* Acute mobile phone operation affects neural function in humans - Hydro lines increase cancer risk: U.S. study (10/10/02)

Tramès per Klaus Rudolph (Citizens' Initiative Omega)

This study will be published in October in  the "Journal of Clinical Neurophysiology"

Acute mobile phone operation affects neural function in humans

Croft R, Chandler J, Burgess A, Barry R, Williams J, Clarke A. 
Brain and Behaviour Research Institute, University of Wollongong, Northfields
Ave., 2522, Wollongong, Australia

Mobile phones (MP) are used extensively and yet little is known about the effects they may have on human physiology. There have been conflicting reports regarding the relation between MP use and the electroencephalogram (EEG). The present study suggests that this conflict may be due to methodological differences such as exposure durations, and tests whether exposure to an active MP affects EEG as a function of time.METHODS: Twenty-four subjects participated in a single-blind fully counterbalanced cross-over design, where both resting EEG and phase-locked neural responses to auditory stimuli were measured while a MP was either operating or turned off. RESULTS: MP exposure altered resting EEG, decreasing 1-4Hz activity (right hemisphere sites), and increasing 8-12Hz activity as a function of exposure duration (midline posterior sites). MP exposure also altered early phase-locked neural responses, attenuating the normal response decrement over time in the 4-8Hz band, decreasing the response in the 1230Hz band globally and as a function of time, and increasing midline frontal and lateral posterior responses in the 30-45Hz band.

Active MPs affect neural function in humans and do so as a function of exposure duration. The temporal nature of this effect may contribute to the lack of consistent results reported in the literature.
PMID: 12350439 [PubMed - in process]

Hydro lines increase cancer risk: U.S. study

Appliances also a hazard: Canadian experts say evidence is still inconclusive

Tom Arnold
National Post, with files from news services

Monday, October 07, 2002
Overhead power lines and household electrical appliances very likely increase the risk of developing cancer, according to preliminary findings from an eight-year study into the health effects of electromagnetic fields.

The California study, considered the largest project examining the effects of electromagnetic fields (EMFs) on health, suggests hundreds of thousands of people, particularly children, are at risk from life-threatening illnesses linked to the emissions. Pregnant women are also at greater risk of miscarriage.

The latest findings were commissioned by the California Public Utilities Commission, which is expected to publish the full report within several months. Scientists also reviewed a large number of previous studies from around the world and carried out new research in the San Francisco area.

The researchers said their findings show EMFs increase the risks of life-threatening illnesses, including childhood leukemia, adult brain cancer and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a degenerative disease that attacks nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord.

"People have a right to be warned, but whether a major effort to reduce EMFs is appropriate must still be decided," said Vincent DelPizzo, a senior member of the research team from the California Department of Health Services.

Fergal Nolan, president of the Radiation Safety Institute of Canada, a national independent safety group, said: "So far, the information that's been available says the evidence is inconclusive.

"Assertions have come out and have said EMFs have been causing cancers, but no reliable scientific evidence has come out to date to support that."

"This may tip the balance, I don't know yet," said Tony Muc, president and chief physicist with Canadian-based Radiation Health and Safety Consulting.

The findings could be "as significant as conclusions about smoking and lung cancer," he said. "Now the evidence is strong [on tobacco-related cancer] despite the early debates decades ago whether or not smoking was harmful."

However, Mr. Muc, who has studied the issue for 30 years, said: "I am in the camp that would still say, pending a further look at this particular study, that it remains inconclusive." Mr. Muc taught non-ionizing radiation with an emphasis on environmental health and safety issues at the University of Toronto for more than 20 years.

Neither specialist would comment on the specific findings because they have not reviewed the research and its methodology.

"If the study comes out and shows conclusively that EMF exposure from power lines and home appliances, your ovens and clothing irons and kettles, cause cancer, well, that is a very serious matter," Mr. Nolan said. "Certainly, it would be significant."  "All you have to do is look out the window and see there are power lines everywhere," he added. "If one is exposed to EMF from all kinds of sources in common use, that is obviously a serious matter. It would become a public health issue."

Regardless of conflicting findings, governments, communities and individuals across the country have taken some precautions. In some cities, power lines running along or over highways and residential areas now are carried by much higher poles. A more costly option, removing them from the air and placing them underground, has been considered but the option is very costly.

"There appears to be a lot of concern in the public and the workplace about this, to the extent when a power line or a cellphone tower are proposed near neighbourhoods [people don't want them there]," Mr. Nolan said.

In 1994, a major study involving 223,000 men who worked at electric utilities in Ontario, Quebec and France linked exposure to magnetic fields to elevated rates of leukemia. It reviewed the cancer experience of workers employed at Ontario Hydro, Hydro-Quebec and Electricité de France from 1970 to 1989. Over the study period, the men developed 4,151 cases of cancer, of which 140 were leukemia and 108 were brain cancers.

It found those exposed to above-average magnetic fields had leukemia rates as much as three times the level of those exposed to weaker fields. It also found the incidence of brain cancer among workers exposed to the most intense magnetic fields was 12 times that of those exposed to weaker fields, but the result was considered inconclusive because of the small number of cases involved.

The latest findings could prompt a string of lawsuits against power companies or domestic appliance manufacturers.

In Britain, Ray and Denise Studholme believe their son Simon would still be alive if he had not been subjected to a strong electromagnetic field in his bedroom.  The boy slept in a room where his head was less than one metre from an electricity meter and a burglar alarm in a hall cupboard. According to the family, tests after their son's death revealed the two appliances gave off an EMF more than six times the recommended safe limit. Simon was diagnosed with leukemia in November, 1990. He died in September, 1992, aged 13.

The family hopes to use the study's findings to launch a case against their electricity supplier. "If I had known about the electromagnetic fields, Simon would not have been sleeping there," Mr. Studholme said. "Within six months of moving here, he used to get up in the morning complaining of headaches and feeling light-headed."


Informant: Robert Riedlinger

Citizens' Initiative Omega
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