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Alasdair's EMF Musings
Alasdair Philips is qualified in both Electrical and Electronic Engineering and in Agricultural Engineering. Since 1986 he has built up a considerable knowledge of EMF bioeffects, and is one of the leading 'alternative' voices on the subject in the UK. Alasdair is a member of SAGE (the UK Department of Health Stakeholder Group on ELF EMFs) and a member of the UK Health Protection Agency's EMF Discussion Group. Powerwatch is used as a forum for a small group of knowledgeable engineers and scientists who are concerned about the consequences of irradiated 'blue world' we are creating.
Alasdair's EMF musings: Index
Alzheimer's Disease, powerlines and EMF exposure - 12/11/2008 11:33:16
It is time to ban the building houses or powerlines within 50 metres of each other
What is the point of dialogue? - 30/01/2008 13:09:14
HPA over-writes SAGE advice and insults other participants
Ben Goldacre's own Bad Science - 26/05/2007 12:43:27
Guardian tabloid scribblings at their worst
Shocking laptops - 09/02/2007 13:03:01
High voltages appear on some laptops
Not in my backyard! - 26/08/2006 07:20:20
Experts sometimes don't like to take their own advice
WiFi to cover the UK - 16/08/2006 15:54:36
It is coming to get you - zapppp!
Peer Review and quality of science - 07/08/2006 16:02:17
Peer review all too often seems to be a nominal procedure that does not protect society from inadequate science
Q-link, Bio-Pro and other 'gizmos' - 24/07/2006 12:08:13
Yet another groan - why are people so easily taken in?
COMARE 11th Report - 21/07/2006 17:25:48
COMARE at last admits that clusters of child cancer cases are real, but spin predictably about the possible causes
Alasdair's EMF musings: Full Entries
# Alzheimer's Disease, powerlines and EMF exposure [Back to Index]
Posted at: 12/11/2008 11:33:16 :: 0 Comments ::
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During the SAGE process (see below and the hyperlink on the news story) there were a number of debates about two scenarios: "CL" and CL+".
CL only accepted the association of power-frequency magnetic fields with childhood leukaemia and no other suggested adverse health outcomes. CL+ included a number of other adverse health outcomes that had been associated with electric or magnetic field exposure in at least two peer-reviewed published papers. Despite agreeing to both scenarios at two plenary meetings, CL+ was effectively relegated to the background in the final report - there was a strong division of opinion on this matter. This paragraph is from the SAGE Report (page 13):
"At levels below about one microtesla, well below those required to interfere with nerves through induced fields, there are numerous suggestions of other effects on people. Historically, early suggestions concerned childhood cancer, and childhood leukaemia in particular. Other health outcomes for which, with varying degrees of certainty, there have been suggested links to ELF EMFs include (in alphabetical order): adult leukaemia, adult brain cancer, Alzheimer's disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, the most common form of motor neurone disease), breast cancer, other childhood cancers, depression, electrical sensitivity symptoms, certain types of heart disease, miscarriage, and suicide."
The cost-benefit calculations did not show a positive gain when only considering childhood leukaemia (note: though SAGE did point out that financial cost-benefit was not the only appropriate consideration for governments to take into account in matters of public health and well-being).
Now we have this large Swiss epidemiological study showing a statistically significant doubling of the risk of dying from Alzheimer's disease if you live for 15 years within 50 metres of a high-voltage powerline. This completely changes the cost-benefit balance. Dementia is estimated to cost the UK economy over Â£17 billion pounds (GBP) per year.
The time has come for an immediate ban on further building of houses or powerlines within 50 metres of each other - at least for a 5-year moratorium which would be likely to cost considerably less than Â£1bn in development compensation over the five years.
A proper sum (say in the order of Â£10M) should be set aside for a major epidemiological / ecological study into Alzheimer's Disease and power-frequency magnetic fields. If AD is really associated with long-term EMF exposure then we need to confirm this and in the meantime we should be taking steps to minimise people exposure - and that includes magnetic fields from underground power cables, electrical equipment and appliances and house wiring.
