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Resident claim broadband tower causes health issues -- but tower was secretly turned off months ago

There's a great deal of intense fear among many in the public about the possible health impact of cell phone towers and high power radio waves.  While there is actually some legitimate research into health impacts ongoing, most current research indicates current current communications technologies have relatively minimal (if any) affects on the human body, compared to more serious direct threats -- such as the ingestion of plastic residues.  Nonetheless, there's been great public fear perpetrated by a variety of pseudo-medical sources decrying the health risks of radio waves.

This irrational behavior was brought into sharp focus by the residents of Craigavon, South Africa.  On August 12, 2009, a new iBurst (or HC-SDMA, High Capacity Spatial Division Multiple Access) tower in the city's Fourways Memorial Park.  IBurst is a high speed wireless broadband technology, commonly used in the U.S., Canada, South Africa, and elsewhere to bring fast wireless internet to USB modems.

Shortly after the tower was turned on, residents began to complain that they were suddenly afflicted with severe health issues according to MyBroadband.  Describes Tracey-Lee Dorny, one of the supposed victims, "Several rash cases were presented in person and by photos from people who could not attend [a meeting with iBurst]. Headaches, nausea, tinnitus, dry burning itchy skins, gastric imbalances and totally disrupted sleep patterns, especially with some of the children, were some of the issues presented by the residents."

Residents recruited the legal services of legal firm Bezuidenhout, Van Zyl and Associates to sue iBurst.  They complained that their symptoms resided within a day of leaving the town, and they demanded the tower be permanently removed.

Then iBurst did something clever.  It secretly turned off the tower near the end of September.  The residents didn't know this, though, when they came to a meeting with iBurst CEO Jannie van Zyl in mid-November.  They claimed that their symptoms took hours to subside, but would return shortly after they came back to the town.  They said that certain skin conditions took a while longer -- as long as 6 weeks -- to fully recover.  They also said that their afflictions still were ongoing.

Then Mr. Zyl revealed to them that they had been tricked.  He explains, "At the meeting in mid-November residents claimed that full recovery of skin conditions could take as long as 6 weeks. Yet, the tower was switched off for more than 6 weeks by this time. At this point it became apparent that the tower can, in no way, be the cause of the symptoms, as it was already switched off for many weeks, yet the residents still saw symptoms that come and go according to their proximity to the area."

At this point it seems almost certain that the symptoms are indicative of some other local heath risk, such as contaminated drinking water.  However, the tower is obviously not to blame. Mr. Zyl lauds the safety of iBurst, adding, "Radiation levels emitted by the tower were ten thousand times LESS than the international safety standards set for mobile towers and that the radiation at this site was in fact the same level as that already present from cellular phone towers in the area."

Despite being caught in a fallacy, the residents' hatred of the broadband service burns on.  Their lawyer states that the medical complaints were "only the beginning" of a much larger complaint against iBurst.

The truly curious part is that in their fervor to destroy the local iBurst tower, the residents seem to have given up on any effort to find the true reason why they are suffering from strange health afflictions.  Log this one in the annals of irrational fear of radio waves.

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By shin0bi272 on 1/15/2010 11:30:53 AM , Rating: 5
I wonder if they are just so afraid of the tower that their fear is causing these "symptoms" to appear. What scares me is that when people like this in seattle I think it was, were against radio towers there they bombed them. I hope they have security guards posted near the tower.

RE: psychosomatic?
By Motoman on 1/15/2010 11:36:56 AM , Rating: 5
All such nonsense is either psychosomatic, if it becomes extant at all, or an outright lie. Those are the only 2 options.

You get the same thing in anti-vax talk, acupuncture, aromatherapy, homeopathy, etc. You could do pretty well by characterizing all such non-scientific assertions as being propagated either by lies or psychosomatic effects.

RE: psychosomatic?
By DEVGRU on 1/15/2010 2:13:01 PM , Rating: 5
South Africa? Clearly the citizens just want to hide their undergroud cat food smuggling network. Damn prawns.

RE: psychosomatic?
By Einy0 on 1/15/2010 2:29:21 PM , Rating: 2
lol... nice... D9..

RE: psychosomatic?
By AlexWade on 1/15/10, Rating: -1
RE: psychosomatic?
By porkpie on 1/15/2010 4:00:56 PM , Rating: 4
Every drug test includes a placebo blind control group, so your point isn't really valid. Yes, placebos do make people feel better sometimes. But no drug can be sold (in the US at least) unless it works **better** than a placebo.

