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Electromagnetic activists making waves

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Many school kids may no longer be walking under live wires, so to speak.

Many school kids may no longer be walking under live wires, so to speak. In a first-ever decision in Canada, BC’s 2,500 Parent Advisory Councils voted at their annual general meeting last May to put a moratorium on new cell towers near or on schools throughout the province. 

“This decision should set a precedent throughout Canada and the rest of the world,” says Milt Bowling, chair of Health Action Network Society’s electromagnetic Task Force, who has been involved in the issue. “If the health and well-being of our kids aren’t important, what is?”

Some scientists are concerned about exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMFs) from power lines, power transformers, and even household appliances. A seven-year study by the California Electric and Magnetic Fields Program found that health effects from EMFs include increased risk of childhood leukemia, adult brain cancer, Lou Gehrig’s disease, and miscarriage.

Despite this, Bowling says current federal regulations surrounding cell towers and the effects of EMFs are minimal and they do not address growing evidence on the nonthermal biological effects such as those listed above.
The Taskforce’s next step, he adds, is removing antennas already in the vicinity of schools and working to motivate initiatives in other provinces.

Microwaving menace?
That ever-present kitchen appliance—the microwave—is the subject of a new study suggesting modern convenience may come at an unexpected cost.
Spanish researchers recently found microwaving drastically reduces the nutritional value of broccoli. In their research, 97 per cent of flavonoids were destroyed; these health-promoting chemical substances, found in brightly coloured fruits and vegetables, are known to prevent and protect the body against heart disease, stroke, and cancer. Other beneficial plant chemicals were reduced at rates between 74 and 87 per cent.
All cooking breaks down the nutritional values of food to certain degrees. In the October 17, 2003 Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture study, microwaving was the worst depleter, followed by boiling, then pressure cooking. Light steaming of food maintained the highest nutritional value—a result consistent with other research.

In Canada, 91.3 per cent of households have a microwave oven, according to Statistics Canada, up more than two per cent from 1998 (88.5).
Although some researchers hold that microwaves remain safe food-preparation devices, the article “Microwaves: modern menace or miracle” (alive, July 2003, available at alive.com) provides an alternative, well-ducumented view.

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