At least UK three Government Ministers (DH, DCLG, BERR/DECC) are shortly due to meet to discuss the response to the SAGE Report and they have promised to make a public response by the end of 2008. They should now urgently be briefed on this latest Swiss research and the economic implications. On the 10th November, a Department of Health spokesperson told the UK Daily Express that it was reviewing its position in the light of this new Swiss study. It is certainly right to do so.
# What is the point of dialogue? [Back to Index]
Posted at: 30/01/2008 13:09:14 :: 0 Comments ::
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I have spent the last few years mostly working quietly behind the scenes, trying to move official UK policies towards a more precautionary approach to human EMF exposure issues.
One of the groups I took part in was the MOA (Mobile Operators Association) Stakeholder Group - that eventually came out with the "Ten Commitments", none of which minimised the network transmission power and some of which most of the Operators regularly still do not always comply with.
Another group is the UK Health Protection Agency (HPA) EMF Discussion Group. Despite repeatedly discussing what is needed in WiFi and health research, last autumn they managed to extract about GBP 300000 of taxpayers' money from the Department of Health to carry out research into just measuring the signals and making no attempt to record reported health effects. We expect to post a detailed item on this scandalous delaying tactic shortly.
Now we have another example of the HPA's unco-operative "up yours" attitude. It concerns a planning application to a local council in Oxfordshire (see Powerwatch News of 30 Jan 2008). All they needed to have written was the final paragraph on page 5 of their letter that agrees with the WSP recommendations and confirmed that the suggested guideline distance of 74 metres from the powerline to the edge of the development (to quote:) "is in fact very conservative in terms of tcurrent UK EMF exposure guidelines".
Instead, they spend 5 pages criticising the survey, the EMF meter used (which I happened to design many years ago), the scientific evidence that SAGE considered, disparage highly vocal activists (like Powerwatch), scientists like Professor Denis Henshaw (who is named and most unreasonably criticised). They spout their age-old (and out of date, in my opinion) "scientific orthodoxy". I have to ask "why?".
The only answer I can come up with is that they want to over-ride the SAGE output and continue to be the lone voice that matters on EMF and health advice in the UK. In which case, what was the point of the time (lots of it given free by most of the pro-precaution people) and the cost (quite large for London venue hire etc) of the Department of Health SAGE process?
I am currently (January 2008) on the small "process management" group trying to take the SAGE process forward. I have to seriously ask myself "why bother?".
# Ben Goldacre's own Bad Science [Back to Index]
Posted at: 26/05/2007 12:43:27 :: 12 Comments ::
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So, Dr Ben Goldacre gets it wrong, again and again. He spells "metres" as "meters" (USA spelling - in the Guardian?!), he described our carbon-base paint as "lead paint" (it contains no lead) and our silver plated net curtains as "foil-lined" (these have now been corrected by him after I pointed out the product description errors). Cached Badscience
Please read our full response to Ben.
Both the bobbinet curtain material and the paint that EMFields sells have been tested and are widely used by the military from the UK and all over Europe and the US to protect equipment and people against electromagnetic fields from EMP weapons and non-lethal microwave weaponry. They find them effective. Bad science? Scam products? Tell it to the marines! The products are expensive to make and so are expensive to purchase - it would be great if we could find cheaper alternatives that work anything like as effectively. We also tell people about using aluminium cooking foil (which, funnily enough, people buy from Tesco and not us) to screen walls which is inexpensive and effective.
He manages to effectively dismiss Sir William Stewart's concerns. Sir William, current Chair of the UK Health Protection Agency, was a Chief UK Scientist under two Prime Ministers and also ran the MoD's DSTL Porton Down Biological and Chemical Warfare Labs for many years - indeed he is still involved with them. On what basis does Ben Goldacre feel qualified to rubbish the views of Sir William on scientific matters?
He dismisses my measurements and criticises the COM monitor. The measurements used by Panorama for the comparison were actually made on an expensive top-of-the-range Anritsu 2721A Spectrum Analyser with a calibrated antennna and are in line with measurements made by other professional RF engineers.
