Power companies wanted To build a new route, Saying, "We need this new line!" But they encountered much doubt.
You'll ruin our health, And destroy many trees! But the power companies refused To hear all our pleas.
At the source of this power The Cree suffering is revealed. If the project goes through Their fate will be sealed.
To our elected officials We sent letters and petitions. "But the decision" they said, "Is solely the commission's."
When the power companies say, "This is what we need!" PSC, don't approve it! Don't give into their greed!
The commission must consider An alternate solution! There's ways to get power Without increasing pollution.
Try fuel cells and wind farms, Promote power conservation. Build gas-fired turbines For distributed generation.
Look to the future Dear Governor Tommy! Steel towers aren't the way To feed our economy.
I wish I could end This saga with cheer. But there's a battle to fight Thoughout the new year.
I have seen your full-page ads, in the New York Times and other mass media publications, promoting the sales of Nokia cell phones as Christmas presents for children using some Disney "Holiday Magic". The ad copy states: "Just try to have a serious conversation on one of these. Give the gift of Disney and talk all you want. Chose from Mickey, Minnie, Donald or Goofy. Makes the perfect stocking stuffers. Only from AT&T."
I am the Executive Director of the Council on Wireless Technology Impacts, a national organization of citizens and professionals concerned about safe use of electromagnetic radiation. Our opinion is that this kind of marketing is irresponsible and is selling out America's children. By cultivating excessive cell phone dependence among America's youngest children, AT&T may cause some children to become 'goofy'!
The following information underscores our concerns:
Elizabeth A. Kelley
Council on Wireless Technology Impacts
Your appearance 11-2-99 on Larry King Live discussing your book "All The Best" was very touching.
I have great empathy for anyone who has endured the pain of watching a child suffer through the rigors of treatment only to lose her to a terrible disease like leukemia. It is obvious you and Mrs. Bush keep your little Robin close by recalling the good times -- my heart goes out to you both!!
I am appealing to you, as Chairman of the M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, for help in "getting the word out" about the recent National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences EMF RAPID Study conclusions that "there is a possible connection between ELF's (extremely low frequenchy electromagnetic fields) and leukemia in children." Studies also indicate a possible relationship between EMF's in the workplace and adult leukemia. Both the NIEHS and a study by the National Academy of Science agreed on the proposition that epidemiological research showed PROXIMITY to powerlines as having an association with a higher incidence of childhood leukemia.
It is apparent that our government, as well as industry, cancer societies and the media have chosen to ignore or downplay the seriousness of the need to properly inform and educate the public regarding exposure to EMR. The current web pages of NIEHS regarding EMF RAPID state in part: "research continues on some 'lingering concerns' and efforts to reduce exposures continue." I and many others ask, "what efforts!!!????
The National Cancer Institute (NIH) home page has a section regarding press releases. One very interesting topic is entitled "Environmental tobacco smoke 'linked' to lung cancer and other effects." Where is a press release regarding "possible connection between EMF's and childhood leukemia?" NCI's CancerNet webpage has also not been updated.
The Leukemia Society of America makes no mention of the EMF RAPID conclusions on their web pages.
The American Cancer Society last updated their web pages on 4-13-99. Their pages do not reflect conclusions of the NIEHS RAPID Study.
We need public service announcements on TV, in newspapers and magazines and also over the radio. Brochures should be distributed to schools and the various medical facilities in our country as well as Canada, Mexico and other countries around the world. All of this is no secret to The World Health Organization!!
Caretakers of todays' children as well as tomorrow's children, must be educated so they can take measures to avoid and reduce EMR exposure in childrens' bedrooms (as well as their own). Clock radios, telephone answering machines, certain lamps and other electrical devices should not be placed near the head of a bed. Beds should not be adjacent to a wall where the power enters a home. Children must be told to "back off" -- to sit or stand several feet away from TV sets when they are watching or playing handheld games.
Cell phones are also fast becoming an issue of major concern. On a recent 20/20 Program, you may have heard researchers, Dr.George Carlo and Dr. Ross Adey voice their concerns regarding cell phone use and studies showing links to memory loss and brain cancer. Dr. Henry Lai just completed studies showing how cell phone microwaves affect long term memory in rats.
