WHY TO APPLY THE PRECAUTIONARY PRINCIPLE AGAINST MOBILE PHONE BASE STATIONS. R. Santini, National Institute of Applied Sciences (INSA) – Bâtiment Louis Pasteur – 69621 Villeurbanne (France).
Several arguments can be advanced for applying immediately the precautionary principle to counter the biological effects of cellular phone base stations.
1. Microwave bio effects are known and referenced for more than 40 years: Chronic exposure to microwaves is responsible for the appearance of the microwave syndrome, also called radio frequency sickness, which has been described since the 1960’s by researches of Eastern countries. It is characterized by – a debility syndrome (fatigue, irritability, headaches, …) – a cardiovascular dysfunction syndrome (bradycardia, tachycardia, …) – a brain dysfunction syndrome (insomnia, concentration difficulties, …).
2. Exposure to a mobile cellular telephone generates biological effects: Studies give evidence to a relation ship between exposure (number and duration of phone calls) and the increase in complaints such as headaches, fatigue, feeling of warmth on the ear, feeling of discomfort, … [1, 2], disturbances to the permeability of the blood-brain barrier .
3. Biological effects are reported by people living in the vicinity of mobile phone base stations: Two studies at least [4, 5] have shown that people living in the vicinity of cellular phone base stations are suffering of microwave syndrome pathologies in relation with their age, their sex and the level of their exposure to microwave power density.
4. Some countries have adopted low exposure limits for their population: In place of 450 and 900 microWatts/cm2 (41 and 58 Volts/m) allowed in USA and in Europe for the level of people exposition to 900 and 1800 megahertz, Italy adopt 10 microWatts/cm2 (6.1 Volts/m), Luxembourg 3 Volts/m and in Austria the Salzburg resolution recommends 0.6 Volts/m.
5. Sensitivity to microwaves is not the same for all: In 1995 the National Institute of Research and Safety (INRS) concluded after a French Air Force epidemiological study: “These exists indisputably an individual sensitivity to the effects of radio frequencies. Undergoing the same exposure, certain individuals can present with clinical disturbances and others not.” . It is equally apparent that children are more vulnerable that adults, due to their developing nervous system and a more intense absorption of electromagnetic energy by their tissues. According to the International Radiation Protection Association (IRPA) this individual sensitivity to radio frequencies would have a genetic basis.
6. Extremely low frequencies (ELF) are present in the mobile telephone signal: It is well known that ELF, like microwaves, have also biological effects at very low values (0.2 to 0.4 microTesla for the ELF magnetic field), values which are found in the mobile telephone signal. Conclusion: With regard to the preceding, it is advisable from now on to apply the precautionary principle to counter the biological effects of mobile phone base stations. In accordance with the precautionary principle, base stations will not be sited at less than 300 meters from populated places. Antennas will be carefully orientated so that the principal high frequency radiation lobe is not directed toward places (schools, hospitals, senior citizen centres, …) with vulnerable people. This prudent avoidance measure must be applied equally to residential areas reached by microwave beams since certain of occupants can be “electro sensitive”. Regular measurement of high frequency power densities must be made at different times of day and various times of the year. In base station environments, people living in the vicinity should not be exposed to a microwave power density above 0.1 microWatts/cm2 (0.6 Volts/m).
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