Back in 1996….
- Tim Berners-Lee’s internet had only been in existence for five years.
- Mobile phones were the size of telephone directories with long aerials and only used by the super avant garde.
- Amazon had been incorporated only two years earlier. Alexa was not yet even a twinkle in Jeff Bezos’ eye.
- Clouds were still fluffy things in the sky, not repositories of everything that we need to get through each day.
- Tweeting was something that birds did and Mark Zuckerberg was still in high school.
And in 1996 guidelines were drawn up by the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for safety limits for human exposure to the wireless radiation that would power this new world. So far, so good.
The problem is that despite the mind blowing expansion in our on line lives – 3G, 4G and now 5G, Wifi, video streaming, cloud storage – all powered by wireless radiation – the FCC’s 1996 regulations on safety limits for human exposure to wireless radiation have never been updated.
Not one of the thousands of studies into the enormous increase in the manmade electromagnetic radiation to which we have been subjected (without being asked, be it noted) has been used to assess the effects, positive or negative, that it has had on humans, on animals or on plants.
In Europe and elsewhere in the world matters are slightly less antiquated, but most guidance dates from between 1998 and 2011 – still ten years out of date. Light years when compared with the speed with which the technology is developing.
With this background in mind one can understand why electrosensitivity campaigners are delighted by a recent decision in United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. The court has declared that the Federal Communications Commission, the FCC, had failed to provide a reasonable explanation for why it had refused to consider the mass of evidence of harm produced by the campaigners. Moreover that the FCC’s decision to retain its 1996 safety limits for human exposure to wireless radiation was “arbitrary and capricious.”
The campaign had been led by the Environmental Health Trust, a scientific nonprofit organisation that has worked on wireless radiation and health for a decade. However, while celebrating their victory the trust are acutely conscious that they need to move forward if they are to dent the roll out of 5G and refocus resources on providing universal access to wired rather than wireless technology.
No one, including all the campaigning groups, denies that universal connectivity has brought extraordinary benefits to all levels of society world wide (along, obviously, with significant evils). But we need to access those benefits with compromising our own health and that of the planet; all too many of those thousands of studies suggest that that is exactly what we are currently doing. With less reliance on wireless and more reliance on wired connectivity we could dramatically reduce those risks while improving the reliability of our service. OK – so maybe we would not be able to turn on our baths from the end of the street – but is that really such a hardship to endure when compared with our children’s health?
As Devra Davies, the EHT’s president says:
“If cell phones were a drug they would have been banned years ago. 5G would never have been allowed to market. An ever mounting body of published studies — ignored by the FCC — clearly indicates that exposure to wireless radiation can lead to numerous health effects, especially for children. Research indicates wireless radiation increases cancer risk, damages memory, alters brain development, impacts reproductive health, and much more.”