Inquiry into 5G in Australia: Misinformation by whom?

Australia’s parliamentary inquiry into 5G, which was announced in September 2019 with submissions due at the beginning of November 2019, continues to trundle on.

Over 500 of the responses have now been published on the parliamentary website.  An overwhelming majority of these have raised concerns about the deployment of 5G technology.

The parliamentary committee charged with undertaking this inquiry held public hearings in Queensland and the ACT last year, followed by hearings in Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne and Sydney in February.  According to Parliament’s webpage on public hearings, witnesses are called to a hearing so that the committee “can hear from people who have experience or expertise that is relevant to the committee’s inquiry”.

Given that the lion’s share of submissions highlighted evidence of potential harm as a result of the rollout of 5G, and the authors of the submissions included a number of highly credentialled members of the public, why has the committee chosen to instead hear, in the main, from 5G proponents?

Analysis of time allocated at hearings shows that telecommunications companies and other supporters of 5G have been granted a staggering 91% of timeslots.  To add insult to injury, witnesses who have refused to jump on the 5G bandwagon were shunted into giving evidence at public hearings located in cities other than their own, even when there was a nearby hearing scheduled.  This is grossly unfair – obviously being able to present in person beats having to participate by teleconference.

Although the volume of submissions meant that some submitters waited a number of months for their submissions to be published on the parliamentary website, to the committee’s credit, it is also evident that late responses were accepted.  Steve Weller, author of submission 530, and current executive team member of the Oceania Radiofrequency Scientific Advisory Association, used this opportunity to rebut pro-industry spin contained in earlier responses.

Preposterous claims, such as that made in Vodafone Hutchison’s submission, which states that “Australia has some of the most comprehensive and stringent radio frequency safety and electromagnetic energy (EME) compliance requirements in the developed world” are called out in an appendix to the submission.

Surely the millions being spent by the government to build public confidence in the safety of telecommunications and 5G, and to address ‘misinformation’ about electromagnetic emissions, would be better spent confronting the reality that wireless technologies are harmful to health?

The engineers responsible for a paper entitled “Electromagnetic Radiation due to Cellular, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth technologies: How safe are we?”, which has been accepted for publication in a future issue of IEEE Access, a scientific journal published by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, contend that “Both individuals and governments must be aware of the fact that the current population has already been exposed to dangerous levels of radiation and the resulting adverse health effects may surface in people at any time”.  The point is made that “Without thorough research and well-designed safety measures in place, wide-spread deployment of 5G networks could prove to be dangerous” (SSMA emphasis).

Scientists have been sounding urgent warnings regarding ubiquitous and increasing exposure to electromagnetic fields for decades.  Medical practitioners are coming face to face with the consequences.  Engineers are now recognising that wireless technologies must be avoided as much as possible and urging us to instead favour “new and innovative wired solutions which provide the same level of user-friendliness”.

In light of this groundswell of awareness, how much longer can the Australian Government continue to aid and abet wireless industry interests?

 Stop Smart Meters Australia’s submission to the inquiry into 5G can be viewed here.

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German Federal Office for Radiation Protection calls for more research on influence of electromagnetic fields on plants and animals

Further to an international workshop on environmental effects of electric, magnetic and electromagnetic fields on flora and fauna, Germany’s Office for Radiation Protection (BfS) says that “there is still a considerable need for research”.

The workshop, which was organised by the BfS, took place in Munich at the beginning of November 2019.

The BfS’s press release says the findings of the workshop are particularly important in light of the ongoing expansion of electricity grids and the introduction of 5G.  Although the BfS reported “Overall, the studies presented in the workshop support the current state of knowledge that there is no evidence of harmful effects on plants or animals caused by high-frequency electromagnetic fields below the applicable limit values”, it added that “there are isolated indications that radiofrequency fields may influence insects.  In a field study, for example, changes in the frequency and biodiversity of pollinators near base stations were observed”.

The BfS went on to say “it is conceivable that the higher frequencies that may be used in a few years’ time could increase the energy absorption of insects”.  Plants could also be affected.  Although the BfS cautions that the results here were partly contradictory, it reported “under laboratory conditions, high-frequency fields can trigger a stress reaction and influence growth” (SSMA emphases).

The Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) had a representative at the international workshop.  Dr Ken Karipidis, ARPANSA’s Assistant Director of Assessment and Advice, attended.

Dr Karipidis, however, appears to have come back with a somewhat different take-home message.  ARPANSA’s write-up of the workshop says  “Studies that have been conducted in the natural environment generally report little or no evidence of impact on plants or animals”.  No coverage is given to the studies that do show effects.