"I am targeting the children" exclaimed an inventor of a disposable cell phone!! She hopes to market the phones at McDonalds in time for the year 2000 holidays. AT&T is promoting a Disney cell phone....... Nokia and other companies are "on the bandwagon!!" Childrens' cell phones are now being sold by Toys R Us!!!
The "evidence" whether weak or strong IS significant!! There is worldwide concern about the known effects of this Category B Carcinogen and the public has "THE NEED TO KNOW' and 'THE RIGHT TO KNOW!!!"
Joanne C. Mueller
Results of the EMF (Electromagnetic Fields) RAPID Study will soon be presented to Congress. Their presentation may conclude with a statement regarding "possibility" of a realtionship between ELF EMF's (extremely low frequency electromagnetic fields) and Leukemia in children. It appears the scientists based their opinions on the "new studies" without considering the plethora of information (evidence) from prior studies and medical journal articles.
Doctors admit knowing ELF EMF's affect immune functions in mice. Scientists know the pathology of diseases in mice is nearly IDENTICAL to that in humans.
A quick look at The National Electric and Magnetic Fields Research and Communication Program Draft Strategic Plan, May 1993, prepared by U. S. Department of Energy, Washington, D.C. 20585 will show the many areas of concern including the "CONCERNS" referenced in the report as to what to tell the people/public and how much to tell the people/public.!!
The importance of our childrens' education is high on everyone's list today. How are they supposed to get a good education when many are being assaulted by silent, non-ionizing radiation they and their parents know nothing about? These children have headaches, asthma, sinus problems, ear infections, stomach problems, etc. and in the case of our family, the two grandsons with the "unusual immune deficiencies."
There is a HVTL (high voltage transmission line) only 50 feet from our bedroom window which produces electromagnetic fields throughout our home averaging 3.0 miligauss day and night. Epidemiologic studies by Dr. Nancy Wertheimer many years ago showed a link to Leukemia in children in homes estimated to have fields of 2.0 mgs. Dr. Wertheimer also noted many of the homes with ill children were close to power poles containing transformers.
Our grandsons improved after they were removed from their waterbeds which were up against walls where the main power source came into their homes. We do, however, believe they were affected prior to their births as result of our son and daughter "living under the lines" during their developmental years.
The power companies/"industry" has recommended "PRUDENT AVOIDANCE" long ago. Where pray tell are the Public Service Announcements? The industry wants us to believe concerns relate more strongly to appliances such as microwaves, computers, etc. and states "all homes have magnetic fields." That may be true when standing right near the appliance, but I believe scientists know that sleeping for many hours, day after day in ELF EMF's has a profound effect on a person's pineal gland therefor affecting all of the hormones in a person's body.
It is time to GET THE WORD OUT!! It is time to help other parents make changes in their childrens' bedrooms so those children can feel better and be able to study and play as well as LIVE!! It is time to let parents know it may be "prudent" to have their children step back as far as possible from the TV sets when playing video games. It is time for "experts" to stop giving false testimony in exchange for big payments from "industry." It is time for the power companies, installers of microwave towers, cell service providers, TV and radio conglomerates, etc. to take responsibility and work toward mitigating EMF radiation in populated areas. It is time for people to "follow their hearts and to do the right thing!" It is time to put ALL people FIRST!!! It is time for the government to allow the scientists around the world to conduct proper studies which consider what is already known instead of cutting off their funding when they get too close to the TRUTH!!
Our family's story is significant and probably unusual in the fact that we have lived "under the lines" for almost 30 years -- think I have heard most people move at least every seven years.
Today, I requested information from Senator Wellstone's office in regard to testifying before Congress when the RAPID Study is presented. I am not a scientist/researcher but I most definitely have been a "lab rat." I also have an unusual protein in my blood that has never before been characterized in the lab at the University of Minnesota.....
Joanne C. Mueller
Why is the public subjected to this. It is because of the politics of EMFs. The politics of EMFs that sees reports linking EMFs and health suppressed by the White House. The politics of EMFs that sees agencies releasing reports with press releases that downplay or even contradict the findings of health links that are contained in the reports.
