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Miscellaneous Green Files

Donâ??t Dial Cell for Safety A new report by a group of British scientists casts more doubt on the safety of cell phones. The 11-month study warns of the potential harms to younger cell phone users in particular.

Don’t Dial Cell for Safety
A new report by a group of British scientists casts more doubt on the safety of cell phones. The 11-month study warns of the potential harms to younger cell phone users in particular. Because their bodies are still developing, they are considered more at risk to possible "biological effects." Exposure to radiation may come from either individual handheld or hands-free units or base stations.

Britain’s National Radiological Protection Board first established guidelines on acceptable levels of radiation back in 1993, when cell phone technology was still in its infancy. Now, critics fear that the explosion of cellular use is moving too fast to ensure adequate safety measures. Over last year’s Christmas shopping season alone, about four million cell phones were sold in Britain, bringing the total number of mobiles in the country to more than 25 million. Here in Canada, there are about seven million cell phones in use.

Among its recommendations, the parliament-commissioned report calls for:


  • Public notification of potential health hazards of cell phones

  • Radiation emission levels from various cell phones to be made public

  • Not using cell phones while driving

  • Restricting cell phone use, especially for children

  • Public notification on locations of cell phone base towers

  • Restricted areas for tower use, including schools, residential areas and hospital

  • Long-term follow-up of workers occupationally exposed to RF radiation.



Milt Bowling of the Burnaby-based EMRadiation Task Force applauds the study’s cautious approach. "This report represents the first truly independent research project not affected by vested interests," says Bowling.

The full report is available online at iegmp.org.uk/IEGMPsum.htm. Milt Bowling can be reached at (604) 436-2152 or e-mail: miltbowling@telus.net.

Animal Farm Angst
Livestock factories commonly treat pigs, cattle and chicken with antibiotics to prevent animal disease and promote growth. About half of the antibiotics produced in the US are used in the raising of animals for human consumption.

The result of such overuse is a growing human health hazard: antibiotic-resistant bacteria that can cause deadly diseases. In May of 1999, a report by the Minnesota Health Department found that human infections by antibiotic-resistant germs increased almost eightfold between 1992 and 1997.

The Institute of Medicine, a division of the National Academy of Sciences, first reported this problem back in 1989.

Just 10 years later, in 1999, the US Food and Drug Administration announced its plan to start regulating the use of antibiotics in livestock factories. One can only speculate whether their tardy attempt to create guidelines came in response to a 1998 New England Journal of Medicine study which noted that a strain of salmonella bacteria had emerged that was resistant to five different antibiotics!
--Rachel’s Environment & Health Weekly, March 9, 2000

Toxic Moxy
US toxic pollution is three times worse than originally thought, according to the Environmental Protection Agency annual toxic inventory report. At the top of the polluters list stand the US mining and electric utility industries, who dumped a combined 4.6 billion pounds of toxic materials into the environment in 1998. Despite this astounding figure, the Edison Electric Institute, representing the nation’s shareholder-owned utilities, is quick to defend their interests by stating these chemicals are not a health hazard.
--Reuters Online, May 11, 2000

Labelling a Money Issue
During a seven-hour House of Commons debate last May, the federal government reiterated that the voluntary labelling of GE foods is better than a mandatory plan. The estimated cost of the mandatory labelling of GE foods would be $3 billion in the first year and $1.5 billion each year thereafter. This figure, quoted by BC MP Reed Elley, is not justification enough for denying shoppers the right to informed choice, especially when the majority of environmental and citizen groups call for full disclosure of GE ingredients. Maybe the billion-dollar price tag would be worth it if it restored some faith in Canada’s food safety system.
--The Western Producer, May 11, 2000

Pesticide Paradox
The House of Commons environmental committee recommended a ban in May on "cosmetic" use of pesticides for lawn and garden care. The committee’s five-year ban plan does not include chemical farm pesticides, but does propose tax incentives for organic farmers. It is their hope that this revision to the Pest Control Products Act will reduce needless exposure to harmful weed killers and insecticides. Accumulating evidence tells us children are especially vulnerable to pesticides, yet Canada’s pesticide law is 31 years old.
--The Vancouver Sun, May 17, 2000

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