A bit about my background: I grew up with RF and radio and thought electronics and technology were the best. I was making walkie talkies while still at school in the early 1960s, and have since designed multi-million selling pieces of electronics from audio equipment to early computer systems - including one of the Tardis (yes, really, the Dr WHO time travel machine!) control computers. I have also spent years doing detailed EMC (look it up) measurements and helping companies meet EC/EU and UK legislation on EMF (not health) matters. In some ways I am a real techie/geek, but I am also open to a change of opinion when I see the potential dangers of the electrosmog we are now being submerged in. I am in favour of young people (and everybody) using networked and internet enabled computers. In most schools classrooms, wired ethernet could easily be used instead of WiFi - that would be faster and not subject the pupils to pulsing microwaves.
Yes, we do sell and hire things that we believe can help people who are concerned about being affected by electromagnetic fields. We are open about it, and the reasons for doing so, on our Powerwatch home page - it has never been a secret. Until ES/EHS is recognised as a problem by the NHS it is almost impossible to get grants for our sort of informational work. The ES-UK Charity has repeatedly had grants turned down for this sort of reason, and survives only on occasional donations and good will and the caring work of Rod Read and family.
As for Dr Ben Goldacre, he seems more of a cynical commentator than someone whose writings should be taken too seriously.
Alasdair (This page was edited on 29 May 2007)
Please read our full response to Ben's writings.
# Shocking laptops [Back to Index]
Posted at: 09/02/2007 13:03:01 :: 2 Comments ::
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There have been recent postings on internet bulletin boards about high voltages being meaured on some laptop computers (particularly Dell ones) when connected to their mains power supplies (PSUs).
This is an issue that we have been concerned about for years. It arises from most (but not all) laptop PSUs having only a two-wire connection to the mains supply. They are what is called "double insulated" and do not require an safety earth connection. Unfortunately this also means that the low-voltage supply to the laptop then "floats" to typically half the mains supply voltage (i.e. about 115 volts AC in the UK. There is not enough current to electrocute you, but it does expose you to high levels of electric fields of several hundreds of volts per metre at your hands (and lap). I believe that this is not good for your health and well-being.
We have measured our new Dell (an Inspiron 1501 with a PA-12 PSU) and, sure enough, the video socket screws on it measured 111 volts AC to Earth. We then tried our other two (both Novatech of differnt vintages) and they were 85 and 0.002 volts AC. The low voltage one had a proper 3-pin (not double-insulated) power supply.
There is no need or excuse for these power-supplies to be double insulated - indeed as the connectors on the laptop are connected to the PSU output, I wonder whether this is, in fact, legally double-insulated at all. All desk PCs have proper Earthed power supplies, with all their exposed metal parts being properly Earthed. So, if you are buying a new laptop, we suggest that you choose one with a 3-pin mains connector on the PSU. If not, then we suggest you always use a safety Earthing Lead when you use your laptop with its mains PSU.
To make and earthing Lead, connect a wire (best to use an 'Earth coloured' wire - green with yellow tracer) from the Earth pin of a mains plug to a crocodile clip (or similar) that you attach to one of the screen fixings next to the external video ouput connector (the 15-way miniature D connector). This will reduce this stray voltage to zero.
EMFIELDS can provide such a lead if you want a quick and easy solution. Email email@example.com for details and costs. It will be added to the website soon.
# Not in my backyard! [Back to Index]
Posted at: 26/08/2006 07:20:20 :: 0 Comments ::
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I have often noticed that politicians and 'experts' apply different rules to themselves and their families than they use when advising or deciding on policy for the general public. Professor Sianette Kwee has just sent me the following from Denmark:
Professor J. Bach Andersen from Aalborg University was the chief adviser for the Danish government when they sold the 3G licences. At the same time he had been working for years for several phone companies (Siemens, TDC etc.) In the expertsâ€™ report he wrote that 3G radiation is completely harmless. During all the years he persisted that there was no scientific proof that EMF had any health effects, and certainly 3G was the most harmless.
Particularly he made fun of all those who said that masts are dangerous and of scientists who got positive results on RFâ€™s biological effects. Therefore he was put in charge of the administration of the projects financed by the white-washing money given to the experts who wrote the report.
It now happens that the site of one of TDCâ€™s, (the Danish phone company) 3G masts in Aalborg is near a school and kindergarten and also quite near Bach Andersenâ€™s home. The parents and residents arranged a protest meeting and not only the press was there, but also Bach Andersen.
