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ABSTRACT Objectives: We performed a re-analysis of the data from Navarro et al (2003) in which health symptoms related to microwave exposure from mobile phone base stations (BSs) were explored, including data obtained in a retrospective inquiry about fear of exposure from BSs. Design: Cross-sectional study.
Setting: La Ñora (Murcia), Spain. Participants: Participants with known illness in 2003 were subsequently disregarded: 88 participants instead of 101 (in 2003) were analysed. Since weather circumstances can influence exposure, we restricted data to measurements made under similar weather conditions.
Outcomes and methods: A statistical method indifferent to the assumption of normality was employed: namely, binary logistic regression for modelling a binary response (eg, suffering fatigue (1) or not (0)), and so exposure was introduced as a predictor variable. This analysis was carried out on a regular basis and bootstrapping (95% percentile method) was used to provide more accurate CIs.
Results: The symptoms most related to exposure were lack of appetite (OR=1.58, 95% CI 1.23 to 2.03); lack of concentration (OR=1.54, 95% CI 1.25 to 1.89); irritability (OR=1.51, 95% CI 1.23 to 1.85); and trouble sleeping (OR=1.49, 95% CI 1.20 to 1.84). Changes in –2 log likelihood showed similar results. Concerns about the BSs were strongly related with trouble sleeping (OR =3.12, 95% CI 1.10 to 8.86).
The exposure variable remained statistically significant in the multivariate analysis. The bootstrapped values were similar to asymptotic CIs. Conclusions: This study confirms our preliminary results. We observed that the incidence of most of the symptoms was related to exposure levels— independently of the demographic variables and some possible risk factors. Concerns about adverse effects from exposure, despite being strongly related with sleep disturbances, do not influence the direct association between exposure and sleep.
The health risk due to exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (RF EMFs) continues to be discussed today.
The study that led to this debate was initiated after verification that the US embassy in Moscow was being subjected to such radiation from 1953 to May 1975.
Recently, a review of that episode reopened the debate about the potential harmfulness of RF EMFs.
The increasing number of base stations (BSs) on masts and buildings has increased public awareness. This issue has prompted scientific research to establish to what extent low-intensity EMFs may affect the health of humans and other organisms.
Furthermore, the term electromagnetic hypersensitivity has been recently introduced in discussions attributing symptoms to exposure to EMFs.
A review of this topic in 2010 found that 8 of the 10 studies evaluated through PubMed had reported increased prevalence of adverse neurobehavioral symptoms or cancer in populations living at distances <500 m from BSs.
None of the studies reported exposure above accepted international guidelines, suggesting that current guidelines may be inadequate in protecting health.
Thus, the need emerges to revaluate our pioneering work in this field in order to add new procedures and data.
Few articles have addressed the possible association between microwave sickness and microwave exposure from Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) BSs since the publication of our first study.
Chronologically, Santini et al and Gadzicka et al reported differences in the distance dependent prevalence of symptoms such as headache, impaired concentration and Strengths and limitations of this study ▪ We used a robust statistical analysis with a highly homogeneous sample in a homogeneous environment. ▪ A participation bias cannot be ruled out.
The late query about concerns (as a possible confounder) may render the results less valid. ▪ We observed that the incidence of most of the symptoms was related to exposure levels. Gómez-Perretta C, Navarro EA, Segura J, et al. BMJ Open 2013;3:e003836. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2013-003836 1 Open Access Research Downloaded from bmjopen.bmj.com on December 31, 2013 – Published by group.bmj.com irritability.
A later Austrian study showed a positive association between the measured electrical field (GSM 900/ 1800) in bedrooms and headaches, cold hands and feet and difficulties in concentration.
An Egyptian study showed a prevalence of neurological symptoms, such as headache, memory changes, dizziness, tremors, depressive symptoms and sleep disturbances among participants directly exposed to GSM signals from BSs. The symptoms reported by all the above cited authors belong to those attributed to the microwave syndrome.
