19 December 2008

Electrosmog 2.0

The "no cellphone under the age of 12" advertising campaign recently launched by the city of Lyon is the first ever of this kind in France. Indeed, the telecommunications industry still is a flagship industry in France and RF safety -that is the effects on the human body and the environment of radiofrequency radiation- is not really a major concern today. As a result, independent research in the field do not get enough public funding (this is an understatement) and the government's rules regarding human exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields are laxists (another understatement;)

However, the topic is taking momentum amongst the scientific & medical communities and, as for other environmental related health issues (pesticides, food additives, chicken flue, nuclear safety, etc...) it will take some time to make the headlines, but it undoubtedly will... Why ?

Because even though there is still not enough evidence of their nocivity -equally due to the lack of hindsight and the lack of proper monitoring and funding- the effects of RF radiation on human tissues & the hormonal & nervous systems are obvious. The questions to answer are rather : when does it become nocive ? to what extent ? how can we best accomodate for it -at both individual and collective levels ?

Electrosmog (RF radiation exposure -I am not talking about the 50Hz electrical wires exposure here) has been around since radio broadcasting took off and has kept increasing ever since.

  • Eletrosmog 1.0 (radio & TV broadcasting) is characterized by high signal levels in the lower RF frequency range (below ~700MHz)

  • Electrosmog 2.0 (wireless networks) is characterized by low to medium pulsed signal levels in the higher frequency range (above ~700MHz up to ~6GHz)

Electrosmog 1.0 mainly goes through the body whereas Electrosmog 2.0 is mainly absorbed.

Today the top contributors to Electrosmog 2.0 in terms of intensity (at short distance) usally are the microwave oven (~900 or ~2400 MHz), the DECT corless phone (~1800 MHz), the cellphone (~900 & ~1800 MHz) and the wifi devices (~2400 MHz). But the top contributors in terms of exposure (duration/distance) are the GSM (~900 & ~1800 MHz) and UMTS (~2100 MHz) base stations antennas.
Radars (military & civil) are the biggest contributors -but are usually not directed toward the ground ;) whereas satellite communications systems are the smallest.

Finally, it is interesting to note that "natural" radiations (from the cosmos) at the frequencies stated above are almost nonexistent.