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Radio and TV Transmitter Overview
The communications industry often denies that there could be a problem from radio and TV transmitters, saying that we have had these forms of broadcasting for a long time, without reported health problems. This is not strictly true as can be seen from the results of several studies, some of which we report below.
Holt was probably among the first to report that cancer could develop faster in a radiofrequency field [Holt 1980].
Dolk found that there was a significant increase in adult leukaemia, skin and bladder cancer in England with proximity to the frequency modulation (FM) broadcasting tower near Sutton Coldfield [Holt 1997a]. They carried out a second study on 20 high power TV and FM transmitters in Great Britain in order to test the conclusions obtained from Sutton Coldfield. They reported a similar trend for individuals who lived various distances from FM and TV towers, but the effect was less pronounced than in the first study and was not statistically significant [Holt 1997b]. However, this second study had a number of shortcomings and was mainly carried out "to re-assure the public".
Residents on Lookout Mountain, a residential community that contains numerous radio and TV transmitters that broadcast to the entire Denver metropolitan area, had statistically significant increases in the number of white blood cells that are immune system markers (such as T cells and lymphocytes) [Reif 2005]. This study was a follow up to previous findings, in July 2004, that there were a higher number of residents with brain tumours than would be expected in the area. Bruce Hocking had not found an increase in brain tumour incidence or mortality on ill-health and proximity to TV towers [Hocking 1996]. However, he did find a link with increased childhood leukaemia incidence and mortality, and his findings were replicated in 2007 [Ha 2007]. In an earlier paper, Ha found a significant increase in the incidences of leukaemia and brain cancer in the vicinity of AM radio transmitters [Ha 2003], and Park found higher mortality rates for all cancers and leukaemias, especially among young adults aged under 30 years [Park 2004].
In studies by Michelozzi (2001, 2002), the researchers found that "The risk of childhood leukaemia was higher than expected up to 6 km from the high-power radio station and there was a significant decline in risk with increasing distance both for male mortality and childhood leukaemia." [Michelozzi 2001, Michelozzi 2002]. Maskarinec also found an increased risk of childhood leukaemia within 2.6 kilometres of radio towers in Hawaii [Maskarinec 1994].
The incidence of malignant melanoma (skin cancer) has been increasing steadily in many countries since 1960, but the underlying mechanism causing this increase remains elusive. However, it has been linked to the distance to frequency modulation (FM) broadcasting towers.
In two studies by Hallberg and Johansson the authors showed that melanoma incidence increased with the amount of time the population of 4 different countries (Norway, Sweden, Denmark and the USA) had been exposed to FM broadcasting and was a function of the number of active FM stations at each location, rather than the power density of the transmissions [Hallberg 2002, Hallberg 2005]. The authors suggested that there was a strong association between FM broadcasting at full-body resonant frequencies (85-108 MHz) and increasing melanoma of the skin on the central parts of the body (where it is predominantly found), and induced currents at resonance are likely to be highest.
The Schwarzenburg radio transmitter in Switzerland was shut down in 1998, and Altpeter and his colleagues did a 'before and after' study on sleep quality and melatonin excretion (a measure of melatonin availability) in nearby residents. They found an improvement in sleep quality and melatonin excretion after the mast ceased broadcasting, depending on the previous level of RF exposure, but only in poor sleepers [Altpeter 2006]. They accepted that there may have been a psychosomatic element in their result.
People who live near RF transmitters often report sleep problems, which can have significant knock-on effects on health, as sleep recharges the brain, repairs important neuronal connections and helps it organise data. Sleep also gives the cardiovascular system a break and helps damaged cells mend themselves. Sleep deprivation results in a reduced ability to make sense of what is seen. There can be severe drops in visual processing and attention, affecting work efficiency and driving safety, among other aspects of daily living.
The interaction between RF exposure and sleep problems could explain some of the symptoms experienced by residents living near RF sources.
Kolodynski & Kolodynska found that school children living near a Radio Location Station in Latvia had memory and attention problems, their reaction time was slower and their motor functions were poor [Kolodynski & Kolodynska 1996].
A study by Clark showed that there may be a sensitive subgroup of women who react to RF transmissions with a reduction in melatonin levels, especially post menopause [Clark 2007]. As this is such a potent hormone with respect to our health, this deserves further investigation.
It certainly seems that FM broadcasting may not be as safe as was thought. It is possible that the mixture of transmissions at different frequencies may have different resonance effects on living systems. This may mean that as we add to the quantity of 'electrosmog' that surrounds us and that the interaction of exposures may stress the body's repair mechanisms beyond their ability to cope, resulting in more ill health consequences than any of the exposures would result in if considered separately.
Altpeter ES et al
, (February 2006) Effect of short-wave (6-22 MHz) magnetic fields on sleep quality and melatonin cycle in humans: the Schwarzenburg shut-down study
, Bioelectromagnetics. 2006 Feb;27(2):142-50 [View Author's abstract conclusions
Clark ML et al
, (October 2007) Biomonitoring of estrogen and melatonin metabolites among women residing near radio and television broadcasting transmitters
, J Occup Environ Med. 2007 Oct;49(10):1149-56 [View Author's abstract conclusions
Hallberg O, Johansson O
, (2005) FM broadcasting exposure time and malignant melanoma incidence
, Electromagnetic Biology and Medicine 24; 1-8 [View Author's abstract conclusions
Kolodynski AA, Kolodynska VV
, (February 1996) Motor and psychological functions of school children living in the area of the Skrunda Radio Location Station in Latvia
, Sci Total Environ. 1996 Feb 2;180(1):87-93 [View Author's abstract conclusions
Maskarinec G et al
, (1994) Investigation of increased incidence in childhood leukemia near radio towers in Hawaii: preliminary observations
, J Environ Pathol Toxicol Oncol. 1994;13(1):33-7 [View Author's abstract conclusions
Park SK et al
, (August 2004) Ecological study on residences in the vicinity of AM radio broadcasting towers and cancer death: preliminary observations in Korea
, Int Arch Occup Environ Health. 2004 Aug;77(6):387-94 [View Author's abstract conclusions