However, one article using personal monitored data from GSM-UMTS frequency bands found no statistical association in adults. More recently, the same authors observed no association in children, contradictory results in children and adolescents, and concluded that the few observed significant associations were not causal but rather occurred by chance.
Blettner et al reported in phase 1 of their study more health problems closer to BSs, but in phase 2 they concluded that measured EMF emissions were not related to adverse health effects.
Other researchers focused their work on the possible existence of participants with sensitivity to GSM or UMTS signals according to psychological, cognitive or autonomic assessment. These researchers used short term exposure (only 30–50 min) under laboratory conditions and revealed a large disparity between participants.
Recently, a study measuring several biological stress markers found that RF EMF emitted by mobile phone BSs from 5.2 to 2126.8 μW/m2 increased cortisol and salivary α-amylase, while IgA concentration was not significantly modified. The Selbitz study in 2010 described a significant dose–response relationship in symptoms related with sleep, mood, joints, infections, skin condition, as well as neurological, cardiovascular, visual and auditory systems and the gastrointestinal tract.
The existence of short-term physiological effects of EMF on sleep quality was not evident in the work of Danker-Hopfe et al; however, it was stated that the presence of BSs per se (not the EMF) may have a negative impact on sleep quality.
A Polish study in 2012 did not show a correlation between electrical field strength and frequency of subjective symptoms; however, it showed a correlation between subjective symptoms and the distance to BSs.
A study carried out in Egypt revealed that exposure to EMF emitted either from mobile phones or BSs had significant effects on the pituitary–adrenal axis. More recently, work developed in Iran indicated that symptoms such as nausea, headache, dizziness, irritability, discomfort, nervousness, depression, sleep disturbance, memory loss and lowering of libido were statistically significant in people living near BSs (<300 m distances) compared with those living far from the BSs (>300 m).
In our cross-sectional analysis, of symptoms showed statistically significant higher scores in the group with the maximum exposure level. The symptoms are included in the microwave syndrome.
It also reported statistically significant correlation coefficients between the measured electrical field and of symptoms.
A review recently established several conditions for epidemiological studies to be eligible for introduction in general analysis: eligible studies must quantify exposure using objective measures (such as distance to the nearest BS, spot or personal exposure measurements in a specific frequency range); possible confounders must be considered and the selection of the study population must be clearly free of bias in terms of exposure and outcomes.
Accordingly, in this reanalysis of our previous study, possible confounders were included in addition to the specific RF EMF measurements made in 2001 (covering the specific range between 900 and 1800 MHz).
Therefore, we coanalysed the effects of other variables such as sociodemographic data and the use of electronic devices. Concern about being damaged by radiation from antennas was also analysed. The new statistical approach tested the possible influences of other variables, such as demographic data and the use of electronic devices.
Moreover, since some concerns have been raised about possible health consequences caused by the emitted microwaves, we analysed whether these symptoms might be related to fear of exposure.
As some participants refused to allow measurements in their homes, we analysed whether symptom status or subjective distance to the BS could be a bias of participation in the study.
Interestingly, this period was free of other sources of RF such as WIFI or UMTS or the massive use of mobile phones, enabling a specific study of GSM technology.
Finally, the suitability of the size of the sample was analysed.
METHODS Study design We chose a small urban area with mixed rural characteristics: low levels of environmental pollution (more agricultural than industrial); no major differences in socioeconomic characteristics throughout the region (excluding large cities); similar ethnicity (white Caucasian) and language (Spanish) and with mobile phone communication operative for at least 2 years.
La Ñora was chosen because it had the features of a small city, and was located near the capital (Murcia) in a rural environment without any particular health or environmental problems. Consequently, La Ñora was representative of small urban areas in eastern Spain with fewer than 20 000 inhabitants—such rural areas accounting for 19.8% of the population and 35.9% of the territory in Spain.
Two BS masts, each about 30 m height, were sited at different positions to provide GSM-900-1800 coverage.
The GSM 900 BS was positioned not before 1997 while the GSM 1800 BS was built in December 1999.
Data regarding the main demographic characteristics of the sample and their use of electronic devices was collected through a Spanish-language questionnaire.
All Gómez-Perretta C, Navarro EA, Segura J, et al. BMJ Open 2013;3:e003836. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2013-003836 Open Access Downloaded from bmjopen.bmj.com on December 31, 2013 – Published by group.bmj.com of the participants were of the same ethnic origin, shared similar family income levels and general standard of living, and were born in La Ñora or nearby.
All the residents in the study were living in the village before the erection of both BSs. All of the residents were at home for more than 8 h a day for at least 6 days a week and normally slept at home. The core of the questionnaire was a symptom checklist for estimating the frequency of health-related symptoms attributed to microwave sickness. These symptoms were fatigue, irritability, headaches, nausea, loss of appetite, sleep disorders, depressive tendency, dizziness, concentration difficulties, memory loss, skin lesions, visual and hearing deficiencies, walking difficulties and cardiovascular problems.
The frequency was quantified as never suffer = 0, sometimes = 1, often = 2 and very often =3.
The percentage of residents who reported electrical transformers less than 10 m from their home was 21.6%, while 42% reported high-voltage power lines less than 100 m from home. Finally, 40% of residents reported a TV transmitter within a radius of around 4 km.
The questionnaire included a statement that its purpose was health research and that the data gathered would be confidential. Some 215 questionnaires were randomly distributed through 17 streets representing practically the entire village. The houses were selected using a street map of the village. In total, 150 questionnaires were collected with the remainder being uncollected because nobody was at home (31) or there was a refusal by the householder to complete the questionnaire (34).
During 2001, 101 RF EMF measurements in bedrooms were made. The other (49) residents who refused admittance for taking the measurements (16) were not at home for the scheduled measurement appointment (10) or had serious health problems (23). However, some changes are now being introduced in this reanalysis. Thirteen of the participants included in the original study have now been eliminated: 2 participants were eliminated (one regarding alcohol abuse and another regarding pregnancy) to increase the requirement on health criteria and 11 participants were eliminated to increase the homogeneity of the RF EMFs measurements because there was a change (it was raining) in the usual dry weather conditions when the respective broadband measurements were registered. The reanalysis of the dataset, which is the main focus of this paper, was finally performed with 88 participants (45 women and 43 men) instead of the 101 analysed in 2001. Concerns about microwave exposure Sixty-six of the 88 participants were reached by telephone in February 2012 and asked two questions: A. Were you worried about the masts (BSs) when they were erected? B. Did you believe their radiation (BSs) could damage your health? In all cases, those who were worried about the masts were concerned about health consequences. Twentyseven participants (40.9%) responded ‘no’ and 39 (59.1%) responded ‘yes’. Responses were analysed relative to age (analysis of variance (ANOVA) test), sex (λ statistic) and subjective distance to BS (Somers’ D statistic).
Demographic data and the percentage of users of personal computers and mobile phones were analysed. The
mean age was 42 and 17 years (SD±17. 61, interval 15–81). Women totalled 51.1% (mean age=45.08 years,
SD=17.98; interval=15–81) and 48.9% were men (mean age = 39.12 years, SD=16.88; interval=15–75). A total of
13.6% participants regularly used computers and 23.9%used mobile phones.
No differences related with age and use of mobile phones or computers were found between the sexes.
The univariate logistic regression indicated that age was inversely associated with irritability (OR=0.97, 95%
CI 0.95 to 0.99) and that the oldest had the greatest difficulties hearing (OR=1.03, 95% CI 1.01 to 1.06) and
walking (OR=1.04, 95% CI 1.01 to 1.07). However,gender clearly did not influence the outcome of any
dependent variable. Use of mobile phones was linked with lack of appetite and vertigo, while worry about the
radiation from BSs was associated with trouble sleeping(table 1). However, concern about radiation from BSs
was unrelated to age (ANOVA test), sex (λ statistic) or subjective distance to BS (Somers’ D statistic).
Most of the symptoms were related with GSM exposure especially fatigue, irritability, lack of appetite,
trouble sleeping, depression and lack of concentration.
Change in– log likelihood showed similar results(table 2). Figure 1 shows the distribution of EMF measurements
throughout the sample.ROC curves for each of the logistic regression models (GSM exposure vs each symptom) oscillated between0 .65 and 0.87 (table 3). Headaches (0.84), nausea (0.86), appetite (0.87) and vascular problems (0.85) showed the highest values, while memory (0.67), skin (0.67) and visual disturbances (0.65) showed the lowest
The Hosmer and Lemeshow test indicated that most analyses showed no significant p values. The exceptions
were fatigue (0.003), depression (0.003) and vertigo (0.03). In the majority of the cases, the models
predicted better specificity than sensitivity. Only in the case of headaches and sleep disorder, did sensitivity
prevail over specificity (table 3—classification table). In the extreme case, skin and vascular problems showed
null or minimum sensitivity and 100% specificity.
Nagelkerke pseudo R2 showed acceptable coefficients with the exception of the symptoms related with vertigo
and skin problems (table 3).Threshold cut-off values of GSM for sleep, attention, irritability and memory are also shown (table 3). The remaining cut-off values were not considered since sensitivity or specificity was reported at below 0.50%.
This new study partially confirms our preliminary results about microwave sickness resulting from exposure to emissions from GSM mobile phone BSs. Fatigue, irritability, lack of appetite, sleep troubles, depression and lack of concentration were especially related with GSM exposure.
These results were independent of the main sociodemographic variables, other EMF exposures and anxiety
about being irradiated. Nevertheless, we confirm that apprehension about modern technology could predict
some symptoms, especially those related with sleep problems.
Our results agree with those who claimed that by distorting perceptions of risk, disproportionate precaution might
paradoxically lead to illness that would not otherwise occur.
However, health changes related with GSM exposure seem to occur in a manner unrelated with those fears.
Finally, exposure was very low during the period and also very low in comparison with Spanish recommendations
and international guidelines. file:///E:/MEDICAL/2013_subjective_symptoms_related_to_gsm_radiation_from_mobile_phone_base_stations1.pdf
Radiofrequency (RF) refers to the electromagnetic waves ranging between 10 MHz and 300 GHz. RF have been widely used as a signal carrier in telecommunications. Recent advances in mobile phone technology have resulted in the exponential use of mobile phone communication around the world. The increasing exposure of humans to RF fields has raised wide concerns for potential adverse effects of RF fields on human health (http://www.fcc.gov/oet/rfsafety, http://www.fda.gov/cdrh/phones/index.html, http://www.who.int/emf, http://www.iegmp.org.uk/, http://www.verum-foundation.de/).
While it is clear that high energy-electromagnetic waves, such as X-rays have strong biological effects through ionizing damage, it is uncertain whether the low energy, non-ionizing RF fields could have effects on biological systems. Several epidemiological studies suggest a link between long-term RF exposures and pathological consequences such as cancer [1–7]. Molecular studies also suggest the possible influence of RF fields on various aspects of biological activities [8–13]. Although these studies have provided many clues to the issue of RF biological effects, the results are inconclusive and even controversial.
In this study, we used genome-wide gene expression as the indicator to address the issue of biological effects of RF. We used a 2.45 GHz waveguide system to expose human HL-60 cells. We used the serial analysis of gene expression (SAGE) technique to analyze the RF effect on gene expression at the genome level . Although gene expression has been used as an indicator in previous RF studies, those studies focused only on a handful number of genes pre-selected with defined functions. We aim to provide genome-wide coverage of the expressed genes regardless their functional categories in the RF treated cells to address if RF has biological effects [15,16]. We consider it particularly important to use this approach for the subject that there is limited biological information available. Our study shows that under the conditions used in our experimental system, the 2.45 GHz RF fields caused the expression changes of a number of genes.
