THE affects of cellphone masts on the immediate environment is under the spotlight once again. Residents living in proximity to a mast that has been erected in Rick Turner Road raised the alarm after they became aware of symptoms they believe could be attributed to the electromagnetic waves emitted by the mast which was switched on in December.
Resident, Andre van Rooyen, said he has always been sensitive to electromagnetic waves and in early December started to show specific symptoms which he eventually realised he had been exhibiting since the mast started transmitting.
“I really was not feeling myself and was feeling exhausted at night. Usually I work until about 11pm on paperwork, but by 9pm I was asleep on the couch in front of the TV. I was then having restless nights, waking up at 2am and feeling exhausted in the morning. I also noticed my wife was tossing and turning in her sleep. We were also arguing a lot and my wife was experiencing lower back pain and unexplained weight gain,” he said.
After speaking to other residents in the neighbourhood, van Rooyen realised he was not the only one experiencing similar symptoms as neighbours confirmed they were experiencing the same thing.
“I spoke to a woman living over the road who said she had also gained a lot of weight and said her hormone levels had also increased. My wife went to the doctor and a test confirmed her hormone levels had gone stupid! Another resident said her hands had started swelling, and those people who were usually home during the day said all they did was sleep, as they felt so run down,” he said. Van Rooyen said it all became apparent after he went to the Transkei on holiday in December, and had felt perfectly fine again, and his sleep patterns returned to normal while he was away.
It was not only Van Rooyen and his wife who exhibited unusual behaviour and symptoms, Van Rooyen added that his dogs had also started to act strangely one dog, a maltese poodle which had always had a good temperament had suddenly become noticeably agitated.
“My son’s dog is his best friend, but the dog bit him recently, and when my friend visited with his daughter, the dog bit her. I noticed our dogs were also off their food and my neighbour’s dog also stopped eating,” he said.
Once the pieces of the puzzle started to fall together in Van Rooyen’s mind, he went down to the mast and confirmed with a technician on site that the mast was transmitting to a dish on the top of the Pastoral Centre nearby. He mapped the transmission in a straight line over the residential properties to the centre. What he noticed was that the tops of the trees, which fell in the line of the transmission, were all dying. Investigating further, Van Rooyen said after making enquiries with residents living on properties which fell in line with the transmission they all confirmed they were being affected in some way while those living on properties effectively blocked by other houses or situated on the periphery of the transmission, showed no signs of being affected.
When the mast caught fire towards the end of December and had to be switched off, Van Rooyen said residents noted that they no longer exhibited the symptoms and even their pets had returned to normal and were eating again.
Another resident, an educational psychologist, Sylvia Shepherd, said: “I cannot tell you how terrible you feel. They are beaming this transmission straight at us – we are in the direct line of this. You can absolutely tell the mast is not working at the moment. Radiation from these masts stops the functioning of the lymphatics system which affects the glands, and this is probably why residents have started to gain weight. The effects of this is so much greater for children than adults, as their skulls are thinner. That is why in the UK they don’t allow masts in close proximity to schools. In articles on the internet, doctors have stated categorically that there will be an impact on children, and that is why they have taken this problem so seriously in Europe. I am concerned as there are so many schools nearby.”
Shepherd said, as far as she was aware, this was the first time a mast had transmitted so low in a suburb, that it was being beamed at homes.
“There have to be by-laws to protect us from this. This has been foisted upon us, we were given no opportunity to object and as ratepayers, the municipality works for us. It is unacceptable that these masts are so close to houses and schools,” she said.
Van Rooyen said he had approached a technician from a local cellphone company who confirmed that when he worked near these towers his body temperature increased.
“It’s like a microwave and the body temperature increases by a couple of degrees. If there is no scientific proof that these towers don’t cause damage to people living nearby, why is it that this technician has to shut down the tower if he is working within three meters of it?” he asked.
Van Rooyen said he had called on a herbalist at a local shopping centre to for medication to help him sleep and while he was there had spoken to other customers. He was told by another resident that he had been experiencing the same symptoms, but that he didn’t live in the same area.
“I did a drive around and mapped out the masts and cellphone transmitters in the area. I noticed there was an antennae on the top of a nearby building which pointed straight at his house. Another resident living in this same road approached me last week and was shocked when I showed him the antennae, which he hadn’t noticed before,” he said.
Van Rooyen said he had done a lot of research on the topic, and discovered a multitude of articles on this issue. “Something needs to be done to protect the people, especially children, living in the area,” he said.
What the experts say:
In correspondence with Berea Mail, Dr Lauraine Vivian, a medical anthropologist from the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Cape Town, said there was abundant evidence of increasing numbers of people affected by EMR from cell masts who suffered with symptoms of electro-hypersensitivity which was what these residents were describing.
“Currently, because of monetary gain and poor regulations, the industry and government is able to implement the technology with no regard to people’s distress. It would seem that the practice is that complaints will go away as residents acclimatise to the new environment,” she said.
Dr Vivian said numbers of ‘reports of harm’ or ‘fear of harm’ are needed for action to be taken. “The International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection make their estimations by searching publications and conclude no harm, but as we know people feel stigmatised and afraid to come forward and if they do their claims are dismissed as hysterical. It is important to report this issue so people can understand their symptoms and secondly, it breaks the stigma that prevents them from speaking up,” she said.
Tracey-Lee Dorny from the Electromagnetic Radiation Research Foundation of South Africa highlighted an article in the Ecologist, 12 January 2017, entitled Krakow’s bold step to curb electromagnetic pollution reflects growing evidence of harm, by Lynne Wycherley, which mentioned newly published papers in the UK which showed DNA or organ damage to WiFi-exposed animals, raising questions about people’s habitual close exposure to routers and boosters.
The article confirmed Van Rooyen’s opinion that trees in the line of transmission were being affected, as it mentioned a landmark study in Germany in September which revealed progressive harm to trees from the growing microwave radiation.
The article claims that other 2016 peer-reviewed studies on cell towers found genetic effects in nearby residents. The article confirmed Sylvia Shepherd’s statement about the effects on children, and stated that around the world, research showing children’s cell-phone radiation absorption was higher than adults’, especially in the brain and bone marrow, which is continually being overlooked.
An article published on PubMed.gov on 28 August 2015, discussed a cross-sectional case control study on genetic damage in individuals residing in the vicinity of a mobile phone base station.
It revealed that the continuously emitting radiations from these stations had raised health concerns. The article said that in a study conducted, participants comprised 63 people with residences near a mobile phone tower, and 28 healthy controls. The results showed the genetic damage parameters of DNA migration length, damage frequency and damage index were significantly elevated in the sample group compared to respective values in healthy controls.
In response to queries by Berea Mail, eThekwini Municipality said: “As a caring City, eThekwini Municipality prioritises the well-being and health of its citizens. The matter was referred to the relevant Unit for urgent investigation, the outcome of the investigation will determine the necessary action to be taken.”
A health survey https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/emrrfsa-health-survey has been developed to record numbers of people suffering with EHS or cancer.
“It is important that people in South Africa know about it,” said Dr Vivian.