Common Knowledge

It’s common knowledge that smoking, first-, second-, and third-hand, damages health. Sixty years ago, it was not common knowledge. Sixty years ago, it was not common knowledge that automobiles created air pollution that damages health, the environment, and threatens to alter our climate. Today it is common knowledge.

More than common knowledge, these and many other environmental exposures are the objects of citizen activism and government action. How does that happen? How does damage caused by environmental exposures become common knowledge?

In making damage to health from smoking common knowledge, the Surgeon General’s 1964 report “Smoking and Health” is often cited as a watershed event because the US Government took an official position. It made headlines. It caused my parents and my family doctor to stop smoking.

Last week, the Health Officer of Santa Cruz County California submitted a report to the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors reporting on the health risks of SmartMeters. The report finds that the scientific literature on health effects from wireless technologies supports the continued moratorium on SmartMeter installations on public health grounds.

The Santa Cruz report is not a watershed event in the way that the US Surgeon General’s 1964 report on smoking was. Nevertheless, it is continued progress in making the health damage caused by wireless technologies common knowledge. Of particular significance, the report notes two critical public health issues: wireless technologies are everywhere and exposure is involuntary.

In other words, the potential scope of health effects is extensive. A commonly cited statistic is that 30 percent of the population is electrosensitive. A smaller number, 3 percent, are so severely affected that those who recognize wireless technologies as the cause of their suffering become refugees seeking a place to live that isn’t saturated with electromagnetic radiation. More commonly, those who suffer don’t recognize the cause and simply become customers for pharmaceuticals that treat the symptoms.

But consider the numbers. You might think that 30 percent affected means that 70 percent are not affected and that 3 percent is a small proportion of the population. In fact, 3 percent of the US population is 10 million people. That’s greater than the population of New York City and almost the population of the state of Illinois.

That needs to be common knowledge. But the health effects of wireless exposures also need to be common knowledge.

The EMF researcher and activist Magda Havas proposes that we stop using the term “electrosensitivity” and instead use “Rapid Aging Syndrome.” There already exists a class of chronic illnesses that are referred to as accelerated aging largely caused by environmental exposures. What’s meant is that the body’s capacity to protect and heal itself is impaired. These impairments lead to symptoms commonly associated with conditions suffered in old age.

The following are symptoms common to both the elderly and to electrosensitives.

  • Fatigue
  • Difficult sleep
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Depression
  • Memory loss
  • Visual disruptions
  • Inflammation
  • Ringing in ears
  • Skin problems
  • Heart palpitations
  • Dizziness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Difficulty in moving
  • Gut problems
  • Poor blood sugar regulation

EMF exposures are not alone in their ability to impair the body in protecting and healing itself. For example, the immune system is affected powerfully by electromagnetic radiation: exposures promote inflammation, which dampens the immune response to everything from viruses to cancer. But chemical exposures that cause oxidative stress have a similar effect.

That needs to be common knowledge too: the health problems of environmental exposures are not one-to-one between an exposure and an illness, but a generalized assault on our body’s capacity to prevent and heal.

Don’t interpret what I’ve said as simply a call to stock up on antioxidants and Omega 3 oils. It’s a call to change your environment. Stop using technologies that poison you—and other people. You too might have to become a refugee, so that changing your environment means get out, get out, get out. You can also, and at the same time, make trouble for the people who create those poisonous environmental exposures.

Above all, you can work to make it common knowledge that wireless technologies and other environmental exposures damage health.