World Bulletin/News Desk
People are facing a host of illnesses ranging from brain tumors and leukemia to poor memory and concentration as they become increasingly engulfed by an "electrosmog" as Wi-Fi networks expand globally, scientists in Scandinavia have warned.
The team of experts told Anadolu Agency on Tuesday that it was already well established in the scientific community that electromagnetic fields (EMF) from mobiles, wireless LANs, baby calls and other wireless equipment based on microwaves can influence human blood circulation, respiration, temperature control, water balance and other bodily functions.
But Danish scientist Olle Johansson said the risks are increasing significantly as initiatives are taken all over the world to widen the already extensive network of Wi-Fi facilities.
“The wireless society is the largest human full-scale experiment ever, and it urgently needs to be addressed as such," said Associate Professor Olle Johansson from the Department of Neuroscience at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm.
Johansson warned: "We are literally enveloped by an 'electrosmog' which contributes to increased sickness rates, and politicians need a totally different approach to the problem.
"Global populations are not sufficiently protected from the emerging communication and data transmission technologies that are being deployed worldwide and are now affecting billions of people."
'Insane radiation limits'
Johansson has just published an article detailing the phenomenon entitled: "Health Risk from Wireless? The Debate is Over", together with his colleague Associate Professor Einar Flydal of the Department of Telematics at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim, Norway,
"The spectrum of possible health problems arising is extraordinarily wide – from brain tumors and leukemia to exhaustion, decreased memory and concentration and just feeling uncomfortable," Johansson explained.
The Council of Europe committee examined evidence in 2011 that the technologies had "potentially harmful" effects on humans, and concluded action was required to protect children.
It said in a report it was crucial to avoid repeating previous mistakes made when public health officials were slow to recognize the dangers of asbestos, tobacco smoking and lead in petrol.
Johansson went on: "The allowed radiation limits throughout the world are insane, to say the least.
"We are talking about values up to 1,000,000,000,000,000,000 (10 to the 18th) times higher than nature's background radiation, to which the human body has adapted through many 100,000 of years, and within a couple of decades, we have all been surrounded by biblical levels of artificial radio-waves, well knowing that they have major impacts on both human and animal health."
He called for the immediate adoption of a precautionary principle, saying he did not agree with the European Commission's conclusion from the Public Hearing of the Preliminary Opinion on Potential Health Effects of Exposure to Electromagnetic Fields (EMF) in March this year that more research needed to be done.
“Politicians should now rather take a look at how to get rid of the old 'avoid getting burnt' paradigm that still reigns with the authorities engaged in radiation protection – which goes, 'How long may one stand or sit in front of a radar before getting burned?' - and replace it with biomedical limits based on public health concerns," he said.
Danish doctor Helge Volkmann, who has opposed the rapid expansion of Wi-Fi for many years, agrees with Johansson.
He told Anadolu Agency: “Both industry and authorities lean upon studies, financed by the mobile communication industry, showing no dangers. But we have hard evidence that mobile signals can cause cancer.
"In Denmark, it is hard to find any place outside with no signal, so it is threatening the health of the whole population."
The company Ruckus Wireless, one of the pioneers in the wireless infrastructure market, estimates that the number of hotspots across the world will increase to 5.8 million by next year - an increase of 350 percent from 2011.
As scientific knowledge about the side effects worldwide have appeared, more cities in the Western world are tending to lower the values of exposure amid concerns over the possible effects on human health.
According to the Scandinavian scientists, lower radiation limits have already been studied and proposed in Vienna, Austria and in Brussels, Belgium.
"In Salzburg, Austria, a proposition has been launched to lower the exposure limit outdoors to one millionth (10-6) of today's levels, and one ten-millionth (10-7) for indoors," says Johansson.
France legislated in March last year to discourage Wi-Fi in schools until it is considered "safe for human consumption".
And since 2008, the French national library along with other libraries in Paris and a number of universities have removed all Wi-Fi networks and they have also been totally removed from schools in the town of Herouville-Saint-Clair.
In Israel, the Israeli Ministry of Education has stopped the installation of wireless networks in classrooms prior to the first grade in 2013 and limited the use of Wi-Fi between first and third grades
Israeli teachers are now required to turn off mobile phones and WiFi routers when they are not being used.
Germany recommended its schools use cabled computers instead of Wi-Fi as far back as 2007.
However in the U.S. park officials have taken the opposite tack in the Grand Teton National Park in Yellowstone, Wyoming, and are discussing a $34 million fiber-optic line through the park, buried along existing roads, to create the optimal Wi-Fi environment for visitors.
4G is now supported from Mammot Hot Springs in the park, where Verizon has installed LTE antennas and a microwave path.
In Africa, Wi-Fi and mobile phone masts are also been rapidly rolled out, with Cisco saying the continent will experience the strongest mobile data traffic growth on the planet, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 70 percent by 2018.
Africa is followed by Central and Eastern Europe, with CAGR growth of 68 percent and, in the Asia Pacific, 67 percent.
According to the European Commission, among the problems potentially related to exposure to electromagnetic fields are an increased cancer risk in the brain (glioma) and the ear (acoustic neuroma) through the heavy users of mobile phones.
It has also reported there is a potential association between exposure to broadcast transmitters and a higher rate of childhood cancer, including childhood leukaemia.
'Time to act'
Reproductive problems, cognitive function or symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, stress, sleep disturbances and skin problems are also believed to be risks.
At a public hearing in June, the EU Commission called for further investigation and the World Health Organization (WHO) is to conduct a formal risk assessment of all studied health outcomes from radio-frequency fields exposure by 2016.
But Johansson said such a move was "totally obsolete" as research is already "overwhelmingly showing the negative effects".
He said: “It is a scientific fact that radio waves in the centimeter band influence blood circulation, respiration, temperature control, water balance, albumin and sugar concentration in the cerebro-spinal fluid and more.
"Even electromagnetic fields at levels of only 1/100,000th of what we are regularly exposed to from mobiles, are found to disturb the complex electrical operations taking place at cellular levels, and to cause damage to DNA, proteins, neurons and oxidation processes."
"In spite of this, we have allowed an electrosmog of an almost unimaginable dimension to develop," he stated.
Calling for Wi-Fi to be discontinued worldwide, he warned: "It is going to affect future generations, and the time to act is now."
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