Honestly, your entire point of view sounds like the usual hollywood-inspired anti-corporate paranoia. Drug companies are in business to sell drugs. Does a company somewhere occasionally overpromote their product? I'm sure....but they still save tens of millions of lives each year.

How many lives have YOU saved, sitting on your butt complaining about evil corporations?

RE: psychosomatic?
By AlexWade on 1/15/2010 7:34:33 PM , Rating: 3
I am not anti-corporation. What I don't like is money put ahead of my health. And I don't like being made to think I have a medical problem. Obviously drug companies need to make a profit so as to have a motivation to do more research. That is not the issue. The issue is drug companies making people think they need drugs.

I was not referring to real problems. I was referring to people who think they have a problem when, in fact, they do not. As in the case of this radio tower.

RE: psychosomatic?
By whiskerwill on 1/15/2010 9:11:33 PM , Rating: 3
My wife has restless leg syndrome. Its not a "fake" condition made up by drug companies. It's really bothersome for her at times.

RE: psychosomatic?
By Camikazi on 1/17/2010 8:24:40 PM , Rating: 2
They didn't say all conditions were, RLS is real, they were talking about symptoms the mind creates based off fear of something happening. Like what these people were saying the tower was doing to them, even though it was off.

RE: psychosomatic?
By croc on 1/16/10, Rating: -1
RE: psychosomatic?
By porkpie on 1/16/2010 4:21:24 PM , Rating: 5
"how many double-blind studies were done, to the FDA's satisfaction prior to the release of the H1N1 vaccine, right? And that is just one drug... "

First of all, get your terminology straight. A vaccine isn't a drug. We don't spend years double-blind testing flue vaccines before release because a) if you don't produce a new vaccine every year, its rather pointless, as the virii mutate that fast, and b) we already have more than a century of experience making flu vaccines. In any case, we do double blind test flu vaccines...but we do at AS as they're being admininistered, as a retrograde efficacy check.

Finally, what the hell point do you think you're making? That flu shots don't save lives? If so, you're sadly mistaken.

"How about paracetimal? How many tablets does it take over how many days to kill your liver"

Well, given I've taken it daily for the last 11 years (in conjuunction with another painkiller) for a chronic pain condition, I honestly don't consider it to be terribly dangerous. Of course, if you take too much, you'll die...but that's true of pretty much everything in this world, including Vitamin A and even water. So what?

"I could go on, but I think I have proved my point."

If your point was to prove you're a Luddite twit, then yes, you've succeeded.

RE: psychosomatic?
By FITCamaro on 1/16/2010 11:59:04 AM , Rating: 3
According to those ads I have RLS. Am I going to pay for a drug? No.

RE: psychosomatic?
By bighairycamel on 1/15/2010 11:37:50 AM , Rating: 5
Probably a lot of the same idiot geezers that thought power lines were causing illness back in the day.

It's like the bizzaro placebo effect.

RE: psychosomatic?
By porkpie on 1/15/2010 12:48:12 PM , Rating: 5
Sounds a lot like the loons who are afraid of nuclear power plants exploding, in my opinion....or those who think genetically-engineered tomatoes will take over the world.

RE: psychosomatic?
By Curelom on 1/15/2010 1:04:11 PM , Rating: 2
Attack of the Killer Tomatoes

RE: psychosomatic?
By walk2k on 1/15/10, Rating: -1
RE: psychosomatic?
By epobirs on 1/15/2010 5:36:09 PM , Rating: 4
You have to be kidding. Chernobyl used a reactor design that has been implemented almost nowhere else in the world for stationary applications. The closest parallel is in older nuke subs where size and weight was a severe limiting factor. The US determined that it was unsuitable for civilian applications decades before the Chernobyl failure. What happened says more about the nature of the USSR than it does about the risks of nuclear power.

RE: psychosomatic?
By porkpie on 1/15/2010 6:23:24 PM , Rating: 5
Of course, reactors built on Chernobyl's princicples were never even considered in the US, they were too dangerous. But also lets not forget that had the Soviets just evacuated people when the accident happened, they would have avoided nearly all the health problems. I read there were people still fishing in Chernobyl's cooling pond several days after the melt down occurred, because the USSR didn't want to advertise how bad the accident was.

