Below is my latest communication (March 22) with Dr. Bruce Armstrong, head of the so-called Expert Panel that directed the investigation at the ABC studios at Toowong Qld. After all this time it is a sad fact that we still do not know the ELF magnetic field exposures for the women who worked in the building. It is also an indictment on the Expert Panel that for all their excellent work they ‘dropped the ball’ when it came to investigating the ELF question. As for ELF at Toowong it remains an unknown despite what the Expert Panel would like us to believe. Justice for the women involved has not been done.
Note: Reference to Tyco Industries ( Tyco Electronics Energy Division) in the below message is to another sick building near Sydney where ill health is being put down to employee’s exposure to excessive ELF magnetic fields. A legal team has taken up the case on behalf of the workers. Dr. Armstrong is aware of the case.
Dear Dr. Armstrong
It is good to see that the ARPANSA report of Ken Karipidis’ EMF measurements of the Toowong site has been put up on the ABC web site. Your belief that the report speaks for itself is ill founded, however. What the report doesn’t say speaks volumes.
The survey, conducted over a year after it was recommended by Dr. Benke, consisted simply of a two hour walk through of the building with spot measurements taken at various areas. Three ABC volunteers wore data loggers for 4 hours as they went thought their daily activities. Note where it is stated in the ARPANSA report, ” It is unknown how representative their work patterns (volunteers) were of the women suffering health effects” (page 2). Wouldn’t it have been better to try and replicate, as far as possible, all of the affected women’s work pattens?
Nothing is mentioned in the ARPANSA report about the request stated in the April 2005 EMC report to specifically measure the fields next to a cable tray near Jo-Anne Youngleson’s desk as those fields would have been ELF, not RF. It is strange that EMC technologies neglected to do this in 2005 and another 20 months had to pass before ELF in the building was finally measured. I am at a loss to try and figure out why there was such a lengthly delay considering the urgency of giving ABC staff some answers.
In fact nothing is clearly stated in the ARPANSA report about the specific areas where the women worked. I would have thought that the survey would have concentrated on the work desks of the women who developed breast cancer and individual exposure levels given for each desk, for each woman with their identity kept confidential. A data logger placed on Jo-Anne’s desk would have been advisable considering the earlier request.
Looking at the work desk photos on page 7 it appears that most of the equipment was off when the work desks were photographed and the desks are all neat and tidy with nothing out of place. Does this mean that the equipment was off during the measurements? Was there any attempt to replicate the woman’s daily electrical work environment? It does not appear to be so from what is in the report. Why were data loggers not placed on the woman’s desks, as mentioned by John Lincoln in Australian Story?
I also find the measurements remarkably low, given all that electrical equipment as seen in Australian Story.
Considering the importance of a thorough investigation to rule out ELF I would have thought a far better survey of the ELF magnetic fields should have been conducted that specifically focussed on the areas where the women worked with both spot and data logged measurements. Unfortunely the hallmark of good science – replication – in this case of the ARPANSA survey will never be done because it has been decided by your panel, that in light of the ARPANSA ELF report, there is no need to make further measurements at the Toowong studios. Of course now that much of the equipment has apparently been removed you are probably right.
Ken Karipides’ comparison with levels common in residences and probably workplaces is meaningless. Average exposures in buildings fail to pick up the all important individual excessive exposure situations. For example, in a 2002 published Australian study of the home ELF exposures of a group of 49 patients with CFS, 14 subjects were found to have prolonged ELF magnetic field exposures averaging 7.1 mG from sources such as meter box by the bedhead, electric blanket use, heated water beds, ground currents on water pipes, etc. These were exposures predominantly during the night and all very localized. However when the usual method of averaging home exposures was applied the average overall home exposure dropped to below 1 mG. The same situation applies to workplaces. I’m sure that if the overall average exposure levels at Tyco Industries was calculated all would appear okay, but as we know this is not the case.
It is unfortunate that we will now never know the actual ELF magnetic field exposures for the affected women who worked at Toowong. As for the ARPANSA report, if it speaks anything it is saying a job poorly done.
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