2 Materials and methods
2.1 Cell culture
Human HL-60 cell line was purchased from ATCC. Cells were cultured in the RPMI 1640 medium + 10% fetal bovine serum (FBS) in an incubator at 37 °C with 5% CO2. Cells used for experiments were at the exponential growth phase. Prior to RF exposure, cells were spanned down and re-suspended in 10 ml of fresh medium at the density of 106/ml. The cells were then transferred to a 25 ml culture flask for RF exposure.
2.2 RF exposure system
The RF exposure system used for experiments was described in detail (Gerber et al. manuscript in preparation). Briefly, the RF source was a pulsed magnetron (Cober Muegge). It was pulsed at duration of 155 μs and a duty cycle of 7.5%, producing a peak power of 3 W into the waveguide. The measured average power was 225 mW, of which 100 mW was absorbed by the 10 ml cell suspension to provide the average SAR value of 10 W/kg. Using the measured 2.61 S/m conductivity of the medium at 2.45 GHz with the 133 W/kg SAR during the pulse, the calculated electric field is 320 V/m. A control waveguide, identical to the experimental waveguide was used for a sham exposure. Restricted by the cost of SAGE experiment, only the 2-h sham exposed cells were used as the control for the 2 and 6 h RF exposed cells. A flask containing a 10 ml HL-60 cell suspension at 106/ml was placed inside a WR340 brass waveguide having inside dimensions of 86.36 × 43.18 mm. The cells were allowed to settle down to the bottom of the flask to form a monolayer before exposure. The bottom of the flask is ground flat and coated with mineral oil to obtain good thermal conduction between the cell monolayer and brass waveguide. The bottom of the waveguide has an exterior plastic water channel glued to it such that the turbulent flowing water is in direct contact with the brass surface. A 5% air–CO2 mixture was introduced into the waveguide through a hole in its top surface. The brass surface was maintained at 37 °C through the use of a temperature-controlled water circulator. Two temperature probes (Luxtron) were inserted into the bottom surface of the flask to monitor the temperature. The temperature was maintained at 37.2 ± 0.2 °C during the exposure period.
2.3 SAGE process
The SAGE process followed the standard procedures [14,17]. Briefly, it includes the following steps: mRNA isolation from the cells, cDNA synthesis, NlaIII digestion of cDNAs, 3′cDNA collection, tag releasing from 3′ cDNA, ditags formation, ditag concatemerization, cloning, and DNA sequencing. SAGE tag sequences were extracted from the raw sequences using SAGE300 software. The SAGE data is deposited in NCBI with accession number GSE3025 (www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/projects/geo).
2.4 SAGE data analysis
To determine the gene origin of SAGE tags, the experimental SAGE tags were matched to the SAGEmap database (www.ncbi.nlm.nih/SAGEmap). A SAGE tag is assigned to a gene if it has a match in the reference database; and a SAGE tags is defined as a novel tag if it has no match in the SAGEmap database. To identify a specific gene for the SAGE tags shared by multiple genes in SAGEmap database, these tags were matched to a tissue-specific SAGE annotation database under the cell type “HL-60” (www.basic.northwestern.edu/SAGE/). By using the microarray expression data from the specific tissue type to annotate the SAGE tags collected from the same tissue type, this database provides high accuracy of gene prediction for SAGE tags shared by multiple genes (Ge et al., manuscript in preparation). To identify the differences in SAGE tags between the control and exposed cells, the method of Audic and Claverie (; http://telethon.bio.unipd.it/bioinfo/IDEG6_form/), a statistical method designed for SAGE analysis, was used for the comparison under P < 0.05 as the cut-off. Greater than 4-fold differences between samples was set as the second cut-off threshold to provide high confidence for the identification of alternatively expressed genes between different samples. To visualize the changes of gene expression, the “Cluster” and “Treeview” programs were used to generate the average linkage hierarchical clustering using Pearson’s correlation coefficient as a distance metrics . The Gene Ontology “biological process” terms were used to identify the functional categories of RF-response genes at P < 0.05 (; http://www.geneontology.org
Recently we found out the news via Ann Marie Carey that Mark Steele had been contacted by Bemri, Bio Electromagnetic experts with 60 + years of experience in EMF research. Their kind offer to come to Gateshead for free, and measure RFs coming from the street lights, to test for any possible anomalies that could be 5G was rejected by Mark. Im sure I was not the only one shocked by this news.
