Doctors warn of health problems from digital TV transmissions.

Three German medical practitioners have written an open letter to the President of the United States warning of the health risks of radiation from digital TV broadcasts as the country prepares to phase out analogue transmissions.

“The risk associated with terrestrial digital broadcast television transmitters is unacceptable,” wrote Drs Cornelia Waldmann-Selsam, Christine Aschermann and Markus Kern.

The doctors refer to health problems that developed within a 20 kilometer radius of two digital TV antennas after they were turned on in Hessian Rhoen, Germany.

They included “constant headaches, pressure in the head, drowsiness, sleep problems, inability to think clearly, forgetfulness, nervous tensions, irritability, tightness in the chest, rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, depressive mood, total apathy, loss of empathy, burning skin, inner burning, leg weakness, pain in the limbs, stabbing pain in various organs, weight increase”.

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In addition to these symptoms, the doctors reported suicide, the disappearance of birds from the area and changes in animal behaviour.

“In Germany we see strong evidence of a direct temporal association between the start-up of terrestrial digital broadcast television and the occurrence of severe health symptoms,” their letter continues.

The German doctors attribute the risks of digital TV to the wide band of frequencies that it covers. “A channel is 7.8 MHz wide.”

Australia is set to begin phasing out analogue TV transmissions in Victoria during 2010 and the transition to digital TV will be completed by the end of 2013.

According to Dr Lindsay Martin from the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA), digital TV operates at similar power to analogue TV.

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The difference between the two systems is in how the signal is distributed across the frequency bands. In analogue transmissions most of the power is transmitted on a single frequency with lower-power bands of energy distributed either side of it. However, in digital TV the energy is distributed fairly evenly over a wide band of frequencies.

ARPANSA’s views the health impacts of radiofrequency radiation from digital TV in the same way that it views them from other sources. “Broadcast towers produce weak radiofrequency (RF) electromagnetic energy (EME) exposure levels in the everyday environment. The weight of national and international scientific opinion is that there is no substantiated evidence that RF EME emissions associated with living near a broadcast tower poses a health risk.” 1

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In their letter of 12 February the German doctors requested that President Obama stop the introduction of digital TV scheduled for completion on 17 February. However, there was no indication that the US was listening.

On 13 February, the US Congress implemented a DTV Delay Act which extended the transition period from analogue to digital TV till 12 June. “Congress extended the transition date in order to permit analog service to continue until consumers have had additional time to prepare.” 2

References

1. http://arpansa.gov.au/pubs/eme/fact10.pdf

2. http://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/FCC-09-9A1.doc

from ‘EMR and Health’ Mar 2009, vol 5 no 1


About The Author – Lyn McLean is a consumer advocate, author and educator and has been monitoring and writing on the subject of electromagnetic radiation (EMR) for over 20 years. She is the director of EMR Australia.


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