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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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Are you kidding me?
By Breathless on 1/15/2010 12:26:52 PM , Rating: -1
All of you knuckleheads who think that this could just be a placebo effect are idiots. Current research could say that it has "minimal" effect, but so what? "Current research" 20 years ago could have said that there were no side effects from microwaving your food in plastic containers... Does that make it so? Current research only knows what we know currently, which is not necessarily a whole lot. We've only had widespread use of cellphones for what, 20 years (if that)?

RE: Are you kidding me?
By FoundationII on 1/15/2010 12:48:00 PM , Rating: 3
Don't be a tool please. 20 years is plenty of time to study short term complaints like this. Especially with double blind studies, which are currently the highest standard of trials in evidence based medicine.
Unless you decide not to follow EBM or have something to contribute from your own experiments perhaps, you shouldn't try to scare people with pseudoscience.

Peer reviewed article on idiopathic environmental intolerance:

It's true we can't be sure what the long term effects are (20+ years) but this is another matter entirely.

RE: Are you kidding me?
By Breathless on 1/15/10, Rating: -1
RE: Are you kidding me?
By porkpie on 1/15/2010 2:52:30 PM , Rating: 2
Your statement was that anyone who thinks this has to be a placebo effect is an idiot. The "this" in this case is the short-term effects the residents were complaining of, from a tower that hasn't been there very long, and was turned off most of that time anyway.

In short, it IS a placebo effect. You were wrong, and doubly wrong for calling someone a tard for pointing it out to you. Get over it and move on.

RE: Are you kidding me?
By SavagePotato on 1/15/2010 5:27:17 PM , Rating: 2
People like the original poster on this (to which I didn't reply due to his -1 rating) seem to forget that television uses the same technology.

that juicy 700mhz spectrum that broadcasted for how many years for example.

A TV tower or even an FM radio tower puts out a staggering power level compared to wireless internet tower, or even a cell tower.

People who claim they are allergic to RF are quacks plain and simple.

"There is a single light of science, and to brighten it anywhere is to brighten it everywhere." -- Isaac Asimov

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