The latest piece of confusing information the public has been exposed to is the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences panel finding that EMFs are a "possible" human carcinogen. What does that say to the public - nothing. Bombarded with news stories about studies linking all sorts of things, including common foods, to cancer the typical public response is "so what - everything causes cancer these days".
However, if the truth be known, in my humble opinion, that is not the message the panel intended to convey. I believe they would not have examined the massive amount of reports and studies out there, and agonized over them just to say something as innocuous as that. I believe that they really want to convey the message that EMFs are PROBABLY, not possibly, a human carcinogen, but the politics of EMFs prevented them from going that far.
What the public deserves to hear is the truth. Not everyone exposed to EMFs is going to get cancer, indeed most won’t. But there is now overwhelming evidence that those who are exposed have a much greater risk of cancer, leukemia and other heatlh problems. Indeed the studes indicate that children, in particular, exposed to higher EMF levels have two to three times the liklihood of getting cancer or leukemia.
What the public wants to know - is what are we going to do about it. When are we going to do the research necessary to find out how EMFs are linked to health problems so we can find out what we need to do to reduce the risks. And when are we, as a society, going to start taking serious prudent avoidance measures.
We know we cannot eliminate the risk, just as we cannot elimate the risks associated with driving automobiles, because no more are we going to ban electricty than we are going to ban cars. But we can take measures to reduce it, especially when children are concerned. For example, nobody would allow a 100 kilometre an hour highway beside a school so why do we allow high voltage power lines beside schools.
So what is holding us back. It is the politics of EMFs. The public deserves better than to be subjected to the politics of EMFs.
The speaker who made the above statement was one of thirty or so scientists who were present at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) sponsored EMF/health effects research review project recently completed in Minneapolis, Minnesota in the U.S.A. There, the "working group," a panel of 30 scientists who had been selected by NIEHS to write the final report, agreed to the final draft of a report summarizing more than five years of studies by literally hundreds of researchers worldwide. In the report, the panel voted 19-8 to identify EMF (power frequency electromagnetic fields) as a class 2B carcinogen.
As it happens, I was seated next to that scientist during the final three days of that historic gathering. He (like myself) was not an actual participant on the panel. He was an "observor."
Fortunately, the editor of MicroWave News (MWN) heard the statement and recorded those words in the pages of MWN. I can certainly vouch for the fact that the statement is consistent with some of my conversations with the speaker, Dr. Michael Marron, of the Office of Naval Research in Arlington Virginia.
I also learned that my fellow U.S. Navy seat-mate is an extremely well qualified and knowledgeable expert about EMF, going as far back (in his involvement with the issue) as the 1973 SANGUINE Project -- a U.S. Navy communications project (later abandoned) that is reported in Ellen Sugarman's latest book, Warning, the electricity around you may be hazardous to your health.
I know of no better commentary or summary for the final results of the five year, $45 million, EMF RAPID research project (as it was designated) than Dr. Marron's pronouncement above. Here it is again, as it appears in MicroWave News:
"Now the public will know what the members of the EMF research community have known for years," commented Dr. Michael Marron of the Office of Naval Research in Arlington, VA. Marron is a member of the EMF Inter agency Advisory Committee, which must submit its own report on the EMF RAPID program to Congress." [MicroWave News, vol XVIII, No. 4; July/August 1998, pp. 5.]It is, I submit, particularly noteworthy that a person of such unchallengeable qualifications and background in the EMF subject should observe: ...Now the public will know what we "have known for years"......
In other words, "we" (the scientists researching EMF) have known about the bio-effects that account for the "possible" (many still believe "probable") carcinogenic effects of 50 or 60 Hz power line frequency EMFs for a long time!!! Only the public has been kept in the dark!!!
But, Dr Marron, will the public know??? Will the public THIS TIME be given the WHOLE story??? Or, as so many times in the past -- when other equally qualified, equally legitimate scientific panels had reached substantially the same conclusion (As early as 1990, the "working level" scientists at EPA reached the same verdict.) -- will the public once again be cheated of its "right to know" by a government that has ***criminally*** controlled and distorted the flow of EMF information to the public for so long???
