Every "old" sailer knows that a change in the direction of the wind foretells a change in the weather as well.
This message is written to invite your attention to what we believe is an important change in the way the EMF health effects debate is being waged.
In that message we were talking about those scientists who are so well schooled in the science of the past ... that they seem to be unable to recognize or comprehend the new scientific realities that are being revealed by the "march of events" ... a growing preponderance of evidence that the "old truth" (the conventional wisdom) simply does not explain what is being revealed about the effects of EMF on human health.
For nearly two decades now, the cry we have been hearing loud and clear from within that 'circle of wagons' has been:
"It is not possible ... It is not possible ... It is not possible."
Well ... now we are beginning to hear a new cry.
"It is not important ... It is not important ... It is not important," they are now saying.
However begrudgingly and reluctantly, the 'circle of wagons' has begun to concede, "Well, perhaps it *is* possible ... but even if deleterious biological effects are occurring at low levels of prolonged EMF exposure, they are not causing enough health damage to be concerned about."
"It is not important."
We should ignore those effects, they are now arguing, because of the greater good that is provided by electricity. "Don't waste all that money you are spending on the research or the mitigation of EMF dangers for such marginal adverse health consequences," they are telling us.
It is a back door admission that perhaps they were wrong after all -- now that it is becoming more difficult to deny the biological effects and the concomitant health consequences.
Later in this message we will return to this new "rationalization" by the 'circle of wagons,' but first let's review the recent .......
-- Most persuasive was the "Study of Cancer Among Hydro Workers at Ontario Hydro" in Canada. (Guru thinks that when the history of the EMF saga is written, this study will mark "the death of the canary.") This study, by Dr. Anthony Miller of the University of Toronto, covered 30,000 current, former and retired employees. It found an "increased risk of leukemia in association with increased exposure to both electric and magnetic fields." Previous studies have been less certain about the EMF/leukemia risk for adults, though many studies have linked EMF/leukemia for children. Also significant was Dr. Miller's finding that the electric field may indeed contribute more to the leukemia incidence than does the magnetic field. This finding should remind many EMF-L readers of the U.K. "radon daughter" hypothesis we discussed on this network early in the year. Remember? Dr. John Moulder (then a member of the group) more or less "pooh-pooh-ed" the idea.
--In Australia, a former chief medical officer at the Australian state operated phone company, Dr. Bruce Hocking, found disturbing evidence of higher leukemia rates (particularly higher leukemia death rates) in children who were "living near three television towers" compared to those living "farther away."
--Dr. Robert B. Goldberg's analysis (in EMF Health Report, July/August 1996) reported on four experiments presented at this year's Bioelectromagnetics (BEMS) Society meeting in Vancouver, Canada. All four experiments were replications or near replications of previous research. Their main value, therefore, is in the reinforcement which they provide of evidence previously offered -- the kind of evidence the 'circle of wagons' has been denying.
***The first experiment demonstrates blocking by a 60-Hertz magnetic field of melatonin's growth restricting action on cultured cancer cells. According to Dr. Goldberg, "This bioeffect occurs with a clear threshold of 6 to 12 milligauss, which is within the range of typical environmental EMF intensity levels physicists consider unresolvable from random EMF 'noise'."
***The second experiment replicated the cancer-promoting effect of a 60-Hertz, 20 Gauss magnetic field on skin tumors in mice. A 20 Gauss field is not the normal "power line" or work environment magnetic field, but it remains to be seen whether the strength of the field or the mechanism, itself, is the more important factor to be considered at this stage of the research.
***The third experiment confirmed that a 60-Hertz 1 Gauss magnetic field can attenuate lethal drug-induced seizures in rats. While this experiment is only a starting point, its main significance lies in its replication of an EMF-brain interaction mechanism.
***A further example of EMF-brain interaction research was the impairment of spatial learning in rats by microwave exposure, replicated in an experiment conducted by the University of Washington.
--In further analysis of the "business" portion of the Annual BEMS meeting, Dr. Goldberg observed: "If the magnetic field effect on melatonin inhibition of breast cancer cells proliferation is firmly established as a universally repeatable experiment, it will be up to the physicists to come up with a transduction mechanism that explains how such an effect can be initiated by a 60-Hertz EMF as weak as 6 to 12 mG."
--The importance of this last aspect was highlighted, as if on signal, by the appearance of a study coming out of Boston University which concluded that EMF from "main frame" computers presents an increased breast cancer risk for women. "This is consistent with the hypothesis that electric fields can cause chemical changes in the body that promote breast cancer," said epidemiologist Patricia F. Coogan of the BU School of Medicine.
