14 January  2001  Home
FEB - The Swedish Association for the ElectroSensitive

Copyright Leif Sodergren 2001
Göteborg 1 Dec 2000
A British government expert panel recently recommended that children should refrain from using mobile telephones. In December this year, there will be leaflets warning mobile phone buyers about the uncertainty over mobile phone’s potential health risks. This might prove a very sound measure. But why is it that the Swedish or the Finnish governments, usually progressive and eager to prohibit harmful substances, have said nothing about the possible dangers of microwaves and mobile phones? Why so quiet on the northern front? The answer is simple. The British health warnings could simply not have been issued in Nokia and Ericsson country. Stockholm is becoming the wireless capital of the world and American companies are establishing a foothold there. The new generation mobile phones are here and three times as many antennas as there are today, are about to be built. It is therefore politically impossible to say anything that remotely threatens the mobile phone industry, the golden goose that brings so much prosperity to industry and government. But mobile phones might one day become a BSE crisis. 

The Swedish Council for Work Life Research is a central government agency for the long-term planning and funding of research and development. In 1997 it was asked by the government to make an inventory of EMF -related health risks. The final report was presented November 30, 2000. Two of the three individuals who prepared this report(Lena Hillert and Ulf Bergqvist) have industry connections. They are ”scientific consultants” to Swedish Telecom mobile phone operator, Telia and therefore hardly unbiased. 

The report presented on the website www.ralf.se gives mobile phones a clean bill of health. The report also incorrectly claims that the general public is not particularly worried about health risks from mobile phones. Some smaller groups however, the report states, are concerned about EMF health risks. The following wording is interesting ”…this concern can itself be a health problem and should be dealt with”. This sounds very ominous indeed and is reminiscent of Soviet style thought management. Do they mean that everyone concerned about EMF health problems, including the authors of the British government report recommending caution with the use of mobile phones, are themselves a health problem and should be ”dealt with”? That kind of wording one might find in industry lobby group memos, not in a report from a government agency. Compared to the British report, this is a farce.

The government has been told that individuals that are not so heavily biased should remake the report. The government has yet to react. If they do not use unbiased advice, mobile phones will one day become their BSE(mad cow) crisis. 

We regard ourselves as very sophisticated individuals, but biologically we are as primitive as Stone Age man is. We have no built-in protection against environmental toxins or microwaves. One day when the party is over and we soberly look back at this period, we might wonder how entire populations allowed themselves to be continually exposed to low levels of microwaves. We might regret not having worried more about the ”microwave sickness” that Soviet scientists identified decades before. We might regret not having heeded warnings from the likes of Dr. John Holt of Australia when he pointed out that mobile phone frequencies double the amount of histamines and thus cause asthma and allergies. We might also regret having left research in the hands of the mobile phone industry. How likely were they to sponsor research that would threaten their existence?

Industry is powerful enough to influence the Finnish and Swedish governments and also the EU to tone down the dangers from mobile phones and base stations. This means that we will simply have to sit back and wait for very concrete and widespread illness caused by microwaves from mobile phones. Maybe somewhat cynical, but it is logical; most people are probably not willing to stop using their mobile phones without substantial physical proof regardless of government warnings. So the question is: is there any evidence of any illness so far? Can we identify any specific symptoms?

Holt’s theory that asthma is caused by microwaves is interesting. It is not in the heavily polluted, less developed countries that asthma is more frequent, but in the heavily developed countries of the West with most electrosmog, where almost every other child has some kind of allergy today. 

Children are more sensitive to microwaves than adults and recently there has been an increase in children getting severe inflammation of the gut, Crohns disease. This disease shows the same pattern as do allergies and asthma. Both cause inflammation processes and both involve the immune defense (Svenska Dagbladet October 25, 1999. 

In Scandinavia we suffer from en epidemic of ”burned out” individuals from all walks of life. People who become dysfunctional due to stress and have to leave work, in the best of cases for a few month, in some cases, never to return. A new vocabulary has been invented. Journalists love the subject.

Even children are affected. ”Teenagers are stressed to pieces” says the Danish psychiatrist Gideon Ziotnek in Expressen newspaper November 22, 1999. Ziotnek thinks that stress will cause the brain to atrophy. ”Young people can get emotional and intellectual disturbances”

Another paper (GoteborgsPosten) wrote the previous day: ”A study among a thousand schoolchildren in Gothenburg show that 13 percent with normal hearing experience tinitus. This can be a sign of social stress”.

A question worth asking: Why is everyone suddenly so stressed? Have we changed our social behavior so much? We are working harder, but are we working that much harder? In the past people worked hard also, but what is new in our lives? 

What has dramatically changed to cause this stress? 

There is an important factor: the increased radiation from mobile phones, television and radio broadcasts.

During 1994- 1996, when Swedish teenagers started using mobile phones, prescriptions for sleeping pills to young women of the ages between 15-24 years have doubled.(Radio: Dagens Eko October 4 1999). At the same time, prescriptions of anti-depressants to the same group have increased by 40 percent.

But how exactly can we attribute the stress we experience to microwaves? Professor Henry Lai from USA during a visit to Gothenburg explained that microwaves have the same stress effect on the human body as loud sound has. The invisible microwaves that we cannot see, but that pass through our bodies, is a chronic stressor. Our bodies, whether we want to or not, experience the microwaves as stress, as though we were exposed to loud noise continuously. This might explain the epidemic of ”burned out” individuals. With an ongoing background stress from microwaves and other electrosmog, we cannot carry out ordinary hard work. We have become stress sensitive and brittle. A further worrying comment from Professor Lai was that this stress, like any other stress, has an accumulative effect.

Are people finally beginning to make associations between their environment and their symptoms? Yes, some are. When young people show an increase in oral cancer, there is certainly cause to pause. A professor in tumor surgery for nose and throat, Staffan Edström at the Sahlgrenska hospital in Gothenburg, explains (in the newspaper GP 13 December 1999) that we all live in an environment with intensified radiation from mobile phones, computers, and cars and that this gives cause to think that the environmental factor can explain this increase in oral cancer among the young. 

Will our national health system be able to cope with the new illnesses caused by mobile phones? Brain tumors are comparatively easy to deal with if they occur. Either people die or they survive after surgery, but if a large part of the working population is becoming prematurely senile, (microwaves cause toxins to pass the blood brain barrier into the brain where they can cause Alzheimer’s disease) then we face a practical and ethical situation one hardly dare contemplate. 

In Sweden, health care is locally funded and local politicians, show no compunction whatsoever in letting severely ill people wait for urgent operations (cataracts, hip replacements)for several years. Even urgent cancer operations are delayed. With this attitude, one might only guess what cost-efficient, non-sentimental and highly practical Swedes might come up with in dealing with a large senile population with no place to go and no one to care for them.

Mobile phones might mean a tidy profit today. But tomorrow we might have to pay. The golden goose might very well turn out to be the mad cow.

Leif Sodergren
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