RE: psychosomatic?
By walk2k on 1/15/10, Rating: -1
RE: psychosomatic?
By porkpie on 1/15/2010 10:10:21 PM , Rating: 5
Rofl, how many people were killed by TMI? Zero. How many people were even injured or had their health impaired in any way? Zero again. You get more radiation from a cross-country air flight than anyone got from the TMI "incident".

As for the "no nuke plant is safe from earthquakes and other natural disasters", did you forget about that Japanese nuclear plant that was right on top of a large earthquake last year? It didn't even come close to causing a leak. Plants are generally rated to withstand a Richter 9 earthquake. That's ONE HUNDRED TIMES stronger than the one that destroyed Haiti.

Meanwhile we have possibly as many as 10,000 people a year die from all the health problems caused by coal-fired power plants, while asshats like you do your best to keep them open with your irational fear of nuclear power.

RE: psychosomatic?
By Whedonic on 1/16/2010 11:20:18 AM , Rating: 2
If I could vote you up to a 6, I would.

RE: psychosomatic?
By S3anister on 1/17/2010 11:09:51 PM , Rating: 2

RE: psychosomatic?
By Chernobyl68 on 1/20/2010 4:37:28 PM , Rating: 2

RE: psychosomatic?
By Solandri on 1/17/2010 2:16:06 AM , Rating: 2
Just to reinforce this, here's a worldwide audit of power generation accidents.

For the time period 1969-1996 (which includes Chernobyl), nuclear power had the fewest number of fatalities per GWh generated (p.241, fig 7.2.7). Even if you include estimates for latent cancer deaths, nuclear is still the safest (fig 7.2.9).

RE: psychosomatic?
By erple2 on 1/15/2010 6:14:53 PM , Rating: 2
Is that worse than the firing of coal plants?

RE: psychosomatic?
By gilboa on 1/18/2010 1:52:10 AM , Rating: 1
So, the worst nuclear disaster ever to hit man kind killed 56 people?
How many people die, each day, from illnesses that link directly or indirectly to using coal to produce electricity? 100-fold? 1000-fold?
How many cancer cases are reported each year that may or may not result from coal ash being inhaled?


- Gilboa

RE: psychosomatic?
By Ammohunt on 1/15/10, Rating: -1
RE: psychosomatic?
By Goty on 1/15/2010 3:51:45 PM , Rating: 5
Ok, obligatory Christianity/religion bashing post accounted for, please go troll elsewhere.

RE: psychosomatic?
By Ammohunt on 1/16/10, Rating: -1
RE: psychosomatic?
By Goty on 1/17/2010 12:39:37 AM , Rating: 5
A parallel that brings absolutely nothing to the conversation and serves only to try and inflame those that believe differently than yourself.

Thanks for playing, please try again never.

RE: psychosomatic?
By MonkeyPaw on 1/15/2010 8:22:36 PM , Rating: 2
Probably a lot of the same idiot geezers that thought power lines were causing illness back in the day.

Check a local transformer near you. Chances are it has a blue "Non PCB" sticker on it. Care to guess why? Because electrical equipment used to have PCBs, and it wasn't a good thing.

RE: psychosomatic?
By porkpie on 1/15/2010 9:09:24 PM , Rating: 5
Erm, no one living below a power line ever got sick from the PCBs in a transformer. The risk factor from them is very low...there was a case once where over a million gallons of PCB were accidentally dumped in a river, and no illnesses were reported as a result.

A heavy dose will cause a skin rash...long term exposure will increase your risk of cancer somewhat. But getting sick just from being near a container of PCB? Thats quackery, my friend. Chlorine is a much stronger carcinogen...and you keep that under your kitchen sink.

RE: psychosomatic?
By alfredska on 1/15/2010 12:02:25 PM , Rating: 2
I don't remember any such event in Seattle. Can you provide refs?

RE: psychosomatic?
By Rugar on 1/15/2010 12:20:17 PM , Rating: 3
RE: psychosomatic?
By foolsgambit11 on 1/16/2010 12:43:56 AM , Rating: 2
Well there you go, you were totally wrong. It was in Everett, not Seattle. </sarcasm>

Having lived most of my life in the area, I can tell you that environmental terrorism is a force to be reckoned with in Western Washington. We had a spate of fires in McMansion developments a year or so ago, too. I can't remember if that was ELF or another ecoterrorist group, though. But hey, we've got issues with ultra-right-wing terrorists, too, though. We're all a bit nutty - maybe it's the rain.