Oh, you gasp, surely not "criminally." Yes, the word is "criminally." That is exactly the judgment a good lawyer would seek if pursuing a corporate corrupter of the truth in a similar situation -- corporate CEOs (like the tobacco chieftains) who knowingly misled the public about the safety of their product, or a pharmaceutical official who "knowingly" witholds from the public vital information about tests of his product which show it may be unsafe. Thus withholding information about possible harm to the public to the extent that innocent lives could be lost or innocent children stricken with leukemia.
That is what our government has done! Knowingly.... And, not once, but repeatedly, since at least the 1990 EPA study that was buried by political operatives (not by the scientists who had done the work).....
Any good lawyer would go after "punitive" damages based on the criminal negligence/malfeasance behavior of the officials involved in that case ... and others subsequent to it ... in a history that is full of distortions, withheld and dissembled public information, which (as Ellen Sugarman has written) apparently began with the SANGUINE project, if not earlier. (In the 1960s and early 70s the Soviet Union used EMF against the personnel of the U.S. Embassy in Moscow. That information, too, has not been fully revealed to the public or to the families of the embassy people who were exposed.)
In keeping with the conclusion of Dr. Marron (above), I say that the charges against our government -- for keeping information about the bio-effects of EMF from the public ... and obfuscating, dissembling, or distorting the resultant EMF hazards ... that "we" (the insiders) have "known for years" -- should be characterized as: "deliberate and criminal negligence and malfeasance of office....."
Of course, the industries who have a vested interest in the EMF issue are also guilty of dissembling, obfuscating (and sometimes lying) about the EMF realities, too..... But their conduct (motivated by profits and the protection of the value of their company on Wall Street) is, it seems, more acceptable to our "profit driven" society..... Probably, they could not be charged with "criminal" negligence and malfeasance -- only greed.....
Well, it will happen again -- just like in the past -- if we allow the same national sense of "inertia" that has governed our actions about the EMF health hazard to date ... to continue in the future....
The brutal reality is that the health and safety of the citizens of the U.S. are still subordinate to a bureaucracy (of RICH health agencies, like the NIH, NCI, NIEHS triumvirate) that has been "staffed" by the same political influences which have for decades guaranteed that 'public interests' in health and safety matters come AFTER the profits of the industry special interest groups, the military, and the international trade concerns which guide the U.S. political/industrial system far more than do the health and safety needs of our citizens....
I'm afraid that I no longer have one scintilla of confidence in a governmental system which FUNCTIONS to ignore or deny the public's health and safety needs when those needs are in conflict with the powerful vested interests who control our government ... at all levels. The record clearly shows that it is not just our legislature or executive branches that have "sold out" to the special interests. The bureaucracies as well are either "staffed" by friends of the big spenders (that's NOT Joe public) or ... they are often intimidated and living only for their retirement and/or the day they will leave the government and go to work for one of the 'big spender' companies....
This will not change unless we 'the people' demand it...... Absent a tidal wave of public indignation that DEMANDS the publication of information which has been withheld for years (as Dr. Marron implicitly observed), the INERTIA of the existing political/bureaucratic system -- a system of big spending political "insiders" who "buy" the bureaucratic machinery of our government as well as the 'hearts' of our legislators -- will continue to deny public protection from the kind of exploitation that has been recorded so far in the EMF story....
A public policy that rightfully should be dedicated to protect the "people" of our democracy (read: oligarchy) and foster the formation of policies that recognize the ubiquitous nature of the looming EMF health hazard will not occur unless we demand it, fight for it, manifest a willingness to "throw out" the political leadership that stands in the way......
Clearly, the ubiquitous looming EMF health hazard is (within the lifetime of my "x generation" children) the most serious single environmental threat to public health and safety that has yet been identified..... All the scientific evidence of this scientific paradigm, the bio-effects of EMF which we have just BEGUN to comprehend, points toward ***two major conclusions*** which were NOT decided by the NIEHS panel that met in Minnesota. They were not even considered.