As pointed out by Attorney-at-law Christian Jensen in this post, research that shows effects is “inherently of much greater significance than examinations which have been incapable of identifying a damage or risk thereof, since the latter group does not in itself exclude the possibility that there exist real damage or risks”.

SSMA wonders if Dr Karipidis attended the international workshop session titled “Radiofrequency radiation injures trees around mobile phone base stations“, presented by Dr Cornelia Waldmann-Selsam.  The paper of the same title found “a high level of damage to trees in the vicinity of phone masts”.  Two pictorial examples from the study are available here.  An overview of the data from the study is available here.

ARPANSA’s report on the workshop concludes that “ARPANSA will continue to evaluate relevant research as it becomes available, working with international counterparts to ensure ongoing review of scientific evidence related to radiation and both public and environmental health”.  This statement is hardly reassuring, given its past performance.

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Tower of terror: Father accuses NBN of “assault”

According to an article published in the Sunshine Coast Daily, a father living in fear of an NBN tower near his home has taken the telco giant to court in a bid to stop them from switching it on, with claims the health impacts would be so severe he would end up homeless.

News reporter Amber Hooker states that Barrister Raymond Broomhall told Maroochydore Civil Court two doctors had diagnosed his client David Evans of Peachester [Queensland] with electromagnetic hypersensitivity, which would be exacerbated by the tower’s emissions to the point his home would be “uninhabitable”.

A GoFundMe appeal has been set up to request financial contributions to fund and support the legal process.  The first court hearing was held on 19 December 2019 with the next court date set down for 23 January 2020.

Mr Evans writes in his fundraiser that he is a qualified high voltage electrician.  He has several decades of experience in working with the technical complexities associated with electricity, electromagnetic fields and radiation, including managing the many associated risks.

He is seeking to protect his family, home, neighbours, community and himself from the tower’s artificial electromagnetic radiation fields.

To access the David v. NBN Co GoFundMe appeal, and to make a donation, go to:
https://www.gofundme.com/f/david-v-nbnco-a-david-amp-goliath-battle-peachester?member=&utm_medium=email&utm_source=customer&utm_campaign=p_email%2B invitesupporters

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Federal Government announces $9 million splurge to ‘build public confidence” in 5G safety

In an astonishing move, given that an Inquiry into 5G in Australia is currently underway, a joint media release from the Hon Paul Fletcher MP, Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts and Senator the Hon Richard Colbeck, who has portfolio responsibility for the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA), has proclaimed that the Morrison Government will be spending $9 million over four years to build public confidence in the safety of telecommunications networks – including new 5G mobile networks – and to address “misinformation” about electromagnetic energy (EME) emissions.

Does this largesse smack of a government in panic mode?  Certainly, its failure to observe due process, by pre-empting the findings of the inquiry into 5G, suggests that the inquiry is a sham.

The parliamentary webpage for the 5G inquiry reveals that over 400 submissions were received by the committee responsible for inquiring into the deployment, adoption and application of 5G in Australia.  The vast majority of these submissions have raised issues related to health.  An impressive body of credible scientific evidence supporting the need for a precautionary approach was referenced by submitters as well as many personal accounts of the harm that has already occurred due to exposure to EMF.

Despite this, to-date, the Committee has not heard from a single scientific witness who might substantiate the community’s insistence on an unbiased assessment of the current science.  Instead, with Through the Looking Glass logic, the Committee has chosen to reaffirm its belief in this “wonderful technology”, as the Chairman described it in its 6 December 2019 public hearing, by taking advice on health from organisations with vested interests, such as Telstra and the Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association.

For instance, in its 19 November 2019 public hearing, the Chair moved “that we accept the new ICNIRP radio frequency guidelines and their implications for 5G, which were so kindly announced by the WHO and provided to us by Telstra”.  Never mind that Telstra provided the Committee with a garbled – and highly biased – account of how safety standards are set by “national and international health agencies”.

As this paper, published in the International Journal of Oncology, makes abundantly clear, the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP), which ARPANSA chooses to take its direction from, is a private organisation based in Germany with strong ties to industry.  It is a closed group, and only allows new expert members to be elected by existing members.  Not surprisingly, ICNIRP has seen fit to ignore the vast body of scientific studies attesting to non-thermal biological effects. ICNIRP has also successfully penetrated the World Health Organization, via the WHO International EMF Project.

Facts such as these, however, are unlikely to come to the Chair’s notice, given his eagerness to accept industry spin.  At the Committee’s 6 December 2019 hearing, in response to an explanation about 5G from the Chief Executive of the Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association, Hansard records the Chair as saying, “Just so that everyone’s left in no doubt, I was really pleased that you said it was totally safe”.

In addition to taxpayers’ funds being allocated to EME “public education”, part of the $9 million kitty is to be provided to ARPANSA for “continued research on radio frequency safety”. 

