months, they learned the house had a history of serious illness that had touched all of the last four families who had occupied it. Two former residents, a mother and a young child, had died from leukaemia. Another child had developed leukaemia while living there but had since moved away, so her fate was unknown to the Lees. A father and a third child had each developed glioma (a type of brain tumour) while living in the house. John found high fields connected with the wiring in the house. First, the wiring was earthed to the water pipes, and they were conducting an extremely high field through the house he measured 538 mg at the water meter. This meant that anyone spending time in parts of the house adjacent to the pipes working, studying, or sleeping was being exposed. The pipes ran not only downstairs, but under the upstairs bedroom and up the wall into the adjacent bathroom, so that a person sleeping next to the bathroom wall would have been exposed throughout the night. In addition to the water pipes, the wiring itself was generating high fields. Power entered the house near the upstairs bedroom and ran across the ceiling and down the wall to the meter box, which was on the outside of a bedroom wall downstairs. On the other side of the wall, the field from the meter box measured 45 mg not a good location for a bed. Dr Lee and his family had, fortuitously, arranged their furniture so that their beds were not exposed to the high fields of the meter box or the water pipes. Nevertheless, John measured fields of 18 mg at one bed, 8.8 to 15 mg at another, and 5.7 mg at a third. While these fields were already too high for comfort, it is likely that they increased at night when the off-peak electric hot-water system cut in, using substantially more power.
19 8 The Force To reduce his family s risk of developing the problems experienced by former occupants, Dr Lee organised an electrician to install an earth stake and a plumber to insert a plastic section in the water pipe so that it was no longer conductive. Not only did this stop the fields in the pipes, but it meant that the currents travelling into and out of the house through the wiring were now balanced, and so the wiring emitted lower fields. This was a simple but effective solution. Murray and Susan s story Naturally, homes situated close to high-voltage powerlines are particularly exposed to electromagnetic fields. Murray and his wife Susan wanted to know the field levels at a property they were interested in buying. It was a beautiful home with a delightful aspect, situated on a bushy peninsula that jutted into a particularly scenic part of Sydney s Georges River. However, there was a potential problem: a high-voltage powerline ran right through the property before eventually spanning the river. In the backyard, the space inside one of its pylons had even been utilised to accommodate the clothesline! The powerline ran along the entire side of the house, about ten metres away from all of the bedrooms. Inside the house, in the rooms adjacent to the powerline, John measured magnetic fields of between 8.4 and 10 mg during the day. On the side of the house furthest from the powerlines, he measured an average of 5 mg. These fields were likely to be very much higher during the evening, when the line was conducting more current to feed the demand for heating and appliances, and off-peak hot-water heating later in the evening. John provided the couple with the readings and explained the risks that had been identified with fields at these levels. Murray and Susan still went ahead with the purchase and moved in with their young children. John later learned in a conversation with the estate agent that the son of the previous owner had died of leukaemia. Kate s story Sometimes problems are caused by electric fields, which are emitted by electrical equipment and wiring. Kate, a secretary, rang me, desperate to find a solution to a string of difficulties she d been battling for several years. First, she had severe dermatitis on her hands, which had persisted with barely a reprieve for over three years and made performing even simple tasks painfully difficult. Second, she was plagued by incredible tiredness, which made functioning after 6.00 p.m. almost impossible to the point where she was often unable to string coherent sentences
20 The Issue 9 together. Yet even though she was constantly tired, Kate had difficulty sleeping, and the quality of her sleep was poor. Third, Kate had been experiencing pain when she used her office computer. By the time she spoke to me, Kate s difficulties while working at the computer had increased to the point where they had become intolerable. She now experienced a burning sensation when using the mouse. Moreover, the sensation travelled up her arm and persisted overnight. It was only alleviated by keeping away from the computer for days on end which was quite difficult, given that her job required regular computer use. She also began to develop pain behind her right eye, and the condition of her hands deteriorated to the point where they had constant open cuts that bled easily upon impact with just about anything. When John visited Kate s workplace, he found extremely high electric fields. The highest were from the keyboard, which measured up to 300 volts per metre (V/m) in comparison, most keyboards John had measured were about 5 V/m. Although 300 V/m was substantially smaller than the 5000 V/m allowed by international guidelines, it was far above the 10 to 40 V/m that some studies have associated with leukaemia. High electric fields were also coming from wiring that ran under the floor beneath Kate s workstation, and inside the wall at the rear of her desk. In this case, the solution was simple. With the cooperation of Kate s employer, John moved the computer to an alternative location and found that the fields immediately dropped from 300 to just 5 V/m. Within a week, Kate s dermatitis had cleared and her tiredness greatly reduced. Ed s story Not all health problems are caused by the electromagnetic fields from the power system; electromagnetic radiation from mobile phones can often contribute to such problems, too. Ed was a successful businessman who often conducted his work from overseas locations such as Singapore and Paris. Needless to say, his mobile phone use was extremely heavy: he made calls that lasted up to an hour, and ran up bills of around AU$1000 per month. He invariably held the phone in his left hand so that he was free to work with his right. Often during calls he experienced a sensation of heat about two or three centimetres inside his head, near where he held the handset, and this feeling often persisted for up to 20 minutes. In 1997, Ed was diagnosed with a Merkel Cell tumour on the left side of his head, at the location where the aerial of his phone had touched his scalp. Merkel Cell tumours usually start in the lungs and then spread to other parts of the body. However, there was no indication of a tumour
21 10 The Force in Ed s lungs something had caused the tumour to appear in his head. Ed had the tumour surgically removed, but the following year he was diagnosed with a tumour in the left parotid gland, located on his neck and shoulder just below the ear directly and precisely adjacent to the position of the mouthpiece of his mobile phone. This was a very aggressive tumour that required radiotherapy and radical surgery, which removed a sizeable chunk of the left side of his neck and shoulder. Ed was told he had just two more years to live. Thankfully, Ed outlived the forecast time limit, but the scars remained with him: the physical and emotional legacy of his romance with technology. For Ed, there was no doubt that his tumours were caused by the microwave radiation from his mobile phone. The match between the position of his mobile phone and the location of the tumours was too perfect to be pure chance. And so it often is. The connection between high levels of electromagnetic exposure and health problems is just too frequent, too compelling, to be mere coincidence. The names of the individuals in these stories have been changed, but their experiences are true and they are not isolated incidents. Time and again, John, myself, and others who work in this area find that people living or working near high fields develop health problems. In our experience, they are exhausted and unwell, sometimes greatly so, and often immensely frustrated at the difficulties they ve had in finding a solution to their problems. Fortunately, in our experience, many of their problems can be solved by reducing their exposure. Individually, none of us can change the global picture on EMR, but every one of us has a choice about how much exposure to accept in our own lives. In Chapters 3 to 6, you will discover what fields are generated by equipment such as powerlines, appliances, mobile phones, base stations, broadcast towers, and computers. In Chapters 7 to 10 you will read about how they have been linked to a range of serious health conditions, including leukaemia, brain tumours, Alzheimer s disease, allergies, and depression. In Chapters 11 to 12, you can read about simple measures you can take to reduce your exposure, both in the home and in the workplace, and ways to minimise exposure in new buildings through design and planning. The force is already with you. The questions are, what are the risks and how can you protect yourself, your family, and your employees? Read on to find out.