Dangers of cell tower/wi-fi radiation?

Get advice, tips, or help with science or religion debates that you are currently participating in.

Moderators: Alyrium Denryle, SCRawl, Thanas

User avatar
NoXion
Padawan Learner
Posts: 306
Joined: 2005-04-21 01:38am
Location: Perfidious Albion

Dangers of cell tower/wi-fi radiation?

Postby NoXion » 2013-07-27 02:30pm

In a Facebook group I'm a member of, someone has been posting stuff about the supposed dangers posed by the radio emissions of cell towers and such:

The Radiation Poisoning Of America article by Idaho Observer reporter: The untold story of how cell phone manufacturers created a way to fill every corner of our world with toxic radiation. "Prior to 1996, the wireless age was not coming online fast enough, primarily because communities had the authority to block the siting of cell towers. But the Federal Communications Act of 1996 made it nearly impossible for communities to stop construction of cell towers "even if they pose threats to public health and the environment. Since the decision to enter the age of wireless convenience was politically determined for us, we have forgotten well-documented safety and environmental concerns and, with a devil-may-care zeal that is lethally short-sighted, we have incorporated into our lives every wireless toy that comes on the market. We behave as if we are addicted to radiation. Our addiction to cell phones has led to harder "drugs" like wireless Internet. And now we are bathing in the radiation that our wireless enthusiasm has unleashed. Those who are addicted, uninformed, corporately biased and politically-influenced may dismiss our scientifically sound concerns about the apocalyptic hazards of wireless radiation. But we must not. Instead, we must sound the alarm." ttp://www.next-up.org/pdf/AmyWorthingto ... 112007.pdf


To which I replied:

The use of the world "radiation" in the original post is misleading, no doubt intended to evoke the fear of nuclear radiation. What the OP fails to mention is that radiation can be divided into two types, ionising and non-ionising.

Ionising radiation is the nasty stuff, because each photon of radiation has a high energy (measured in electronvolts) meaning it can damage DNA even in relatively small amounts. Ionising radiation includes the part of the electromagnetic spectrum that comprises gamma rays, x-rays and ultra-violet radiation, the last of which is what gives you sunburn.

Everything else is non-ionising, including visible light and the microwave-band emissions generated by that of mobile phone masts and wi-fi equipment. In fact, microwaves are at the opposite end of the spectrum to harmful gamma rays and x-rays, meaning that each photon of microwave radiation actually has *less* energy than even visible light, which sits between them on the spectrum.

What does this mean? It means that the only way that microwaves and other non-ionising radiation can damage organic tissues is through heating. So unless you're standing right in front of something like a military-grade radar emitter, you're good.

There are enough real problems in the world without adding additional one based on nothing more than a misunderstanding of basic physics.


She the then replied:

There are literally thousands of peer reviewed academic studies that show how toxic wireless radiation is. These have been patently stifled by the PR departments of trillion-dollar telecommunication corporations. Shades of the tobacco fiasco. See: http://www.EMRActionDay.org/science for the evidence.


To which I replied:

"There are literally thousands of peer reviewed academic studies that show how toxic wireless radiation is"

In that case it should be easy for you tell me exactly what physical mechanism lies behind this toxicity.


She then supplied this:

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/jcmm.12088/pdf

That paper reviews 24 different studies in which EMF exposures produce biological effects that can be blocked by using calcium channel blockers, drugs that block the action of voltage-gated calcium channels (VGCCs).


And now I am stumped, and yet I have the feeling that I'm being baffled by bullshit somehow. I've tried reading the supplied paper, but I can't really make sense of it. Does it really show there are grounds for concern?
Does it follow that I reject all authority? Perish the thought. In the matter of boots, I defer to the authority of the boot-maker - Mikhail Bakunin
Capital is reckless of the health or length of life of the laborer, unless under compulsion from society - Karl Marx
Pollution is nothing but the resources we are not harvesting. We allow them to disperse because we've been ignorant of their value - R. Buckminster Fuller
The important thing is not to be human but to be humane - Eliezer S. Yudkowsky


Nova Mundi, my laughable attempt at an original worldbuilding/gameplay project

User avatar
PainRack
Emperor's Hand
Posts: 7239
Joined: 2002-07-07 03:03am
Location: Singapura
Contact:

Re: Dangers of cell tower/wi-fi radiation?

Postby PainRack » 2013-09-27 06:00am

First, post the obligatory power lines don't cause cancer bit .

The US has spent the equivalent of one billion dollars by 1990 to research this link, despite more recent studies now suggesting a 'possible' correlation, there simply isn't enough evidence to suggest that power links do increase the risk of leukemia.

Then drive in the kicker. The radiation/EMF from high power lines is much larger than that from mobile phones. If power lines, electrical equipment doesn't cause cancer, the much more minute radiation from cell phones won't. Now, there is a difference, since inverse square law will tell that inverse square law will suggest that constant exposure to radiation, like say your mobile close to your crotch would make up the difference. But that aspect will allow you to shut down the cell tower/wireless signal aspect of the argument.
http://www.hpa.org.uk/Topics/Radiation/ ... ticFields/

The last bit is about numbers, how correlation doesn't equal causation and how virtually everything has been lumped as carciogenic.
The new studies are follow up of the original studies done since 1990 and the problem remains the same. You can find potential clusters in any population group.Is it statistically significant? Not all, but even for those that are, its just too diffuse to separate out any cases, to the extent that possibly 2 out of 500 cases may be caused by power lines.

The IARC classifies any carcinogen along this category.

Group 1: Carcinogenic to humans
Group 2A: Probably carcinogenic to humans
Group 2B: Possibly carcinogenic to humans
Group 3: Unclassifiable as to carcinogenicity in humans
Group 4: Probably not carcinogenic to humans

A common joke is how water is the only chemical placed in Group 4.
Mobile phones possibly causing glioma, a rare brain tumour falls under group 2B. Which is where virtually any other potential carcinogen falls under. Group 2B does NOT indicate that phones cause brain cancer. That classification is filed under the category "We need more funds to see if this is a potential carcinogen".

Glioma itself is even more likely to be due to chance, due to the rarity of the disease. Its entirely possible that the significance was due to chance, especially since there are other studies which don't show a link.

As long as the IARC/WHO/NTP doesn't put it as Group 2A and etc, there simply no point in investing effort about this. Any potential risk would be so small that its insiginificant. For example, the phones cause glioma means that its a potential 2 cases in increase.Taking that ONE singular study which bumped it into the 2B cat. That means increasing the risk of brain cancer, from 2 cases per 100,000, to 4 cases to 100,000.So, even if we ignore all other studies, that's only a potential 6 thousand increase in cancer cases and this is assuming that all 300 million subscribers in the US are exposed to enough radiation from mobile phone usuage to be affected.

Granted, all of this ignores the fact that phone radiation do affect the brain and metabolism but the potential risks are simply too small for any reasonable person to bother. Living in a naturally radioactive environment such as radon or even frequent jet travellers who might be exposed to higher doses of cosmic radiation is more significant.
Let him land on any Lyran world to taste firsthand the wrath of peace loving people thwarted by the myopic greed of a few miserly old farts- Katrina Steiner


Return to “Debating Help”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests