18. TUNING OUT NON-IONIZING RADIATION AND PUBLIC
Growing evidence that long wave non-ionizing
radiation used in electromagnetic devices, microwave products, and TV/radio systems
is harmful to the public's health, hazardous to effective public safety systems,
and threatening to military security went largely unreported by America's media
in 1987. Also underreported were the related issues of the Environmental Protection
Agency's shut-down of its funded programs to study non-ionizing radiation in light
of a 1989 deadline to establish safety standards for public exposure to radio
frequencies, and, the lawsuit brought against the Reagan administration by a coalition
of plaintiffs who charge that the administration has violated the National Environmental
Policy act by not adequately protecting the public and environment from the "Hazard
of Electromagnetic Radiation to Ordnance" (HERO).
Studies that suggest
links between electromagnetic fields (such as those produced by overhead power
lines, broadcast towers, military hardware, hairdryers, microwave ovens, computers,
TV and two-way
radios, and radar), and cellular mutation, cancer, and childhood
leukemia have received little attention. University of North Carolina epidemiologist
David Savitz confirmed earlier reports about the apparent public health hazard.
Savitz emphasized the need for further research and more federal funding to determine
the extent of this potential health risk. Fifteen of 17 occupational studies have
established links between exposure to low frequency electromagnetic fields and
cancer. Despite this mounting evidence, the EPA shut down its program to study
non-ionizing radiation which is supposed to set acceptable levels of exposure
for humans and the environment by 1989. Meanwhile, total federal funding to study
the health effects of low frequency fields has dropped from $10 million to just
A coalition of Pentagon watchdog organizations and individuals has
brought suit against the government charging Reagan administration officials
with neglecting to protect the public from the HERO effect. Though the
Navy and Army have been aware, for some 33 years, of the hazard that
electromagnetism poses to weapon systems, the Pentagon has acknowledged
very little about the hazards that accidental explosions caused by various
electro-magnetic sources pose to public and environmental safety. The
plaintiffs cite five specific HERO related accidents, including the
1967 explosion on board the USS Forrestal which claimed 134 lives, along
with a possible 25 other HERO related accidents that have occurred over
the past 25 years.
Finally, in a continuing conflict related to the issue
of electromagnetic radiation and its effects on public safety and health, radar
specialist veterans have been filing health claims, related to their exposure
to low frequency radiation, against the Veterans Administration. All claims to
date have been rejected.
With such a newsworthy issue as the effects of
electromagnetic radiation on public health and safety so clearly being played
out during 1987, the news media, for the most part, failed to tune in.
9, "EXPRESS," 12/9/87, "Radiation Risk?," by David Helvarg;
RECON, Vol. 10, #4, January 1988, "HERO: Deadly Game of Roulette," by
Patricia Axelrod, pp 1,2,8.