SSMA hopes that this funding might allow ARPANSA to lift the bar; many of its previous research efforts have fallen woefully short of what the community expects from the Australian Government’s primary authority on radiation protection.

For instance, its Technical Report Series No. 163, titled ARPANSA Preliminary Measurements of Radiofrequency Transmissions from a Mesh Radio Smart Meter, which was authored by ARPANSA staffers Don Wijayasinghe and Ken Karipidis, provided details on emissions from a single (!) mesh smart meter.  Given the characteristics of mesh network topology, this study-of-one gave rise to conclusions akin to those reached in the Blind Men and an Elephant parable.  By contrast, Total Radiation Solutions’ 2015  report, Quantifying Smart Meter RF EME Levels in Victorian Homes, which had included 32 mesh smart meters in its study, shines a light on the variance across meters (for instance, refer to pp. 21 and 80 of the report).

Analysis in ARPANSA’s Technical Report Series No. 164, Review of Radiofrequency Health Effects Research – Scientific Literature 2000-2012, which came to the convenient conclusion that ARPANSA’s 2002 standard continues to provide adequate protection, appeared similarly lacking in rigour.

A recent study that failed to find a link between the use of mobile phones and brain cancer, which lists ARPANSA’s Ken Karipidis as the lead author, is equally tainted.

A reply to SSMA from a spokesperson for the Hon Paul Fletcher MP, Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts, dated 15 July 2019 informed SSMA that “the ACMA and ARPANSA are independent statutory agencies and are not influenced or controlled by the telecommunications industry”.  On the face of it, nothing could be further from the truth!  Instead, it would seem that our Government is so closely aligned with industry interests, similarly to the situation in the U.S., that it lacks the perspective to see that it is held captive by the very bodies that it seeks to regulate.

SSMA was also assured “that revenue maximisation is not an objective of the Radiocommunications Act 1992 (known as the ‘objects’ of the Act), and the ACMA does not seek to maximise revenues collected at auctions. Instead, as per the objects of the Act, the ACMA seeks to maximise the overall public benefit derived from using the radiofrequency spectrum”.

If this is the case, why has the deployment of 5G and the encouragement to drive more Australians towards wireless solutions not been subjected to rigorous cost-benefit analysis?  At a minimum, this should include an assessment of the increased burden to the community as a result of more people developing electro-hypersensitivity and escalating cases of cancer, including brain cancer, in addition to looking at factors such as the massive pressure on electricity supply that the uptake of 5G and the IoT is forecasted to create.

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A snapshot of living with Environmental Sensitivities in Australia in 2019

Dr Sharyn Martin’s latest report meticulously analyses data collected from people who have registered their environmental sensitivities with the Australian National Register for Environmental Sensitivities (ANRES).  Environmental Sensitivities (ES) describes a variety of reactions to chemicals, electromagnetic fields and other environmental factors.

ANRES’s goal is to create an independent national register that provides Australian prevalence data on environmental sensitivities, to assist in gaining recognition of ES as a disability and facilitate moving forward with issues such as access to medical and disability services.  Statistics are needed for reform, particularly at a political level, and provide an essential first step in gaining recognition of environmental sensitivities.

Section 1.0 of the report’s introduction states that:

“The results from the ANRES register shows that people with Environmental Sensitivities have a number of co-morbid diseases and have significant hardships and disabilities that occur in all aspects of their lives. These disabilities are, apart from ill health symptoms, an inability to earn an income, inability to find safe and affordable housing, inability to socialise and function in society particularly in public areas where chemicals and EMFs are prevalent.

For those with Environmental Sensitivity institutional denial and stigma have become a barrier to medical care, employment, education etc. This is a major ongoing and developing crisis for those with these conditions. These conditions lead to a reduced quality of life and often result in a loss of employment and consequent poverty, possible homelessness, isolation and exclusion from society.

The lack of consensus amongst the medical profession on the diagnostic criteria for these conditions means that many people do not have a diagnosis and so their condition/s are not included in health surveys or hospital records and therefore there is no evidence of their presence in the community. Environmental Sensitivities have far reaching implications if left undiagnosed and untreated. It not only affects the health of the individual, it also affects that person’s lifestyle, family situation, financial situation, ability to socialise, ability to support oneself or family, and their ability to access and utilise facilities such as hospitals, schools, libraries, shopping centres, health care facilities etc. Add to this is the millions of dollars in lost productivity to society.

Many people are suffering hardships and continue to be ignored because there is no evidence that they exist, and there are people in the community with symptoms of these conditions who are not diagnosed and do not know what is causing their chronic ill health and continue to be exposed to triggers and develop more sensitivity.