Having been previously involved in getting Mark some interviews with a couple of well respected alternative media news sites Windows on the World Mark Alexander Scott and BCfm Politics Show with Tony Gosling, I was gutted to hear that Mark had not only declined their offer to meet up, but had accused them of not knowing anything about 5G.
Living about 10 mins from Gateshead myself, I offered to meet one of the guys from Bemri, and take him to the places where Mark got his EMF readings in the 700Mhz range. Bemri used specialist sensitive equipment, including a log par directional meter and many other measuring devices. The RF readings were similar to Marks, but it was noted that there were huge mobile masts in each of the locations, which would have affected the readings. Also did Mark film his videos of EMF readings with a smart phone? Again this would interfere with the readings. He refuses to answer that question when I asked but he did call me ‘desperate’ for assuming so. Bemri obtained many readings, some with a smart phone switched on close to the meter. And yes, with the smart phone on, readings were in the 700Mhz range, similar to Marks.
During the visit to Gateshead, there were no anomalies picked up by the EMF equipment and a conclusion was made that no 5G signals were picked up, only 4G. The lamp posts were acknowledged to be emitting these RFs.
Annie and myself were very grateful to Bemri for taking the time to test the lights in Gateshead, and Stockport was found to have similar results from their antenna’d LED lamp posts too.
I have spoken to Mark Steele after Bemri’s visit and listened to his response. He still believes these people do not know what 5G is, and questions their expertise.
I, on the other hand question Marks choices he has made, in the fight to stop 5G. At no point during his interviews, did Mark choose to mention Annie’s FB group or her campaign resources. She had asked him to and he said he would, but he didn’t. Why would you do that to a fellow campaigner? It makes no sense. I would have thought that was a golden opportunity to let audiences of the shows know how they could get active on the street, handing out leaflets, making people aware of the 5G issue etc. Instead Mark used the platform to ask people to join his political party. A party that has 3 years to try getting to parliament to stop 5G, when 5G has a proposed roll out date of 2020. I joined this party a while back, but received no email newsletters.
I’ve stated facts here about the Gateshead 5G lamps visit by Bemri, and I’ve given only a small fraction of my opinion on Mark Steele. People will make up their own minds on him.
With recent advances in millimeter-wave technology, including the availability of high-power sources, in this band, it has become necessary to understand the biological implications of this energy for human beings. This paper gives the millimeter-wave absorption efficiency for the human body with and without clothing. Ninety to ninety-five percent of the incident energy may be absorbed in the skin with dry clothing, with or without an intervening air gap, acting as an impedance transformer. On account of the submillimeter depths of penetration in the skin, superficial SAR’s as high as 65-357 W/Kg have been calculated for power density of incident radiation corresponding to the ANSI guideline of 5 mW/cm/sup 2/. Because most of the millimeter-wave absorption is in the region of the cutaneous thermal receptors (0.1-1.0 mm), the sensations of absorbed energy are likely to be similar to those of IR. For the latter, threshold of heat perception is near 0.67 mW/cm/sup 2/, with power densities on the order of 8.7 mW/cm/sup 2/ likely to cause sensations of ”very warm to hot” with a latency of 1.0 +- 0.6 s. Calculations are made for thresholds of hearing of pulsed millimeter waves. Pulsed energy densities of 143/579 ..mu..J/cm/sup 2/ are obtained for the frequency band 30-300 GHz. These are 8-28 times larger than the threshold for microwaves below 3 GHz. The paper also points to the need for evaluation of ocular effects of millimeter-wave irradiation because of high SAR’s in the cornea.