Yet it is manifestly apparent to "the insiders" that the results of the Minneapolis meeting portend the future acknowledgment -- perhaps SOON in the future -- of the following two additional "bio-effects" realities:
(1) It is not the 60 Hz (power line) frequencies, alone, that constitute the health threat of non-ionizing electromagnetic radiation. The evidence of EMF research worldwide in many other wave-bands of the electromagnetic spectrum is clearly trying to tell us that ALL "EMF" signals (microwave, RF, etc., of whatever frequency) should be considered suspect!!! The Russians have known for more than twenty years....
(2) The Minneapolis verdict was the "easy," obvious verdict. (As Dr. Marron's statement implies.) Many, if not "most," of the scientists on that panel realize full well that the 'truly appropriate' judgment would have been to define the EMF health threat as a "2A" category carcinogen -- a "probable" carcinogen rather than the "possible" that was decided.
[Note carefully!!! The balloting was conducted in an "open" balloting procedure (where all those who "control" the funding were able to "take note" of how each scientist voted!!!). I believe that if a secret ballot had been allowed (as I suggested on this network some months past), the 2A category ("probable" carcinogen) would have been more likely to have been the resultant "judgment." Failing that, the 2B verdict would have turned out to be even more decisive than the count recorded: 19 to 8. I observed that in all the votes taken there were five "scientists" -- all "tied-in" in some way with the electric industry -- who voted consistently against any finding that would have put EMF in an adverse health category........ Consider how overwhelming the judgment becomes if those five (clearly voting in a conflict of interest situation) were excluded. Instead of 19 to 8, suddenly the ratio is 19 to 3, an overwhelming majority judgment!!!!]
Yes, my fellow Navy Officer and seat-mate at the historic Minneapolis conference, Mike Marron, I agree with you -- it is high time that the PUBLIC should be allowed to know "what we know" ... what we "have known" for a long time.....
Only "the usual" governmental/bureaucratic inertia of the past can now prevent it..... Let us no longer play the "docile citizen" passive role which relies on "the government" to protect "our" interests ... a role that the U.S. government has long since 'abdicated'.....
Let it henceforth be our commitment to ourselves ... that WE are going to INSIST on 'performance' to OUR standards ... and OUR needs ... by legislators (and bureaucrats) who are 'expendable' when they fail to put OUR priorities above the "special interests" of those who have "bought" the system..... The EMF saga is a good place to start......
I am now convinced that the most important basic judgment: that biological interaction between EMFs (at exposure levels occurring in our environment) and the human body (cells and tissue, glands, brain neurons, etc.) is occurring..... is true!
....And that it has a number of different manifestations, most of which we now mainly "suspect" rather than "can prove" (the "tip of an iceberg" analogy)..... (Much more research is needed.)
But at least two biological "mechanisms" are now rather well proved;
1) the melatonin case which likely leads to some female breast cancers and perhaps is a factor in childhood leukemia as well. [Indeed, it is thought that the entire immune system can be affected by the melatonin disruption which apparently results from EMF interaction at the pineal gland.]
2) brain tumors (sometimes cancer), though we are not as confident about what is the "mechanism" causing the illness, we do see that it is showing strong and consistent epidemiological evidence in certain work environments.....
3) The Alzheimer's epidemiological evidence is also pretty consistent.
As I say there is good reason to suspect much more, but the research has not been done.....
The "vested interests" (telecommunications and electrical industry) have about given up on their denial that these biological interactions are occurring. "But," they argue, "that doesn't prove that adverse health consequences are the result."
To argue that these (now many, many documented) interactions CAN NOT lead to health problems of the suspected nature (leukemia, cancer, Alzheimer's, nervous system disorders, etc.) really requires that they argue against mathematical probabilities.... ALL of this biological activity, they must argue, is harmless???.... And, they must argue that it is harmless ... IN SPITE OF the epidemiological evidence which shows, in effect, the end result damage in the form of cancer, etc.
There are not many of the "serious and knowledgeable scientists" -- looking at this research -- who "buy" that argument anymore....