The Australian National Register for Environmental Sensitivities (ANRES) want to show the Australian Government, employees and Health Services that there are Australians from all around the country suffering from these conditions. We need Environmental Sensitivities to be recognised as a disability and facilitate moving forward with issues such as access to medical and disability services for people with Environmental Sensitivities.”

To access the 27-page report, go to https://anres.org/2019-anres-data-update/

If you would like to join ANRES, in order to register your sensitivities on the ANRES register and therefore contribute to this important project, go to https://anres.org/   Note that persons who register on this site are not individually identified.

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Why aren’t more climate change activists fighting 5G?

While most climate change activists are focused on limiting emissions from the automotive, aviation and energy sectors, it’s the communications industry that is on track to generate more carbon emissions than all of the aforementioned sectors.

In 2016, it was reported that the world’s data centres used more than Britain’s total electricity consumption – 416.2 terawatt hours, significantly higher than the UK’s 300 terawatt hours. At three percent of the global electricity supply and accounting for about two percent of total greenhouse gas emissions, data centres have the same carbon footprint as the aviation industry.

Recent predictions state that the energy consumption of data centres is set to account for 3.2 percent of the total worldwide carbon emissions by 2025 and they could consume no less than a fifth of global electricity [SSMA emphasis]. By 2040, storing digital data is set to create 14 percent of the world’s emissions, around the same proportion as the US does today.

Current statistics show that only half of the world’s population is connected to the internet and therefore contributing to this data deluge. Despite this, IDC noted that the number of data centres worldwide has grown from 500,000 in 2012 to more than 8 million today. The amount of energy used by data centres continues to double every four years, meaning they have the fastest-growing carbon footprint of any area within the IT sector.

The launch of 5G, the new wave of IoT devices, and a thriving cryptocurrency scene will only compound the problem. As more devices become connected more data will need to be processed than ever before.

Abridged from Computerworld: Why data centres are the new frontier in the fight against climate change by Charlotte Trueman.

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Science and Wireless 2019 | Monday, 2nd December

The Australian Centre for Electromagnetic Bioeffects Research and Swinburne University of Technology are hosting this year’s Science and Wireless at Swinburne University, Melbourne.

The event is free, but registration is required.  Note that attendees with questions for the Public Forum have been asked to submit these in advance.

The event organisers write:

“Hear from world experts on the new 5th generation of mobile communication technology (5G), as well as the new ICNIRP guidelines on limiting electromagnetic fields.

This year’s event is divided into two parts:
Technical Lecture: ICNIRP GUIDELINES
Public Forum: EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT 5G

Note that the technical nature of the presentation in ‘Part 1’ will make it more suitable for professionals working in the area, but anyone is welcome to attend. The ‘Part 2’ presentations have been tailored to those who do not have background knowledge in this area. In both cases, there will be plenty of time allocated to answer any questions that you may have.

Part 1: Technical Lecture – ICNIRP Guidelines
From 4:10 pm a technical lecture will focus on the ‘New ICNIRP Guidelines for Limiting Exposure to Electromagnetic Fields (100 kHz to 300 GHz)’ presented by Rodney Croft (ICNIRP Radiofrequency Guidelines Chair; ACEBR, University of Wollongong), followed by a discussion.
WHEN: Monday 2nd December 2019, 4:10 – 5:15pm (registration from 3:45)
WHERE: Lecture Theatre BA201 (ground floor), Business & Arts Building, Swinburne University of Technology, John St, Hawthorn VIC 3122

Part 2: Public Forum – Everything You Need to Know About 5G
From 6 pm the public forum ‘Everything You Need to Know About 5G’ will cover: What is 5G? / What research has been done on 5G? / Will 5G lead to higher exposures? / Is 5G harmful? / What do we know about mobile phones and cancer? / Can I be allergic or sensitive to mobile phone radiation? / Do national and international safety guidelines cover 5G? / What are the benefits of 5G?
WHEN: Monday 2nd December 2019, 6:00 – 8:00pm (welcome and registration from 5:30pm)
WHERE: Lecture Theatre BA201 (ground floor), Business & Arts Building, Swinburne University of Technology, John St, Hawthorn VIC 3122

Questions at the Public Forum: There will be lots of time for questions at the Public Forum, but please note that questions will need to be submitted in advance to enable us to cover as many issues as possible. Further information about this is provided in the registration process.

How to Register: Depending on whether you’d like to attend one or both events, please go to one of the following links to register:

Part 1: Technical Lecture – ICNIRP Guidelines

Part 2: Public Forum – Everything You Need to Know About 5G

For both parts

If you have any questions please feel free to contact us at acebr-info@uow.edu.au

We look forward to seeing you in Melbourne!

Kind regards

ACEBR & Swinburne University”

Science and Wireless Program 
Swinburne Campus Map 

 

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