Gandhi, O.P., and Riazi, A.. Absorption of millimeter waves by human beings and its biological implications. United States: N. p., 1986. Web. doi:10.1109/TMTT.1986.1133316.
Arousing from their very deep slumber, MSM is finally covering the environmental impacts of wireless and what 5g will mean to wildlife.
“Technology is quite literally destroying nature, with a new report further confirming that electromagnetic radiation from power lines and cell towers can disorientate birds and insects and destroy plant health. The paper warns that as nations switch to 5G this threat could increase.”
“This is not a new finding, as studies dating back for years have come to the same conclusion. In fact, one study from 2010 even suggested that this electromagnetic radiation may be playing a role in the decline of certain animal and insect populations. The radio waves can disrupt the magnetic ‘compass’ that many migrating birds and insects use. The creatures may become disorientated, AFP reported.”
Exclusive: five-year ‘enhanced clearance’ programme targets trees along 20,000 miles of track to avoid delays, according to an internal document
Network Rail is to target all “leaf fall” trees for removal alongside its tracks in a new £800m five-year programme of “enhanced clearance”, according to an internal document seen by the Guardian.
The policy document for 2019-24 emerged as the environment secretary, Michael Gove, summoned the chief executive of Network Rail for talks over their approach to environmental management following revelations about tree felling across the country by the Guardian.
After discussions with Network Rail, Jo Johnson, the rail minister, set up a review into vegetation management . He called for all tree felling to be suspended during the current nesting season – March to August.
Johnson said: “This review will look at all aspects of this issue, including, for instance, whether Network Rail has the capacity and capability to control vegetation in a way that minimises harm to wildlife, and whether staff need more training to help with tree identification and identifying approaches that would be better than felling.”
The leaked document seen by the Guardian sets out a new programme which appears to go further than any current environmental management. It involves an “enhanced level of clearance” of trees and vegetation from the railway banks along 20,000 miles of lines in the UK, in an attempt to deal with costly delays to services.
The document says Network Rail has to manage the risk from 13 million trees within falling distance of its tracks. If they removed 2% of the trees a year over the five-year period, more than 1 million trees could be felled.
“Network Rail is responsible for any damage that they may cause unless it can be robustly demonstrated that it has taken reasonable steps to reduce the risk of that damage occurring,” the document states.
Network Rail said in a statement that it was constantly balancing the needs of the environment against passenger health and safety.
Key species of tree to be targeted for removal are those which the company says are high risk due to the amount and size of leaves they produce. They include sycamore, poplar, horse and sweet chestnut, ash and lime.
Network Rail bosses say in the document they need to reduce the risk of leaves and trees falling on to the lines, improve performance and safety and cut the hundreds of millions of pounds it pays in compensation – called schedule 8 payments – for delays.
Entitled Lineside Asset Management Control Period 6 (CP6), the policy involves the “removal of all leaf fall species” within falling distance of the track, “intensive intervention” on vegetation in close proximity to the railway and the removal of emergent lower level growth at the earliest stage.
The boundary for management of scrub, grasses, trees and shrubs will also increase from five metres either side of the railway – which has been the policy for the last five years – to a minimum of 6.5m.
The document concludes that the initial level of investment – £41,000 per mile of track for the enhanced clearance – will result in “a far better performing, safer railway”.
Grasses and scrubland alongside Britain’s railway lines are made up of more than 1,600 species of plants, including 900 varieties known of as “railway species” that are exclusive to the trackside.
Senior politicians have been in discussions with the publicly owned company over the scale of its vegetation clearance after the Guardian revealed last week millions of trees are at risk.
Gove invited Mark Carne, chief executive of Network Rail, for talks at his office on Wednesday.
Details of the new planned trackside clearances come as a petition calling on Network Rail to “stop chopping down millions of trees” attracted more than 60,000 signatures.