In the interview he said to the journalist that though there was still no proof and sufficient research that there were any health effects from masts, one has to apply the Precautionary principle. So in this case the concerns of the residents should be taken seriously. Of course this had nothing to do with the fact that his house was so close to the planned mast!
And, what a surprise - the journalist never asked him why this change of mind on the health effects of RF.
I have noticed many of the researchers into cellphone effects who say that there are none, still minimise their cellphone use and often use a hands-free kit. Just being prudent, of course.
And the Institution of Electrical and Electronic Engieers (IEEE) latest RF/MW exposure standard C95.1-2005 came with the following reassuring warranty (info thanks to Don Maisch). To quote:
"Use of an IEEE Standard is wholly voluntary. The IEEE disclaims liability for any personal injury, property or other damage, of any nature whatsoever, whether special, indirect, consequential, or compensatory, directly or indirectly resulting from the publication, use of, or reliance upon this, or any other IEEE Standard document. The IEEE does not warrant or represent the accuracy or content of the material contained herein, and expressly disclaims any express or implied warranty, including any implied warranty of merchantibility or fitness for a specific purpose, or that the use of the material contained herein is free from patent infringement. IEEE Standards documents are supplied 'AS IS'."
Well, now that is reassuring!
# WiFi to cover the UK [Back to Index]
Posted at: 16/08/2006 15:54:36 :: 0 Comments ::
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Day by day I hear tales of more and more microwave applications, all of which are increasing the electrosmog that surrounds us.
As a result, apart from our health probably being adversely affected, more and more power is needed to keep existing applications working. A good example is that they have now increased the power in motor vehicle "key-fob" immobiliser / alarm units, that we all have and use, from 0.25 mW to 10 mW for all new vehicles. This is so that the receiver sensitivity in the car/vehicle can be reduced to help avoid TETRA and other radio applications causing increasing interference problems. So we now have a 40-fold increase in transmitted power (albeit, still a low level, but good news for the key-fob battery manufacturers and not for a sustainable world) in order for the signal to cut through the thick electrosmog to make it to the car.
The Office of Communications (Ofcom) have issued a study which investigated the options for permitting much higher power WiFi and wLAN power levels in the 2.4 GHz and 5.x GHz bands for license-exempt applications. The power levels they have been considering do greatly concern me. It seems the world is intent on microwave zapping everybody.
We are told that Ofcom and the Government see the adoption of broadband as a national priority. They want it to reach into all distant corners of the UK, whether you want it or not. Many rural communities do not currently have access to BT DSL or cable and, apparently, they MUST have it - satellite broadband is often the only option at present. Currently Wireless Broadband Access (WBA) operators may use 2.4GHz for providing services but maximum EIRP is limited to 100mW. WBA services may also be provided at 5.8GHz where the maximum EIRP is 2W. The frequency bands examined were 2.4GHz, and 5GHz band A (5150-5350MHz), band B (5470-5725MHz and band C (5725-5875MHz). Band A is currently allowed for WLAN but restricted to 200mW and indoor use only. Nomadic Radio LANs (RLANs) may be used in band B outdoor and the maximum EIRP is 1W.
The report considers scenarios where up to 80 watts at 2.4 GHz and 200 watts at 5-6 GHz are allowed. This represents a possible radiated power increase of 800-fold at 2.4 GHz and 200-fold at 5.x GHz. These are for devices that anybody will be able to purchase and install. They are "license exempt". Even your friendly neighbours could install them.
OK, probably the final agreed figure will probably be lower than these extremes, but reading the report I would not be surprised at a general 100-fold allowed increase. And that is without the fast spread of WiMAX in the 3.5-3.6 GHz band which is already allowed 40 watt EIRP transmitters.
A "blue world", indeed, and one becoming more blue, week by week.
Ofcom keep an online profile of their latest progress on key sprectrum initiatives.
The original news story on the BBC can be found at
# Peer Review and quality of science [Back to Index]
Posted at: 07/08/2006 16:02:17 :: 0 Comments ::
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The other evening I was talking to a Council about mobile phone masts and health and there was a senior scientific representative of the HPA also talking. He kept banging on about only accepting the results of proper peer-reviewed science published in good quality scientific journals.
