While the powerline health controversy continues to bubble away in New Zealand with a major TV documentary now in the making, a similar issue is now taking hold in Canada’s province of Newfoundland (Below). As with New Zealand, the ICNIRP spin doctors will be having meetings with the relevant Canadian authorities spinning their web of lies to support the indefensible – ICNIRP.
The issue may soon re-surface in Australia with the Australian Radiation Protection & Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) soon to release a new draft power line standard that still allows ICNIRP’s 1000 milliGauss (mG) level for families despite the fact that a mere 4 mG doubles the risk of childhood leukaemia. As a member of the ARPANSA powerline “consultative” committee I have seen first hand how the agency’s experts squirm out of the way to avoid consideration of the low level effects issue in favor of high level effects. And they dare call it science.
Recent New Zealand Public “EMF Health Forums”, organised by Transpower NZ to quell public concerns over possible health effects from a proposed 400 kV transmission line, were illustrative of how the industry and its Brought-and-Paid-for-Independent-Experts (BPIEs) misrepresent the literature. They were embarrassingly caught out publicly mis-representing, mis-quoting, and basically lying in order to support the ICNIRP limits. The public forums turned out to be a public relations disaster for Transpower to the extent that Transpower has refused to release the promised video /DVD of the forums. Their excuse being because of poor quality sound. This is perhaps true for what I heard in the forum I attended was really poor quality!
However, and this is an important point, whenever the BPIEs privately meet with the relevant government representatives, be it in New Zealand, Australia, Canada, or elsewhere, their “well packaged web of lies” goes unchallenged out of ignorance of the issues, and uncritically accepted as impartial expert advice. And that is how ICNIRP renews itself as THE international experts.
Or as Dresden James once said:
“A truth’s initial commotion is directly proportional to how deeply the lie was believed. It wasn’t the world being round that agitated people, but that the world wasn’t flat. When a well packaged web of lies has been sold gradually to the masses over generations, the truth will seem utterly preposterous and its speaker a raving lunatic”.
Norris Arm resident campaigning for independent study of link between transmission lines and cancer
Sunday, January 02, 2005
By Clare-Marie Gosse
Margaret Higgins has cancer. It started in her breast and spread, over a four-year period, to her liver, lungs, bones and brain.
She seems to be somewhat resigned to her condition, but her husband, Gerald, isn’t.
After extensive research, he came to the conclusion that electromagnetic fields from power lines and transformers could be responsible.
Higgins discovered that out of the 62 transformers in Norris Arm, there were incidents of cancer in homes located close to 60. He and his wife lived in a small bungalow, overshadowed by heavy power lines.
His findings led him on a personal crusade. Ultimately, he would like to see a government-funded study — independent of the power company — carried out in rural Newfoundland and Labrador to assess the possible link between cancer and transformers.
Over the last few years, Higgins has received support from thousands of victims of cancer across the province, as well as noted experts throughout the country.
To support Higgins, Norris Arm Mayor Fred Budgell mailed 150 letters to towns in the province, asking for stories of cancer that could be related to transformers. An overwhelming 90 towns responded.
Higgins has since spoken with well over 4,000 cancer patients and in April, 2004 he sent a petition signed by Norris Arm residents to then-Health minister Elizabeth Marshall requesting the independent study.
In May 2000, just after his wife had her breast removed, Higgins went for a drive around Norris Arm.
“I was right depressed,” he tells The Independent. “I went for a drive, wondering what was causing so much cancer in this community. “I went from one transformer to another and I started seeing the connections. I had goose bumps as big as eggs. I thought the government would be so happy to find out there’s something causing cancer.”
His realizations, however, weren’t as revolutionary as he thought. After doing some research, he discovered concerns about the potential effects of exposure to electromagnetic fields had been a worldwide issue since a 1979 study by Dr. Nancy Wertheimer and Ed Leeper of the University of North Carolina. Coincidently, Wertheimer’s suspicions were raised in exactly the same way as Higgins. She was searching for an explanation into high levels of childhood leukemia within an area of Denver, and came across a transformer directly behind a victim’s house.
Wertheimer’s subsequent study found that children who had died from cancer were two to three times more likely to have lived within 40 metres of a high-current power line. Numerous international studies have been conducted since, showing a similar connection to adult cancer.
Despite evidence suggesting a relationship between electromagnetic fields and childhood leukemia — a concern recognized by the World Health Organization — results haven’t been consistent or conclusive to promote much response from governments.
An expert in the field, Magda Havas, fully supports Higgins in his request for an independent survey. As an associate professor in environmental resource studies at Ontario’s Trent University, Havas has conducted extensive research into electromagnetic fields. She says rural Newfoundland and Labrador would be an ideal location for a study because of the many small communities made up of long-term residents.
“If it’s going to show anywhere, that’s where it’s going to show up,” she says.
Higgins first contacted Havas to ask her if his suspicions surrounding electromagnetic fields were founded. “He wanted to find out if he was on the right track,” Havas told The Independent. “Could there be a relationship between cancer and living close to power lines and transformers? And I said ‘You’re damn right there can, that’s what research is showing’ and we’ve been in touch ever since.”
Although Sweden and America have some basic safety limits in place relating to electromagnetic field exposure, Health Canada has no current guidelines. A spokesman for Health Canada tells The Independent there isn’t enough scientific evidence “at this point in time … to indicate that there’s a clear link between power lines and any illnesses of any kind.
“I don’t want to be too alarmist,” says Robert Bradley, director of Health Canada’s consumer and clinical radiation protection bureau, “but, for example, if you take a knife and stab yourself through the heart, you know the consequences, but if you held a knife in front of somebody, what can be a consequence?”
He says that because of the wide range of household appliances that produce electromagnetic fields, such as televisions and microwaves, it would be difficult and time consuming to conduct an accurate study.
Although Health Canada has no current plans to install any guidelines around electromagnetic fields, Bradley says the issue is under investigation.
“The matter is not closed, there’s a lot of research ongoing. The international EMF (electromagnetic field) Project, which is a project organized by the World Health Organization, has been ongoing now for the better part of eight years. I think it’s drawing to a close — there should be a report out within the next couple of years.” Havas is currently researching other effects of electromagnetic fields, and in October, attended a World Health Organization meeting in Prague, formed to address the issue of electrical hypersensitivity, which is a disability recognized by the government. Sufferers experience a wide range of symptoms from skin rashes to headaches and lethargy when exposed to high levels of electromagnetic energy. Havas has discovered that the use of electrical filters, plugged into outlets, can drastically reduce the problem, as well as aiding people suffering from multiple sclerosis and diabetes. She says she, and other people in her field can “barely believe the results.”
Although Newfoundland Power moved the power lines away from Higgins’ house in 2002, he’s still not satisfied. He says he won’t be until the dangers of electromagnetic fields and their relation to cancer are recognized. “I’m not going to say I can save my wife, because I can’t save my wife … but I know in my heart and soul that I’m right.”
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