The scale of felling taking place in the five years to the end of 2018 is not known. Network Rail has not responded to requests to provide the Guardian with an aerial map highlighting “problem” trees earmarked for felling, or reveal how many have been removed in the last year.
A freedom of information response revealed that 30,000 trees were felled by Network Rail or their contractors on the west coast mainline between Euston and Carlisle in the 12 months between February 2016 and February 2017.
Network Rail said there were no plans to replace any of the trees in its FOI response.
Network Rail says in the document it will adhere to environmental legislation which requires it to restrict practices at certain locations or certain times of the year. It says the risks to poor performance and safety from trees includes obstruction of the line, causing delays and putting staff and passengers at risk.
Between March 2016 and March 2017 there were 720 incidents with trees, according to the document. Of these 233 trees were struck by trains. “The likelihood of a tree failure causing an accident is high,” the document states.
The company says the impact from falling leaves in the autumn of 2015 involved four signals passed at danger, 91 wrong side failures and 61 station overruns due to poor rail adhesion attributed to leaf fall contamination.
These incidents, it says, cost Network Rail between £100m and £150m.
Network Rail says in the document that trees and vegetation can have a positive benefit in terms of lineside ecology where desirable flora and fauna has been identified and sustainable management plans have been put into place. It also states the company will “manage the vegetation to comply with legal requirements to protect the environment.”
A spokesperson for Network Rail said it was constantly balancing the needs of the environment with passenger safety and welcomed Johnson’s review.
“Last year we recorded over 400 incidents of trains colliding with fallen trees and another 1,000 where they caused delays to services, costing the industry over £100m. As a result, we have well thought-out standards and policies in place that have been developed over many years with the help of experts that we believe strike the right balance and maintains a safe and biodiverse line side.
“Most of the time when putting those standards and policies into action we get it right, but sometimes we don’t.”
Sara Lom, chief executive of the Tree Council, which works closely with Network Rail, has not seen the new policy document. She said: “We are Network Rail’s critical friend. When things go wrong, as they sometimes do, we tell them.”
She said the charity was carrying out trials with the company this autumn to look at different ways to manage vegetation apart from tree felling. “Alternatives to removal could be coppicing or pollarding or hedging,” she said. “That is better for wildlife, and better for people in the local community.”
There is no consistent evidence to date that exposure to RF signals from Wi-Fi and WLANs adversely affect the health of the general population.
Two studies found changes in human electrical brain activity as a result of exposure to Wi-Fi/2.4GHz signals and two found abnormal human heart rates in some people. These studies, backed up by many more carried out on mobile phones and other radiofrequency (RF) signals, are enough to raise serious concerns about the safety of Wi-Fi for use in schools.
“The precautionary principle applies where scientific evidence is insufficient, inconclusive or uncertain andpreliminary scientific evaluation indicates that there are reasonable grounds for concern that the potentially dangerous effects on the environment, human, animal or plant health may be inconsistent with the high level of protection chosen.”
“Let me be very clear. The Industry has NOT said once, ONCE, that cell phones are safe”.
Excerpt from the lecture ; https://www.judiciary.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/chc-speech-future-of-law-lecture-may-2018-1.pdf
We have recently seen the impact that digital disclosure of mobile phone records has had on rape prosecutions.One change in behaviour is already having a big impact on the eradication of contested criminal cases. Most people carry their smartphones on their person at all times with their GPS location switched on. They do this voluntarily, but if the legislators were, for example, to require citizens to carry phones at all time, it would be even more difficult to avoid detection.With or without such a rule, as the location of all persons is continuously uploaded to the cloud, there will anyway be far fewer identity issues in criminal cases.
A former salesman is suing Nokia for as much as £1million over claims heavy mobile phone use caused his brain tumour.
Neil Whitfield, 60, is believed to be the first Brit to sue a mobile phone company on such grounds and if he succeeds it could cost the industry millions.
The father-of-six, of Wigan, Greater Manchester, became deaf in one ear after an operation to remove an acoustic neuroma tumour in 2001.