BUT ... the government's vested interest in this matter is almost as great as the industries!!!! Between them, they have so far succeeded in keeping much of this info from the public. (GET ELLEN SUGARMAN'S BOOK AND READ IT!!!!) What info HAS gotten to the public has been successfully obfuscated by claims like, "but this hasn't been 'proved' yet," etc. ...or...."There is much disagreement within the scientific community, etc." By implication, the public should ignore the "weight of the evidence" until there is "overwhelming" agreement or "consensus." ..... With industry able to "hire" and "influence" the scientific judgments ... and with industry's hold on the communications media ... the kind of "consensus" THEY say we should wait for ... will never occur!!! IT IS, INDEED, VERY MUCH LIKE THE TOBACCO CASE, twenty or thirty years ago!!!!]
Guru says: the issue is certainly NOT ... what we now can say has been "proved." The issue is: what is the WEIGHT of the evidence telling us?????
The weight of the evidence is telling us that we have a really BIG problem ... and that it is getting bigger ... faster ... as we actually are "saturating" our environment in a "technological/sales frenzy" -- of cell phones (and their 140,000 retransmission antennas), space-based satellites, power lines, TV transmitters, not to mention all the electronics now in our homes and businesses, etc. [And P.S., there are some new military projects which dwarf past exposure levels.... The military of all nations has ALWAYS been a major source of EMF pollution.]
This frenzied growth in EMF exposure, which has no comparable historic parallel in terms of worldwide pollution, is giving us an "electronic smog" at more and more frequencies of the EMR spectrum ... and at higher and higher levels of transmission energy...... If this "stuff" would just emit a light blue "glow," we would all see that we are now living in a deep blue world!!!! And it is rapidly getting bluer.... And, contrary to about one-hundred years of scientific "assumptions," it IS biologically active!!!! And at least SOME of that biological activity is harmful to our health......
Industry (and the government???) want us to wait until we have determined what are the parameters of "health-affecting" and "non- health-affecting" exposure? They want us to wait until we can show "how" the damage is being done?? Worst of all, they want us to show that the human "cost" of NOT dealing with this problem is "worth" the economic "cost" that will be incurred in dealing with it??? (That's the old, "if you install safety measures in the mine you will drive up the cost of coal"... argument.) In short, they want us to wait until virtually all the details have been "filled in" before we try to do anything about this (now virtually certain) health menace......
In 1985, Dr. Robert O Becker, M.D., published his (now) classic study: The Body Electric, Electromagnetism and the Foundation of Life...... ISBN --0-688-06971-1.
On page 275 of the most recent edition, you will find:
"The human species has changed its electromagnetic background more than any other aspect of the environment. For example, the density of radio waves around us is now 100 million or 200 million times the natural level reaching us from the sun. Nor is there any end in sight. When superconducting cables are introduced, they'll increase the field strength around power lines by a factor of ten or twenty....." [Written in 1985. We now have the "superconductors." -- guru].......//skip//......"A few years ago most investigators believed that each wavelength ["frequency"] interacted mainly with objects comparable to it in size. This was a comforting notion that theoretically limited each frequency to one type of effect and predicted that really troublesome problems for humans would come from only one portion of the spectrum -- the FM band. Now, however, we know there are primary effects on all life forms at ELF frequencies, and in other parts of the spectrum there can be consequences for specific systems at 'any' level, from the subatomic to the entire biosphere as a unit.......//skip//........ ".......There's often no direct relationship between dose and effect, however; a low power density sometimes does things that a higher one does not..........//skip//........ "In a sense, the entire population of the world is willy-nilly the subject of a giant experiment....."Dr. Becker was (is) an M.D. who got "lost" and became a scientist, in the truest sense of the word. He pursued the truth even when it led to major confrontation with the "establishment" (medical, scientific or political). He was eventually "pushed out" of the research community. I believe he is now living in retirement in New York.
When the final chapter of the EMF saga is written, Robert Becker's contribution will loom as large as any. I have previously stated that I see this subject as the most important science event since E = mc(squared). It is that because of the really 'huge' window of knowledge (and, hopefully, understanding) it opens into the vistas both of physics and biology -- and the 'relationship' of the two. Before Robert Becker, only the Russians (in "modern" times) had peered thru that window.