His organisation has recently had a version of their microcell and picocell base station investigation published in a reasonable quality scientific journal. (Journal of Radiological Protection, 26 (2006) 199-211). Even though this does admit that low-height, low power, base station do often expose the public to higher levels of microwave radiation than larger macrocell masts, they did not actually assess the more powerful low-height base stations that are located around Britain.
This was with the connivance of the UK MTHR committee who funded the study:
... "In compiling the cohort, it was noted that there were some 2000 of the 32,837 base stations, or around 6%, radiating more than 5 W at heights up to 10 m. In consultation with the MTHR project monitors, it was considered whether these transmitters should have been included in the cohort. It was decided that they should not and that this project should concentrate on the low power sites in order to stay true to its original aim of considering microcells as low height / low power transmitters."
Earlier, the NRPB had published a report R321 on public microwave exposure from base stations where they state (page 10) that: "microcellular antennas are expected to radiate no more than a few watts."
Apparently the high-power low-height base stations that they identified did not comply with this as they radiated far too much power, and so they chose to ignore them.
Is this meant to be good scientific method, as used by the HPA and suggested by the UK MTHR? To ignore what is inconvenient (as it would raise real questions about public safety) and which does not match their original ideas about microcells?
They did not even suggest and/or carry out a Part 2 survey that just looked at these previously identified but ignored most highly radiating transmitters. That would have been scientifically and ethically appropriate. Instead, they just ignored them. I think this is near to being criminal negligence. The HPA is there to help guide the levels of protection given by Government to members of the general public, and their staff (Tim Cooper, Simon Mann and colleagues) identified a problem, tried to cover it up using the MTHR opinion as an excuse, and did not even investigate how bad the problem was. This is even after they had admitted that the low-power microcells expose the public to higher levels of microwave phone-mast signals than the larger macrocell masts. They only considered base station radiating up to 5 watts, but admitted in Figure 2 in their fuller report, published in September 2004 as NRPB W-62 (freely downloadable from the HPA website), that some have radiated powers of over 100 watts - i.e. over 20 times more powerful. Yet two years on, a shorter version of the W-62 report is published in a peer reviewed journal. Two years when they could have much more usefully (from the general public's radiation protection point of view) have carried out and published a report showing what the highest of the low-height base station are exposing the public to.
The MTHR are even more guilty than the HPA staff of covering up this problem. It is a great shame that the MTHR committee, under Professor Lawrie Challis, does not include good quality lay members as the original IEGMP under Sir William Stewart did. Instead, it is made up of senior members of the scientific community - the very people who often peer review papers for the better scientific journals. Yet these scientists choose not to fund further work into the higher-power low-height base stations. And we are expected to trust them and their half-truths.
I first reported on their W62 report in February 2005:
The cellular phone industry should not install these high powers on such low height base-stations. The HPA-RPD should be saying that loudly and clearly. Instead, not only is it silent but it is choosing to allow its staff to publish science that is highly misleading.
Another example that was mentioned was the large "Interphone" mobile phone study. This is a multi-country and multi-agency study and various papers have so far been published "finding no evidence of an increase in cancer from up to 10 years of mobile phone use". However, they include very low use in their "user" group and completely ignore (in the official Interphone protocol) any cordless phone use - and DECT cordless phones and their base units often expose users to higher fields that they receive from a mobile phone in towns and cities near a base station (because DECT handsets do not have adaptive power control). The form of radiation (frequency and characteristics) is very similar to that from a mobile phone. Yet they ignore this large group of people who must seriously confound their analyses. Not part of the Interphone Group, Hardell and colleages have published a number of papers showing that over 5 years of cordless phone use does increase the chance of developing brain cancer. Yet the HPA spokesman told us that the Interphone study is offering the best proof that mobile phones cannot harm us. I see it as significantly flawed. Some of the Interphone papers have been published in the BMJ and these and other problems can be read about in the correspondence. The BMJ should be be praised for its letters and 'fast responses' web publishing which provides good public scientific debate on these contentious points. Yet, doubtless, the rest of the Interphone studies will be held up by industry and people like the HPA and WHO as "gospel".
