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Why is it So Difficult to Make a Decision? August 10, 2006

Posted by healthyself in Blogroll, Cell phone industry, Cell phone safety, Cell phone towers, Electromagnetic pollution, Electrosensitivity, ELF, EMF Research, EMF's, Employees, EMR, Environment, Government's role, Health related, heat, Legal Issues, Lifestyle, mobile telephones, radiation, Research.

“The debate over the possible health effects from the radio waves used by cellular telephone and other mobile communications systems is intensely polarized. On one side, some citizens and a few researchers are firmly convinced that such radio waves pose a substantial health risk to public health… On the other side, equipment manufacturers and service providers maintain that there is no credible evidence that their products and services threaten human health…. Both sides have evidence–scientific studies, statistical records, and anecdotal reports–they believe supports their case….In disputes like this, identifying and evaluating risk to the public is often difficult….

…In situations where individuals cannot avoid exposure–as in the case of radio waves–it is the role of government through the regulatory and policy process to decide what level of risk is acceptable and to enact the necessary provisions to protect public health….

The first step in assessing this type of risk is establishing causality–what effects are due to what causes, and how certain is the relationship between them. ….High-power microwave radiation, for example, is known to produce thermal effects (heating), but the possible nonthermal effects of radio waves, which include changes in cell membrane permeability, cell metabolism, or on genetic material, are more contentious….

..The second element in assessing risk is demonstrating harm from the effects. Even if a cause and an effect can be positively linked, this does not necessarily mean that harm results….Heating effects have been shown to cause adverse health reactions, but not at the low power levels used by today’s cellular telephones. Determining harm is more difficult with nonthermal effects– which might affect basic cell functions that are only now beginning to be understood–and will be the subject of long debate….

…some people will view any biological effects as harmful, whether or not there are any actual impacts on health. Fundamentally, an assessment of risk and one’s reaction to it is quite subjective and personal….

In trying to evaluate the possible harm from radio communication systems, different groups disagree over what standards of proof should be used to determine safety or harm–that is, what proof is adequate to prove or disprove potential adverse health effects. One view requires proof of no harm before a technology is deployed….

…An alternative approach is to permit a technology to be deployed, under certain guidelines, until it can be shown convincingly that negative effects result, or no proof of harm (note word order difference from above)….

Most technologies fall somewhere between these two positions: initial experimentation is extremely limited in scale and scope, often confined solely to the laboratory….

…With technologies or products such as asbestos, lead paint, or tobacco that come to be seen as hazardous, the firms that manufacture them have, in many cases, successfully resisted efforts to label them as bad for health, despite steadily mounting evidence to the contrary.

Another issue in determining harm is the integrity of the process by which research is conducted, including that of the people performing the work….

…In the face of inconclusive and ambiguous evidence, different groups have different reactions. Opponents of widespread deployment of cellular and PCS facilities, and those claiming that cellular telephones promote cancer, argue that the industry should be held to the “proof of no harm” test….

…Faced with a technical and policy controversy such as this, policymakers have difficult choices to make. If a technology is already being widely used, as is the case with many wireless technologies, using a “proof of no harm” standard is unrealistic. Television broadcasting towers, public safety radios, cellular towers and antennas, and hand-held cellular telephones have been deployed for years, and are used by tens of millions of people. Stopping these systems until definitive testing can be done is not realistic in today’s political climate. However, finding out about possible harm through monitoring and active research is a viable option. Identifying early indications of effects or harm is in the public interest, even if short-term costs are high. Research to determine cause-and-effect relationships, and to ascertain the extent to which and under what circumstances harm may ensue, is essential. Some researchers also suggest that those concerned about possible hazards from electromagnetic radiation practice “prudent avoidance,” which is avoidance of emissions where it is economically, operationally or physically easy to do so.”



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