Clifton and Hotwells
Improvement Society (CHIS)

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CHIS Phone Mast


Bristol City Council have written Policy Advice Note 18 Telecommunications Development which gives supplementary planning guidance ME14 of the 1997 Bristol Local Plan. In determining planning applications, account will be taken of the technical and locational needs of operators and the benefits of minimising visual impact and obtrusiveness. It is also desirable that 3G masts should not be based near schools, nurseries or colleges for health reasons.

Questions to ask

1) Frequency levels - NRPB and ICNIRP guidelines

We note that the restrictions stated in the NRPB guidelines are based on the frequency levels. We understand that compliance with the restrictions is normally checked not direct measurement but it is achieved by comparison.
You have informed us that:- "The transmissions are well below the International Commission on Non-Ionising Radiation (ICNIRP) Guidelines" however you do not give the actual frequencies involved.
We would be obliged if you could:

2) Compliance with ICNIRP guidelines - thermal effects and non thermal effects.

We have been informed that the scheme complies with all Government Guidelines and ICNIRP guidelines.
Our understanding is that the most serious shortcoming of the ICNIRP guidelines is the focus on the thermal effects (whole and partial body heating) whilst much less attention is paid to other dangers.
We note that there have been several epidemiological studies looking at the non thermal biological effects of EMR. Those who argue that non-thermal effects should be taken more seriously maintain that biological systems intrinsically use EMR for body, organ, hormone and cellular functions and regulation, and that extrinsic EMR interferes with these at extremely low exposure levels. Problems which have been documented include: calcium ion efflux/influx, melatonin reduction, DNA strand breaks, chromosome aberrations, enhanced protooncogene activity, impaired immune system competence and impaired neurological and cardiac functioning.

3) Limitations of ICNIRP restrictions

UK has recently adopted the ICNIRP guidelines - maximum exposure levels in Australia, Switzerland and elsewhere, which are orders of magnitude below ICNIRP guidelines have been set below the exposure level where non-thermal biological effects start to occur.

4) Monitoring of RF levels and staff health

We have discovered that staff in vulnerable groups more likely to be affected than others -ie. those taking medication long term etc. We would like to ask:-

5) Proximity of University; Nursery and School.

We note that regulations were recently tightened up in relation to presence of mobile phone masts in the vicinity of schools.(April 2004)
Changes to mobile phone mast planning guidelines now "require school governers to be consulted on all proposals for new masts on or near a school or college" also there is a commitment to "ensure that field strengths around existing installations, starting with those close to housing or schools are monitored to ensure that they are below the ICNIRP guidelines"
It is accepted that children absorb more energy per kg of body weight and due to their age have a longer time to accumulate exposure. We have not been made aware of the response of parents or governers of the School.

6) Claims that there is no harm

They attempt to assure us that "no-one has actually proved any link between microwave radio waves and actual harm" though he goes on to say that "No-one can promise that these base stations and mobile phones are totally harmless?"
The NRPB acknowledge that this is an area in which scientific knowledge is constantly developing as more experience is gained. For instance as more information became available the NRPB modified it's recommendations for the general public to make them more stringent than those for occupational exposure. Also the NRPB state "In relation to furthering knowledge on possible health effects of exposure to EMFs the Board supports the need for further epidemiological and experimental studies" and "The Board's Statement reflects understanding and valuation of the current scientific evidence as given in the supporting document. If and when further relevant information becomes available, the Board will review its advice."
The Stewart report acknowledges that further research is required and that the "possibility of harm cannot be ruled out with confidence and that gaps in the knowledge are sufficient to justify a precautionary approach".
Given the above although we acknowledge comments about the smallpox vaccine, there have also been situations where we have been assured of the safety of something only to find out later that this was not the case, asbestos and BSE spring to mind immediately.
Also whilst we can choose whether or not to use a mobile phone we are not being given any choice regarding the siting of this mast.

Documents referred to:

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