Other MTHR projects use the flawed MTHR handset design as regards testing people for electrical sensitivity. In "sham" (= "no exposure") mode it actually works at full microwave transmission power and dumps this power into an internal dummy load rather than sending it to the antenna. So although it does give off about 1000 times less than when transmitting at full power, the remaining levels are still well above the levels at which ES people react. The MTHR committee can't seem to get it out of their minds that non-thermal effects are just that - non-thermal. 1000 times less is no good if it is still above the claimed sensitivity threshold - which it certainly is - and this is also documented on the BMJ fast responses site.
All in all, the MTHR does not seem to be intent on getting a better understanding of these matters.
In the New Scientist magazine, 04 January 1992, p39, we can read an interesting early example of bad peer review. I extract some of it below.
Among the papers of the UK Medical Research Council is a grant application submitted by the then Regius Professor of Anatomy at the London College of Physicians, one Guilielmus Harveius. The evaluation the MRC's external referee is given below; according to MRC rules, his name is withheld.
Title of proposed research
Anatomical exercises concerning the motion of the heart and blood.
Guilielmus Harveius, BA (Cantab 1597), MD (Padua 1602).
Summary of proposed research
The applicant intends to perform a series of experiments on animals to provide evidence for, and to confirm, some of the postulates concerning the flow of blood and the function of the heart which he has publicised in his position as Lumleian Lecturer at the Royal College of Physicians since 1615, namely that, (1), the volume of blood which passes from the veins to the arteries per unit time is too great to be produced from the food consumed, (2), the volume of blood going into the extremities is far in excess of their actual metabolic needs, and (3), arterial blood returns to the heart from the extremities through the veins.
Dr Harvey will measure the volume of blood he claims is ejected by the heart, per beat and per time. He also plans to study the emptying and subsequent refilling of superficial blood vessels in the forearm and he hopes that he will find a pattern such as to support his notion of the circulation as a hydraulic system.
Experience and qualifications of applicant
Dr H. is a distinguished anatomist, has been appointed the King's Physician in Ordinary and practises general medicine at St Bartholomew's Hospital in London. However, he has not received any formal training in physiology and he is not known as an astute experimentalist.
Critical evaluation of proposed research
The applicant's theory re the existence of a contiguous circulatory system challenges the view, held by all physicians since Galen, that venous blood is alimentary, produced in the liver from food absorbed in the intestines, and endowed with the spirit of vitality through a connection with the arterial system provided by pores in the walls which separate the heart's three ventricles. He claims never to have observed pores or holes in the heart, a statement that is contradicted directly by my own vast professional experience: I find a direct connection between one of the arteries and the principal vein right above the heart in the majority of autopsy cases available for study.
By contrast, I have never seen any evidence for the existence of blood vessels providing a link between arteries and veins in the periphery of the body, as is stipulated by the scheme of Dr H.
The opinions expressed in the application are highly speculative. Critical to the applicant's theory is a presumed connection between the arterial and venous sides in the periphery of the putative circulation. Given the facts that the applicant has not had any postdoctoral training, has practically no research experience and has no publications by which to judge his research competency.
I therefore give the application as submitted a rating of 3 on a scale of 1 (low) to 10 (high score) and I recommend that funding be denied.
Date: 16 March 1618; Signature: ......(not published)
William Harvey (April 1, 1578-June 3, 1657) is credited with first correctly describing, in exact detail, the properties of blood being pumped around the body by the heart. Harvey announced his discovery of the circulatory system in 1616 and in 1628 published his work Exercitatio Anatomica de Motu Cordis et Sanguinis in Animalibus (An Anatomical Exercise on the Motion of the Heart and Blood in Animals), where, based on scientific methodology, he argued for the idea that blood was pumped around the body by the heart before returning to the heart and being recirculated in a closed system.
Sadly, I see little evidence that the state of Peer Review has improved much since 1618. In some ways it is worse, because there are now such vast numbers of scientific papers published each year that no one can keep up with reading or remembering them and powerful vested interests help spread scientific urban myths of safety. It is often almost impossible to tell which papers are soundly based on reality / real world conditions and which are just research exercises to add papers to researchers' publication lists to help with their career advancement. I am not saying that the researchers are deliberately being misleading - often the advice they are given in how to do / what to measure / etc., by the so-called experts in any particular field is just plain wrong. I have seen many examples of this.