If you get hold of his book be sure you read about the 'Soviet' activities in EMF at least two decades before U.S. science even acknowledged its existence. As he tells you, they used that knowledge to direct a campaign of EMF signals against the employees of the U.S Embassy in Moscow. Two Ambassadors died of cancer, perhaps as a consequence of this Soviet EMF activity. More to the point, adverse health effects were also documented with regard to other employees as well. The health-effects data was "collected" (not very thoroughly) by the U.S. government, but much of that data has mysteriously disappeared........
It is my view that he should be seriously considered for the Nobel Prize for his pioneering work in the EMF field, though that was admittedly a "sideline" in his ground breaking, controversial career. The EMF saga is going to be so big and so important -- Larry -- that it will produce more than one Nobel winner, I am sure......
It seems hard to believe that ten years have passed since the Bridlewood community began its monumental struggle against Ontario Hydro. The twin rows of high voltage towers now loom ominously over the community, a constant reminder that Bridlewood lost the routing battle.
I look at what happened in Bridlewood, however, as an example of how a community can come together and fight for important values and principles. While we lost our chance to keep these lines out of Bridlewood, the work done by the community and the Bridlewood Residents Hydro Line Committee (BRHLC) has been used for good by other communities around the world.
In September 1986, a newspaper article alerted our tiny community that the power lines that were to be constructed through its heart carried more than electricity. The lines also brought an unwelcome electromagnetic field (EMF) that spilled well outside Ontario Hydro's right-of-way. We learned that this non-ionizing radiation had been implicated in numerous studies as being associated with the development of cancer, especially leukemia and tumours involving the nervous system.
The community was furious at Ontario Hydro and the provincial government for wanting to locate this potential health risk adjacent to a public school site and housing. We innocently believed that the province would re-route the coming hydro lines to the available alternate corridor. Why would they knowingly introduce a danger to our children?
The BRHLC mobilized amazing community support. We began with petitions, letters, and deputations, but we soon realized that Toronto wasn't eager to do Bridlewood any favours.
Our lobbying intensified. We prepared submissions to Cabinet, did our own health and EMF research, staged rallies with a giant balloon that floated 180 feet in the air, and marched in protest when the Premier was in town for the opening of the new Ottawa courthouse.
In the Spring of 1987, when Ontario Hydro started their work in the corridor without government approval, Bridlewood mothers and children blocked construction vehicles. It wasn't until 1988, after an election, a Cabinet decision, and a court case that Hydro would re-start its work building the new line.
Still we weren't finished. The scientific evidence was mounting that the lines posed a real hazard, and this resolve to fight was fortified by high EMF readings at the school site. We tried to get school board support, but they were unwilling to admit that the school was at risk.
While we raised about $40,000 over three years for lobbying and court battles, we could not match Hydro's deep pockets.
Worried residents moved out of Bridlewood, to get their children out of the school. The BRHLC participated in a study of the EMF radiation, and reported results to the community. We preached what the scientists were saying: "prudent avoidance".
The work done by our many volunteers was not wasted. Ontario Hydro claims they took great care in configuring the lines to reduce the EMFs in Bridlewood, perhaps knowing that we were monitoring the readings with our dosimeter.
We have also helped prevent other "Bridlewoods" from happening. Our battle was publicized on W5 and The Journal. This and other far-reaching publicity allowed us to share the knowledge we had accumulated with other communities in Canada and the United States.
In Boca Raton, Florida residents used our information to help win their court challenge. The judge ruled that children attending the Sandpiper School could not play in the schoolyard because of the presence of EMFs. British Columbia Hydro, in an unprecedented move, offered expropriation to the residents of Courtney, B.C.
I still get calls from anxious parents or potential homeowners inquiring about power lines and cancer. I usually refer them to the most dedicated member of the BRHLC, Richard Woodley. He has developed a massive bibliography of the current studies, and since 1993 has made it available on the World Wide Web. Richard works tirelessly on his basement computer on the bibliography, as well as communicating with people and organizations around the world.
The BRHLC's site on the Web enables Richard to assist individuals who are faced with decisions about buying a home on a right-of-way, or communities who are fighting the construction of power lines. In May this year Richard received e-mail from a community in northern Spain that was facing a situation similar to Bridlewood. Richard was able to direct them to theinformation they needed.
