From Stewart Fist (with my comments):
A high-rating Australian commercial network has tonight, run a segment of its major prime-time current affairs program which raises the question of mobile phone safety.
The program is Today Tonight – shown at 7.30 pm on Channel 7 Monday 28 April 2008
The main interview was with Dr Bruce Armstrong, who is currently the Professor of Public Health at Sydney University. The program said he is running the “Australian end of a 13 country World Health organisation research program into the safety of mobile phones.”
[Don: Dr. Armstrong was also the head of the ABC Toowong breast cancer cluster expert panel – and who had arbitrarily dismissed a possible ELF/EMF connection with the disease.]
He is the main medical spokesman on cancer in Australia, and he has been very prominent over many years as being dismissive of any possibility that mobile phones could cause problems.
At one time he was also at the head of the Australian Cancer Council, and he is member of the National Health & Medical Research Council (Australia’s government funding body)
This is an accurate transcript of Armstrong’s statements:
BA “I would not want to be a heavy user of a mobile phone.”
BA “I think the evidence that has accumulated is pointing towards an effect of mobile phones on tumours.”
BA. “People might be shocked to hear that the evidence does seem to be coming more strongly in support of harmful effects.”
Q. So what sort of harm are you talking about ?
BA “By harm, I mean production of brain tumours, acoustic nerve tumours, and possibly Parotid gland tumours – because some of these tumours are certainly fatal.
VAGUE STATEMENT HERE ABOUT ACCUMULATING RESEARCH EVIDENCE
BA ” … What was found .. there was evidence of a two-fold increase in risk of tumour.
Q. Do you think we should have waited ?[ (presumably) before Australia allowed phones to proliferate]
BA. I think the horse was well and truly out of the gate and off into the forest before people even started to think.
There was also a segment in here about testing four purchased phones to see whether they conformed to the SAR standard of 2 watts per kilogram when up against the body, using a hands-free (Bluetooth or earphone extension) as distinct from using the phone against the side of the head.
The testing organisation was EMC Technologies
The EMC spokesperson was Chris Zombolas
The standard SAR is supposedly limited to 2 watts/kg and the phones were 3 Gs.
They tested the phones in contact within a Phantom (Jell) cell at 1800 and 2100 MHz
1. The cheapest they could find – Sagem and Vodafone 226: OK OK (both below 2)
2 Sony Ericsson W910I : 2.14w/kg: OK
3. Telstra HTV and Touchphone 850: 2.46 2.92
4. Nokia E65: 3.35 5.84
So 3 of the 4 exceeded the limit, and the Nokia at 2100MHz, according to these measurement is nearly 3-times the limit against the side of the body.
[Don: Stewart also was wary about these conclusions – I would add that using a ‘phantom jell’ to approximate the human brain is a totally inaccurate representation of the human brain – unless you happen to have a head filled with jello! Such crude measurements cannot pick up reflections and hot-spots in brain structures. And all this is only for SAR thermal effects. It is very crude and this is the usual method the manufacturers use to test phone compliance]
Zombolas claimed that if you read the fine print, it says that they fall within the standard only when the phone is between 1.5 and 2 cms away from the body.
[Don: The main point of the testing was to show that when using the Blue Tooth earpiece with the phone placed in a pocket next to the body, the SAR limits can be exceeded depending on how the phone is placed. According to Zombolas, the phones are designed to radiate most of the energy away from the body, or head. However if the phone is placed in a pocket with the faceplate pointing away from the body most of the radiation is absorbed – and at levels that can exceed the compliance limits.]
There was a short interview with Colin Roy from ARPANSA _ the government radiation testing lab, who said he was surprised and would look into it.
Then a piece with Mr Althaus of the Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association (AMTA) who said that this was no big deal since “The standards have a 50-fold safety margin”.
[Don: Althouse also disagreed with Armstrong and stated that the scientific evidence indicated that mobile phones were safe.]
Stewart Fist, writer, columnist, film-maker
70 Middle Harbour Rd, LINDFIELD
NSW 2070 Australia