Instead of being a critical examination of the authors' submitted research, Peer Review is all too often a hurried quick-look-through of work by over-busy scientists of work done by friends and/or colleagues of friends that then proceeds to publication with minimal, or no, challenges and changes.
I leave you with something Sir Richard Doll once wrote, tongue in cheek, in the NRPB's Journal of Radiological Protection. It went along the lines: "When you are young, you read everybody's (scientific) papers; when you get established, you read your own and your peer's papers; when you get old, you don't even bother to read your own."
# Q-link, Bio-Pro and other 'gizmos' [Back to Index]
Posted at: 24/07/2006 12:08:13 :: 9 Comments ::
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A few chat forums have recently started to debate the Q-link products (yet again).
My response (July 2006) was:
BioPro and Q-Link?
I wouldn't go near that stuff with a very long pole. We have had an example of products from both firms and believe that they are completely ineffective and lack any scientific basis that would suggest otherwise. Our FAQ at
chips FAQ was a generic criticism of these types of products, but it was all taken very specifically from a BioPro promotional site.
From: Catarina Sent: 19 July 2006 13:03
There is, however, research on Q-link which has been published in peer reviewed journals, see -
Croft RJ, Chandler JS, Burgess AP, Barry RJ, Williams JD, Clarke AR. Acute Mobile Phone Operation Affects Neural Function in Humans. Clin. Neurophysiol., 113, (2002), 1623
Croft RJ, Chandler JS, Burgess AP, Barry RJ, Williams JD. Can the Q Link Ally(R), a Form of Sympathetic Resonance Technology (SRT trade mark), Attenuate Acute Mobile Phone-Related Changes to Neural Function? J. Altern Complement Med, 8, (2002), 427-435
According to Adrian Burgess (who is now responsible for the Imperial College neurocognitive tetra research), they were very surprised when they found evidence that the Q-link ally did counteract the effect of the mobile phone on the EEG. - Catarina
From: Alasdair Philips Sent: Wednesday, July 23, 2006
I was in dialogue with Q-link around the time the Croft paper was published and made direct contact with Rodney Croft in Australia. They had the Ally connected to a mains power supply and did not control for power-frequency ELECTRIC field EMFs - so the test was virtually worthless and would need to be repeated just using a battery run Ally. It would also need to be done with a dummy Ally - just flashing and with the rest of the gubbins inactivated, as a control to avoid a positive psychological response by people "thinking they are protected".
I also obtained (and still have) an Ally - although the LED flasher works (wow!), the main chip (a 28-pin AT28C64 memory chip) is completely incorrectly connected in such a way as it could never, even vaguely, work. I have detailed pictures of the circuit board and connections. It only contains standard electronic components and so no special "mineral and other elemental entities" to manifest the "Sympathetic Resonance Technology" wonders. I also measured the EMF output from the Ally - nothing significant at all - although I could pick up the fields from the current pulses flashing the LED.
The team concluded, after studying only 24 people: "This pilot study suggests that the addition of the QL to active MP-exposure does affect neural function in humans, altering both resting EEG patterns and the evoked neural response to auditory stimuli, and that there is a tendency for some MP-related changes to the EEG to be attenuated by the QL."
They would also have been likely to be attentuated by holding the wire from the power supply and doing away with the Ally altogether.
I did suggest to Clarus, their UK re-sellers and Rodney Croft that a larger study with proper controls be set up and carried out - but Clarus and their re-sellers and backers were not prepared to put up the money. Evidently this first study was done for very little money, which is why it is so small and ill-scienced.
About seven years ago I also wore a standard plastic encapsulated Q-link for 3-months and noticed no improvement in my electrosensitivity. I then tested it for EMF resonances in the ranges 1 Hz to 2.7 GHz and found none. I then dissected it under a microscope and tested the individual parts. The copper wire coil is not connected to anything - the ends are open circuit. The special "chip" in the centre is a standard 'zero-ohm' surface mount resistor link. There is a rather technical looking gold-plated printed circuit board - rather techno-pretty, if you like such things. I could find no trace of the special SRT material in my one. I think they may have an extra blob of something in recent years.
