TUNING OUT NON-IONIZING RADIATION AND PUBLIC HEALTH/SAFETY HAZARDS
Growing evidence that long wave non-ionizing radiation used in
electromagnetic devices, microwave products, and TV/radio systems is
harmful to the public's health, hazardous to effective public safety
systems, and threatening to military security went largely unreported
by America's media in 1987. Also underreported were the related
issues of the Environmental Protection Agency's shut-down of its
funded programs to study non-ionizing radiation in light of a 1989
deadline to establish safety standards for public exposure to radio
frequencies, and, the lawsuit brought against the Reagan
administration by a coalition of plaintiffs who charge that the
administration has violated the National Enviromental Policy act by
not adequately protecting the public and environment from the "Hazard
of Electromagnetic Radiation to Ordnance" (HERO).
Studies that suggest links between electromagetic fields (such as
those produced by overhead power lines, broadcast towers, military
hardware, hairdryers, microwave ovens, computers, TV and two-way
radios, and radar), and cellular mutation, cancer, and childhood
leukemia have received little attention. University of North Carolina
epidemiologist David Savitz confirmed earlier reports about the
apparent public health hazard. Savitz emphasized the need for further
research and more federal funding to determine the extent of this
potential health risk. Fifteen of 17 occupational studies have
established links between exposure to low frequency electromagnetic
fields and cancer. Despite this mounting evidence, the EPA shut down
its program to study non-ionizing radiation which is supposed to set
acceptable levels of exposure for humans and the environment by 1989.
Meanwhile, total federal funding to study the health effects of low
frequency fields has dropped from $10 million to just $2.5 million.
A coalition of Pentagon watchdog organizations and individuals
has brought suit against the government charging Reagan administration
officials with willful negligence in protecting the public from the
HERO effect. Though the Navy and Army have been aware, for some 33
years, of the hazard that electromagnetism poses to weapon systems,
the Pentagon has acknowledged very little about the hazards that
accidental explosions caused by various electromagnetic sources pose
to public and environmental safety. The plaintiffs cite five specific
HERO related accidents, including the 1967 explosion on board the USS
Forrestal which claimed 134 lives, along with a possible 25 other HERO
related accidents that have occurred over the past 25 k;years.
Finally, in a continuing conflict related to the issue of
electromagnetic radiation and its effects on public safety and health,
radar specialist veterans have been filing health claims, related to
their exposrue to low frequency radiation, against the Veterans
Administration. All claims to date have been rejected.
With such a newsworthy issue as the effects of electromagnetic
radiation on public health and safety so clearly being played out
during 1987, the news media, for the most part, failed to tune in.
SOURCES: KQED-TV 9, "EXPRESS," 12/9/87, "Radiation Risk?," by
David Helvarg; RECON, Vol. 10, #4, January 1988, "HERO: Deadly Game of
Roulette," by Patricia Axelrod, pp 1,2,8.