Ear-bashing: feeling the heat in a city that forever beeps (The Sydney Morning Herald)
From Lyn McLean, EMR Australia PL
The Sydney Morning Herald
Ear-bashing: feeling the heat in a city that forever beeps
September 3, 2011
MARTIN PLACE has plenty; George Street pulses from moderate to high; the QVB is surprisingly low, but parts of Market Street are swimming in it. It’s radiofrequency radiation, and according to consumer advocate Lyn McLean, “we are essentially living in a sea of it”.
Ms McLean, who advises federal and local government on “electropollution” and runs her own company, EMR Australia, recently took Fairfax on a tour of the city centre, together with a radiofrequency detector that measures levels of radiofrequency radiation.
“Because of the proliferation of mobile phone technology, cordless phones and wireless networks, most people are continuously exposed to low-level radiofrequency radiation,” Ms McLean said.
Chronic background exposure, like that routinely experienced by city workers, was thought to be harmless as it was below the limits set by regulatory agencies, including the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency. In May, however, the World Health Organisation’s International Agency for Research on Cancer issued a statement saying radiofrequency radiation was “possibly carcinogenic”, classifying mobile phones as a category 2B carcinogen, similar to the pesticide DDT and engine exhaust.
Ms McLean said the agency’s statement was important because it underscored what she regarded as the deficiencies of the standards governing RF exposure. “Mobile phones currently comply with the safety standards, but if mobile phones are possibly carcinogenic, what does that say about the standards? she said. ”The standards only protect against short-term, high-intensity exposure, enough, for example, to heat the body by one degree Celsius.”
The Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association regards the exposure standards as sufficient.
In the CBD, low-level RF radiation is continuously emitted from a range of sources. Even standing on the Town Hall steps, Ms McLean’s Acoustimeter RF detection device registered 1000 microwatts per square metre. This was well below the Australian agency’s uppermost limits for mobile phones and wi-fi usage, which are between 4.5 to 10 watts (10 million microwatts) per square metre. But as Ms McLean pointed out, “This device shows ambient levels – what you’re exposed to on top of your own mobile phone or wi-fi usage.”
Walking south on George Street, the level jumped to 2500 outside Woolworths then up 5000 outside the police station and Energy Australia. Heading north, through the QVB, it dropped to 25 to 50, but leapt to 25,000 at the corner of Market and Kent streets. The readings in Martin Place varied from 5000 to 10,000.
The highest levels Ms McLean sees are in people’s homes. “Cordless phones can be the worst. If you have it by your bed you’re basically being irradiated the entire night. Same goes for baby monitors.”Leave a reply →