Given the growing accumulation of evidence that EMF causes or contributes to biological activity which can account for the deleterious health consequences being consistently reported by the epidemiologists, it is not surprising that the 'circle of wagons' would begin to seek a new rationalization which would better explain (within the context of their pro-electric industry bias) the unfolding scientific evidence. The continued cry of "It's not possible!" just doesn't "sell" anymore.
First, it can fairly be stated that the claims of "costly mitigation" which supposedly is occurring (like the "prudent avoidance" claims) are greatly exaggerated. Mostly "P.R." propaganda for public consumption. Any independent (outside) audit of these claims would show that.
Second, if you stop to think about it, the cries of industry that, "We are wasting money on preventive measures that are not needed," assumes that they have some kind of divine right to pass all risk and uncertainty on to the public in order to avoid such costs cutting into their "profits." Industry wants to "pass the buck," shift the burden of protecting society upon society rather than upon themselves.
Third, isn't it clear that when society picks up these costs that have been caused by industry ... society is in fact *subsidizing* industry!
The world -- particularly the U.S. -- desperately needs a new ethos that addresses the accelerating assaults upon our environment which are being experienced with ever increasing frequency and intensity as our modern technological society "progresses."
The recent assault (within the last 40 or 50 years) by EMF is but one of many such challenges. It was there earlier, of course, but it was not detectable at the lower levels of exposure then being encountered.
Finally, what is the answer society is being given by the profit-driven ethos of the electric and telecommunications industries?
"Well," they are saying, "what does society expect? A 'risk free' society..... That is not possible."
OF COURSE a risk free society is not possible! But that being true ... are we to conclude that that means it is "open season" for industry (or anyone else, e.g., the government) therefore to impose added risks at will?
Of course not! That notion is preposterous. But that is the argument we are being given.
We quote from EMFguru #1-96:
"What we wish to concentrate on here is the "time-lag" factor. We believe it is crucial to an understanding of the full dimensions of the EMF health threat. And its importance derives in part out of the continued misdirection of public attention that is brought about by the present emphasis on the "cancer has not been proved therefore don't worry" non sequitur.
"Virtually all research that has taken place so far has come to the conclusion that these adverse health responses (from EMF exposure) probably do not occur instantaneously.
"They appear to arise slowly over a long period of time and perhaps prolonged exposure. (e.g., 5 to 10 years in the case of leukemia or perhaps 30 to 40 years in the case of Alzheimer's.)
"Consider this: the health cases that are coming to light in 1996 probably had their origin in the 1980s or before.
"*The damage that is being inflicted today we cannot see.* We cannot even estimate it because a government that does not admit that "there's a problem" is not gathering the data that would provide us a basis for such an estimate.
"Finally, add to the above picture the fact that the amount of EMF in the public's exposure environment is increasing each year at a (gross) rate of two-and-a-half to three percent per year compounded. That is based upon the average annual rate of growth in electricity production, so it must be a gross number. (Don't use it to estimate the increase in 'your' environment which is certain to be impacted by many other variables not addressed here.) It is provided to suggest the extent to which the EMF problem increases over time if we continue to avoid it."
Remember: The damage that is being done today ... we cannot see.
Another thing -- in the name of humanity, society can not let it be argued that these "small" ("small" today??) adverse health consequences are but the "price" that some must pay for the many advantages of an electricity-powered technological world.
That is the old "sweat shop" argument: society simply "must have" the cheap goods produced by the sweat shop laborers. "Their sacrifice (in long hours of demeaning and unhealthy work conditions) is necessary for the good of society." It was used in the case of the coal miners, too, remember(?) ... in Wales and the American Appalachia.
The suggestion that mankind is simply going to have to "live with" EMF health hazards -- as a part of the "trade-off" for the benefits of modern technology -- is an ABSURD notion!
That notion lies at the very heart of the word "electrophobia" -- the latest label (replacing "junk science") that is used by the 'circle of wagons' for ridicule and "put-down" of those who are concerned about EMF consequences.
It is particularly inappropriate given that we already know how to deal with many of the EMF hazards that are being exposed. Our learning curve is certain to be much shorter than was man's experience with fire, perhaps the closest parallel situation to the EMF challenge.
There is no need to be apologetic because we are not going to let the 'circle of wagons' rationalize away the damage that is being revealed. It is time to "shine the light" on the "profit"-driven ethos that is getting in the way of the good judgment of some in the scientific community.
The EMF health hazard IS IMPORTANT ... to the victims.
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