He also keeps tabs on what standards are being set for human exposure in different jurisdictions, and makes it public on our site. For example, school officials in Sharman Oaks, California moved an electrical transformer away from a portable classroom because the EMF readings inside the classroom were unacceptable. Several New Jersey schools have shut down classrooms near high-voltage lines over concerns about possible health risks to students, following the release of a state-wide survey of EMF levels in schools. Closer to home, in Vancouver and Burnaby, B.C. city councils were filing a complaint with the BC Utilities Commission requesting the "undergrounding" of existing transmission lines.
There are now over seven hundred studies on this issue and the vast majority show a correlation between exposure to EMFs and cancer. For example, a 1994 joint study conducted by Ontario Hydro, Hydro Quebec and Electricite de France found a link between the magnetic fields and an increased incidence of leukemia among its utility workers. This year the World Health Organization initiated a five-year $3.33-million project to assess the health and environmental effects of exposure to EMFs.
Getting involved in the hydro line fight was a learning experience. Our eyes were opened to the cynical motivations and actions of politicians. The fight was at times exhausting, and sad when families were forced to flee their community. On the positive side, however, the community became closer as neighbours became friends united in a common struggle.
The work the committee continues, and through Richard, it has enabled other communities to win their fights. Personally, I learned that ordinary people can unite around a common cause and create positive change that can be felt world-wide.
This commentary was first published in the Kanata Kourier Standard, October 11, 1996. A similar commentary was published in the Ottawa Citizen, September 26, 1996.
We are not talking about smoking and cancer here, although the parallells are very interesting. Certainly in terms of the denial factor both industries preach the same line - until we have definitive proof we are justified in acting as if there is no risk. Despite recent findings (New York Times, October 28, 1996) of a causal link (rather than just an epidemiological link) between smoking and cancer the tobacco industry still routinely denies that the link has been proven. However public health officials, in particular the United States Surgeon General, felt there was an urgent need to act as soon as the risk was apparent, rather than waiting till it was definitively proven.
As with smoking, public health officials have seen the need to act on the electromagnetic radiation risk before the elusive definitive proof has been provided. For example, the Washington State Department of Health has been telling people to avoid electromagnetic fields at the level of 3 mG. As well, Dr. David Carpenter, former Executive Secretary of the New York Power Lines Project and now Dean of the State of New York School of Public Health has stated: "I am now convinced that EMFs pose a health hazard. There is a statistical association between magnetic fields and cancer that goes beyond the shadow of reasonable doubt. I think there is clear evidence that exposure to EMFs increases the risk for cancer."
But there are differences. For one thing, unlike electricity which our society depends on, smoking has no socially redeeming qualities. The other difference is that while virtually everyone who smokes will be harmed, if not killed by it, only a percentage of those exposed to electromagnetic fields will suffer the results. But that does not make it insignifant, especially for those children (and their parents) who contract cancer and leukemia because of their exposure to electromagnetic fields. The epidemiological evidence is clear that children's risk of contracting cancer and leukemia doubles or triples if they are exposed to high levels (2-3 mg and above) of electromagnetic fields on a regular basis.
So what should we do? Simple! Acknowldege the risk. Although everyone who drives will not die as a result of it, the carnage on our highways is proof enough of the risk involved. What do we do about that risk - do we ignore it because highways are essential to our society? No, we as a society, invest time, effort and considerable sums of money to reduce the risk. We have highway standards, traffic laws and enforcement mechanisms - and we have special provisions for residential neighbourhoods and school zones. This seems like a principle tailor-made to the EMF issue.
Let us stop wasting resources arguing over what is plainly evident - that there is an increased risk of cancer and other health problems, especially for children, as a result of exposure to electromagnetic fields. Let us put those resources into identifying more specifically the risk factors involved, and identifying the most cost-effective ways of reducing the risk. And let us act first, and quickly, to protect our children by establishing stringent rules to keep EMF exposure levels in schools and on playgrounds below 2 mG, the currently established safety standard.