Namibia: Cellphone Health Risks Debated

THE battle by a group of Windhoek residents to keep a MTC cellphone tower out of their neighbourhood was boosted this year when a number of reports on the potential health risks from cellphone radio frequencies were released.

The European Parliament in May decided that there is enough evidence “of potentially harmful effects of electromagnetic fields on fauna, flora and human health to react and guard against potentially serious environmental and health hazards”.

In line with this, a document on the potential dangers associated with cellphone usage and cellphone towers noted that while scientific and clinical proof is still lacking, European member states have to take precautionary measures.

“Waiting for high levels of scientific and clinical proof can lead to very high health and economic costs, as was the case in the past with asbestos, leaded petrol and tobacco,” the Parliament report states.

The report focused on protecting children from the potential harmful effects. The report said it is critical to alert parents, teachers and other of the “specific risks of early, ill-considered and prolonged use of mobiles and other devices emitting microwaves”.

It said preventative action is needed now, especially in regard to the anxieties and fears which remain in wide sectors of the population regarding the unknown health hazards that could be linked to the electromagnetic fields emitted from cellphones and cellphones towers.

European member states have been advised to ensure that their populations are exposed to as little as possible radio frequencies from mobile phones and cellphone towers.

Anita Brandt, one of several litigants who took on the cellphone giant MTC last year, pointed out in a letter this week that questions regarding cellphone usage and cellphone towers gained international traction, not only from the European Parliament report, but also from two World Health Organisation reports.

Brandt and a group of seven Klein Windhoek residents in December won a temporary court order barring MTC from putting up a cellphone tower on a hill in the Klein Windhoek area, until another case at the High Court is finalised.

Brandt listed a World Health Organisation (WHO) report which stated that radiation from cellphones could cause cancer. The WHO report listed cellphones in the same “carcinogenic hazard” category as lead, engine exhaust and chloroform, an international article on the WHO report stated.

Brandt wrote that the reports from respected international bodies is essential reading, especially for “skeptics who still claim that this is unscientific and scaremongering nonsense”.

She added that current safety guidelines for radio frequency emissions “were designed to protect only against short-term, immediate health effects. They do not protect against long-term biological responses of the body to permanent radio frequency pulsing”.

She said a debate on the issue was critical in Namibia.

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