Call an end to phone masts
ONE of the easiest ways to become a hypocrite or sign up for a bit of good old-fashioned nimbyism is to moan about mobile phone masts. The vast majority of us shudder at the thought of having a mast near our home, workplace or children s school, but there
ONE of the easiest ways to become a hypocrite or sign up for a bit of good old-fashioned nimbyism is to moan about mobile phone masts.
The vast majority of us shudder at the thought of having a mast near our home, workplace or children's school, but there's very few of us who don't have a phone in our handbag or pocket.
For the record, I count myself in this number.
The Government's current position on masts is based on the Stewart report from 2000 which claimed that there "is no general risk to the health of people living near base stations" (ie anything with a mobile antenna attached).
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But the reason masts do bring out the hypocrite in us is that while we enjoy advances in technology, experience tells us we should be suspicious.
Asbestos seemed like a great improvement in insulation and fireproofing when it was first used, until everyone realised that it could cause cancer.
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DDT was hailed as a miracle insecticide until it dawned on the world that it would get into the food chain and be harmful to humans as well as other animals.
Mobile phones have brought about a revolution in communication but at the moment I don't see how we can be 100 per cent sure they are safe - regrettably any certainty either way will probably only come with time.
For now, the official position seems to be seeing as we don't know for sure they're bad, we'll take the risk.
Masts are cropping up all over the place, including just recently in the grounds of Wyevale Garden Centre in Hitchin.
Two 'cypress tree' masts have been installed, with planning permission, in the vicinity of two schools.
Which seems to be OK, because officially they're not dangerous.
But in Germany doctors have found that electromagnetic fields such as those from phone antennae can cause symptoms including headaches, tiredness, inability to concentrate and dizziness.
Closer to home, a couple in Sussex both developed breast cancer after moving into a house which has a mast just 20ft away.
A Dr Michael Clark from the Health Protection Agency was quoted in a national newspaper as saying that there is "no hard scientific evidence linking radio waves to breast cancer or any other type of cancer".
But there are only between 200 and 300 cases of breast cancer in men in the UK each year.
Add that to the fact the man's wife had the same illness and try not to link it to the 60ft mast next to their house.
The Stewart report was six years ago and mobile phones continue to become increasingly popular. Demand for new masts will surely only increase.
If we're willing to plonk masts near schools I think it's about time the evidence was reviewed so we can be absolutely sure we're not doing ourselves or our children any long-term harm.