So, sorry, but I think both the Ally and the standard Q-link are pure Linus-blanket psychological props - nothing necessarily wrong with that - but I do get annoyed at the pseudo-scientific words they weave around the Q-link products. At least Q-Link (Clarus) offer a money-back guarantee - though many of their re-sellers fail to do this.
I think that, if sold at all, they should be sold as "comforters" and not scientific gadgets / wonder protectors. But then Clarus have and their re-sellers have made loads of money from Q-Link products - and if people really feel better wearing them, then, maybe, it is OK for them.
Good wishes for finding the truth behind things
# COMARE 11th Report [Back to Index]
Posted at: 21/07/2006 17:25:48 :: 0 Comments ::
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My first blog - and a rather heavily scientific one, I'm afraid.
At last, the long-delayed COMARE Report on clustering of childhood cancers has been published (see the Powerwatch News story for weblinks). They have concluded that spatial and temporal clustering is real - that is groups of similar cancers appearing in specific geographic areas for a number of years and, often, disappearing again with time. That is real progress. They have also assembled the largest ever database of childhood cancers. That is also real progress if they let it be used by other researchers.
However, the press releases from COMARE and the HPA have both been spun along the lines of infections, or unusual reactions to common infections, are the main causal trigger for the development of childhood cancers, especially leukaemia. This is despite the fact that they admit this would not be the cause of the first (initiating) pre-leukaemic genetic lesion but may be a promotional second (or subsequent) trigger. Also, although the concept and data fit this theory, there is virtually no actual evidence to show this actually happens. At present it is just a convenient theory and has far less scientific evidence to support it that the evidence against possible environmental carcinogens.
They state that: "Molecular evidence from comparison of Guthrie blood spots (taken from babies within a few days of birth) and subsequent leukaemic cells now shows conclusively that the first hit in childhood acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) often (possibly always) occurs in utero (Wiemels et al, 1999; Greaves and Wiemels, 2003). Postnatal activity of any other causative agent such as infection will thus be in the context of an already existing preleukaemic clone."
They also state: "It is not known whether the original (in utero) genetic lesion is caused by either genetic or environmental factors or is a purely random event associated with the natural process of immune system development. The abnormal genetic markers are not normally found in the parents. This suggests that environmental or lifestyle influences are most likely causal."
They dismiss EMFs being possibly associated with childhood leukaemia only "at very high levels of exposure, above 0.4 microtesla" - Eh? How on Earth can they describe 0.4 microtesla "very high" when we are allowed to be continuously exposed to 100 microtesla? Pure spin wording, certainly not scientific.
They also incorrectly say that there have been "no positive findings" that associate electric fields with leukaemia. They even cite the UKCCS (Skinner et al, 2002) which DID show positive associations (albeit not statistically significant, mainly due to the way they were analysed). They ignore the study I was a co-author of (Coghill, Steward, Philips, 1996) which found a positive association. They ignore the Miller and Theriault papers that found positive associations between electric fields and adult leukaemia.
They then dismiss petrochemical (including traffic fumes) causes with a single paragraph: "Recent ecological studies by Knox (2005a,b, 2006) suggest that there is an increased risk among children exposed in the prenatal or early postnatal period to certain environmental pollutants. Some of the results are very striking but the complexities of the analytical methods and the lack of detailed information to support the methodology make these results uninterpretable."
Now, George Knox is UK based and available to meet with them and answer any questions that they may have had. So there is no excuse for them to dismiss his work as "uninterpretable".
They are either incompetent (which I do not believe) or there is a hidden agenda. They seem to be in favour of trying to find a vaccination that may help - the pharmaceutical industry and researchers would like that - yet another jab for all babies, despite the initiating damage already being done before the child was born. They also don't point the finger at any environmental pollution problem like EMFs and petrochemical pollution, despite the fact that there are masses of scientific papers positively associating these with the initiation and incidence of cancer. They also conclude that as they have not found clusters of child cancer around nuclear installations, that environmental levels of man-made nuclear pollution are unlikely to be a cause of child cancers.
How convenient for industry and Government. Just in time for a new round of nuclear power stations to be built.