All About Me – well, almost!

PhD sampling site at the Sellafield Nuclear Reprocessing Plant Cumbria UK (1992)

 For much of my life I have been employed as an environmental scientist with specialisms in radiochemistry and atmospheric sciences. I gained my PhD in 1998 from Imperial College (London) and my thesis looked at particle size characteristics of radioactivity discharged from the Sellafield nuclear reprocessing plant, Cumbria. You can download my thesis from the British Library (ETHOS), here. I also gained my MSc. from Imperial College and my dissertation involved the use of a wind tunnel at Silwood Park to quantify capture characteristics of various types of cloths. The cloths were later used to sample the sea-to-air-to-land spray along a transect of the West Cumbrian coast. The title of my MSc. was called, ‘sea-to-land transfer of radionuclides: materials and methodologies of environmental air sampling. It was completed in 1991 and jointly carried out at the Imperial College Silwood Park Research facility and along inland transect close to the Sellafield nuclear reprocessing plant. This work was funded by British Nuclear Fuels Ltd (BNFL).
 

I obtained my BSc. (Hons) from Thames Polytechnic /University of Greenwich in 1990 and my final year research project looked at the speciation of lead within street dusts deposited close to schools. I then went on to do a master of Science degree with Imperial College (London) in which I assessed capture efficiencies of various muslin passive sampIers to sea-borne sprays enriched in radioactivity substances released from the Sellafield nuclear reprocessing plan, Cumbria UK. Between 1992 – 1995 I carried out my PhD which was funded by Westlakes Research Institute, Moor Row Cumbria and I was awarded my PhD degree from Imperial College in 1997. In 1996 I obtained my Cert. Ed. (FE) which is a teaching certificate for the post-16 sector. I taught chemistry and science for a couple of years whilst I was bumming around finalising my PhD thesis.

In the late 1990s I started work in the Civil Service and worked in a regulatory role in various departments such as radiological protection, food additive authorisation and regulation, pesticide and animal feed authorisation and legislation. Within this latter role I gained much experience in Brussels as part of a UK government department rapporteur team who met regularly to discuss issues related to animal safety, toxicology and efficacy.

I have been a licensed radio amateur since 1981 and enjoy predicitively modelling all my antennas, whether commercial or home-made. I also build much of my ancillary amateur radio electrical equipment, including meters and other signal detection equipment. In effect my hobby has prepared me well for almost anything related to the transmission and reception of radio signals from DC to daylight. Isn’t it funny and how synchronistic that Life prepares us well in advance for all the stuff we engage with later in life!

More importantly than anything else, I have a keen eye for social justice and understand some of the reasons why the world is the way it is. There are monied interests at work here. Organisations wish us to buy their latest gadgets and, of course, on our part we wish to know whether these products are safe to use. Industry has a duty of care in ensuring the products we buy do not cause adverse health effects. As part of the authorisation process by government, industry should provide robust data on many aspects of that product’s use, including toxicological and health-related data to. The onus is on the Regulators to ensure they are asking industry the right questions regarding consumer safety. Industry should be forthcoming on all the data they have on the use of their product and not to mislead. Industry can mislead regulators and consumers by NOT presenting data showing, for example adverse biological effects.

 There are many historical cases where products which have been introduced to the market were forcibly removed from the market many years later due to adverse environmental or biological effects on the population. Consumer products such as DDT and asbestos followed the example of the dodo, yet at the time of their production, were hailed as wonderful and wondrous. Crucially, these products were not withdrawn overnight either because industry would insist their products were safe to use even in the face of damning medical evidence. It took a long time to gather evidence of harm and even then, industry fought long and hard to keep their products on the market. Cigarettes, refined sugars and glyphosphate have been brought to the attention of the public as being biologically harmful. Arguably it is but a matter of time before these products and their uses will dwindle to the point of extinction.

We are in that same situation with regard to microwave-enabled consumer products and gadgets. The evidence from epidemiological, medical and scientific studies show a clear and positive association between exposure to microwave radiation and the induction of various cancers. That situation should require the Regulators to do their job and close those industries down until safer alternatives are offered. The primary focus of safety for regulators and telecoms industries are thermal or skin heating effects. Nothing else matters and nothing else is material. The major stumbling block here is ‘non-thermal’ biological effects did not form part of the initial authorisation and safety-standards process, which means industry and regulators can completely ignore these issues. Industry would love to shove all mention of non-thermal adverse biological effects under the carpet. They have managed to do just that so far, but they cannot ignore the weight, importance and scientific status of evidence busting out all over the world: exposure to microwave radiation 1000s of times lower than allowed induced cancers, particularly gliomas.

As a society, we should not wait for direct cause-effect data to be carried out, evaluated, observed and discussed ad nauseam. Science and evidence-based policy decisions will always be behind the curve and far too late for many people. In any event we cannot expect any study funded by the telecoms industry to be free from bias. It is clear that a precautionary principle should be enacted and in the interim period, before declaring the use of any microwave-enabled product as a Group 1 carcinogen, steps should be immediately taken to protect the health of everyone exposed to these dangers. If these steps are not taken by the Regulators, consumers should stop using these products in order to protect their health and that of their community until something safer is offered. It really is that simple: anyone buying the latest iphone capable of transmitting and receiving messages at 5 GHz should ask pertinent safety questions of the people selling those products.

Don’t believe the hype – Public Enemy