RE: psychosomatic?
By WoWCow on 1/15/2010 12:13:02 PM , Rating: 3
Well, until some random satellite explodes overhead and the radioactive tower turns them into flesh-consuming cannibalistic zombies, I foresee no health troubles.

RE: psychosomatic?
By shin0bi272 on 1/15/2010 5:59:37 PM , Rating: 2
So youre saying we should prepare for the zombie apocalypse then? good thing Ive been playing Left 4 Dead for a while now.

RE: psychosomatic?
By FoundationII on 1/15/2010 12:31:23 PM , Rating: 4
The current medical viewpoint is indeed that it's a nocebo effect.
Double blind studies of people with what's called idiopathic environmental intolerance has revealed those people can't reliably distinguish if they're being subjected to the electromagnetic radiation or not.

RE: psychosomatic?
By porkpie on 1/15/2010 12:51:58 PM , Rating: 1
Exactly. Trust Mick to get it totally wrong, when he says "at this point it seems almost certain that the symptoms are indicative of some other local heath risk".

In the minds of a true environmentalist, if someone is complaining about headaches or stomache pain anywhere in the world, its just gotta be due to a chemical leak, radioactive waste, or power line of some sort.

RE: psychosomatic?
By geddarkstorm on 1/15/2010 12:36:28 PM , Rating: 5
On the other hand, their symptoms match zinc toxicity to the t too. It could be they have heavy metals leeching into their water, or have cruddy pipes, and are only now paying special attention since there's a tower to blame instead of "I guess this is life".

RE: psychosomatic?
By kattanna on 1/15/2010 1:02:23 PM , Rating: 2
IMO at least its better to blame this poor tower then the usual route they might take and accuse some one of witchcraft and casting "spells" on them

RE: psychosomatic?
By porkpie on 1/15/2010 1:03:47 PM , Rating: 2
That's the usual route in Nigeria or Uganda. Here in the West, our superstitions run more towards irrational fear of science and technology.

RE: psychosomatic?
By kattanna on 1/15/2010 1:10:50 PM , Rating: 2
which is why i was a little surprised since this is in africa

This irrational behavior was brought into sharp focus by the residents of Craigavon, South Africa

so.. i guess in a way.. this is progress???

RE: psychosomatic?
By ipay on 1/15/2010 2:51:15 PM , Rating: 2
Hi, I'm from South Africa. Yes, we have Internet here. However our only fixed-line provider only offers speeds up to 4Mbps - which you pay through the ass for - and its service levels are practically non-existent. (Yay for government-owned monopolies, huh?) Hence many choose (or rather, are forced out of necessity) to use wireless Internet providers such as iBurst.

BTW, the residents of Craigavon have a reputation for stupidity and/or inbreeding (much like American rednecks), which explains their "symptoms" more thoroughly than any doctor could.

RE: psychosomatic?
By shin0bi272 on 1/15/2010 6:01:53 PM , Rating: 2
(Yay for government-owned monopolies, huh?)

dont say that too loud or they'll come take it away

RE: psychosomatic?
By clovell on 1/15/2010 2:01:40 PM , Rating: 3
Call me cynical, but I think these folks are suffering from a case of litigatory blue balls. They wanted someone to sue, and their bluff got called.

RE: psychosomatic?
By toyotabedzrock on 1/15/2010 2:06:15 PM , Rating: 2
It is possible that there fear is causing their illness. If I remember correctly the illness associated with radio waves and power lines takes years to develop and in general it is manifested as an internal illness i.e. cancer.

The symptoms they describe make me think that they think the effects are more like someone pointing the magnetron from a microwave at them.

Either they have another health issue or they started stressing themselves and possibly scratching themselves, a common stress reaction.

RE: psychosomatic?
By Aloonatic on 1/18/2010 4:23:45 AM , Rating: 2
Pah, radio towers are not a problem.

It's the people taking your photograph with cameras that steal your soul that you need to look out for...

"So, I think the same thing of the music industry. They can't say that they're losing money, you know what I'm saying. They just probably don't have the same surplus that they had." -- Wu-Tang Clan founder RZA

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