The health threats from electro-magnetic radiation from cell phones and transmitting towers are very real and could be resuting in a range of symptoms from general fatigue right up to life-threatening conditions like depression, leukemia and breast cancer.
This is the message from retired UK military scientist Barrie Trower, currently on a series of speaking engagements in South Africa as a guest of the newly-formed Electro-Magnetic Radiation Research Foundation (EMRRF).
Trower, who worked on the UK's microwave weapons programme in the 1960s, challenges the mobile industry to produce a credible scientific study showing that microwaves are harmless to foetuses, infants and children through all their stages of development.
"To date there is not one," he says.
He says children, the elderly and the chronically ill are most at risk from microwaves, with children feeling the effects most acutely.
Not only are children smaller than adults and therefore absorb more micrwaves, their immune systems and nerve tissue are not yet fully developed and microwaves can damage them irreparably.
Trower points out that a study in Wales found more than 200 childhood leukemia clusters in and around schools, pointing up the fact that there are currently no studies on what constitutes a safe level of radiation for children.
Microwaves can also affect the functioning of the brain, says Trower, and MIT has publisehd a study indicating that low-level microwaves can lead to personality changes, ADHD, depression and behavioural changes.
The EMRRF was set up by concerned members of the commnunity when residents of a Johannesburg suburb experienced a range of symptoms and illnesses dating from the commissioning of a new cellular transmitting tower in their neighbourhood.
Trower advises that communities, schools or businesses that lease their land for cellular transmitting towers should familiaries themselves with the stipulations in international guidelines regarding safe radiation levels.
"The mobile phone industry will say that they follow the WHO guidelines," he says. "However these specifically say that children, the elderly and the chronically ill may have a lower tolerance to radiation and there is a need for seperate guidelines that take into consideration sensitive individuals.
"If you follow those guidelines, they say the decision-maker [ie: the school principal] must read scientifc literature and determine a safety level with thresholds."
He also cautions that there are two levels – the maximum safe level and the recommended daily level – but operators sometimes use the maximum as their daily benchmark.
He argues that the currently-accepted UN guidelines are open to misinterpretation and often set intensity levels too high.
Instead, Trower recommends that emission leves as laid out in the independently-authored Bio-Initiative Report be followed as it takes into account foetuses, infants, children and the chronically ill.
Trower points out that European countries are starting to become aware of the adverse effects of microwave emissions and at least eight countries have now adopted the Bio-Initiative recommendations.
Apart from humanitarian considerations, there are some compelling economic reasons to do so, he adds, with some financial experts estimating the annual cost of people in the US becomng ill from cell phones and towers at about $71,8-billion.
In addition, because microwaves are causing bees and other pollinating insects to decline, there is a knock-on effect on food production of an estimated $33-trillion, which consumers will pay in increased food prices.
Trower adds that there are currenlty some high-prfile court cases on the go in the US and the UK where the ill effects of high levels of microwave radiation are being tested.