WDDTY has already covered the dangers of mobile-phone technology (vol 15 no 5) as well as the issue of sensitivity to electric fields in general (vol 16 no 1). But the latest worry is the greater potential problem of the new wireless gadgetry now being brought into our lives—both at home, at work and everywhere we look.
Suddenly, the whole world seems to be going wireless. It started with mobile phones, then landline phones went wireless, and now broadband, laptops and bluetooth devices are following suit. We’re told it’s inevitable by the electronics industry. But has it considered the potential health hazards—or for that matter, have we?
“Day by day, I hear of more and more microwave applications, all of which are increasing the electro-smog that surrounds us,” says Alasdair Philips of the UK health-lobby group Powerwatch.
One telling piece of evidence for this is what happened to wireless car keys. Since remote car keys first came on the scene about 10 years ago, manufacturers have had to increase their power output by a massive 40 times to enable the signal to cut through the increasingly dense microwave smog around us, says Philips.
The other evidence is that microwave pollution can affect some people badly. Two years ago, Sarah Dacre was a successful high-powered executive, running a 70-strong TV production company, until she was struck down by a host of debilitating symptoms, including dizziness, loss of balance, chronic Candida, numbness in the arms, side and legs, and deteriorating eyesight. After months of false diagnoses--and in a state of near-total collapse--Sarah finally found the answer. “At the office, I was working all day with a laptop on my knees, and constantly using either a cordless phone or a mobile. One of the clues to what was causing the problem was that my symptoms were mainly right-sided--where I held the phones. I now can’t go anywhere near a computer or mobile phone without extreme care”.
Another sufferer is 35-year-old Roy Warne, who had to give up his job as a furniture salesman after his company installed a new wireless computer system. Now unable to work, he can’t get anywhere near his own laptop. “When I want to use the computer, I have it on in one room and sit in the hallway looking at the screen through binoculars,” he says.
Norway’s first female Prime Minister, and later Director-General of the World Health Organization, 65-year-old Gro Harlem Brundtland first suffered headaches from mobile phones, but now she finds that cordless phones and laptops cause her even worse problems. “If I hold a laptop to read what’s on the screen, it feels like I get an electric shock through my arms,” she says, “and I get an instant reaction if I touch a cordless phone.”
Although much of the evidence so far is anecdotal, even the official UK Health Protection Agency (incorporating the cautious National Radiological Protection Board) has acknowledged in a 45-page report (November 2005) that electrosensitivity (ES) is a genuine health condition. One convincing argument is that everyone reports the same cluster of neurological and physiological problems.
Nevertheless, the medical profession has tended to ignore ES sufferers, aided and abetted by an electronics industry anxious to protect its patch. That’s why most of the clinical evidence on wireless technology has come from case histories collected by a burgeoning number of self-help and lobby groups both in the UK and across the globe.