Boland brought Gandhi and Adlkofer, and some of the world’s leading scientists to Augusta, Maine, in March of 2010, where they provided concise summaries of the science. Not about to be out-maneuvered by a lone citizen-legislator, the CTIA was there in full force some three months earlier, having hired some of the state’s top Democrat and Republican lobbyists. One savvy professional registered consumer lobbyist of Maine was called in by some of the big firms and told that if he ever expected to get other work in this state, he should stay out of this issue. Mindy Brown testified, describing Coach Dan Brown’s struggles with brain cancer before his death. Ellie and Alan Marks soberly depicted the agonizing challenges of Alan’s brain tumor. Mindy and Dan Brown’s son Larry held up a copy of the six point type very small print that reads, “Warning, do not hold the phone on the body.”
When Dane Snowden, vicepresident for external and state affairs of the CTIA, was asked by Representative Peter Stuckey to explain why cell phone manuals included such warnings today, he replied he would have to get back to the committee. Snowden certainly has experience with consumer matters, having previously served as chief of the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau of the Federal Communications Commission. The FCC has never had a health expert on its staff. But, its recent postings on this issue have taken a precautionary turn, telling people that if they want to reduce exposure there are simple ways to do so by using headsets and speakerphones and not keeping the phone on the body.
An especially strange presentation was made by Dora Mills, M.D., head of the Centers for Disease Control of the State of Maine. Dr. Mills spent much of the hearing outside signaling that she had more important matters to do than sit through what international experts had to say on the issue. She did not listen to the testimonies of the brain tumor victims. For the record, she provided a highly selective reading of a pamphlet from the UK government, which she handed out. The fact that she did this suggests that Dr. Mills was betting that most of those on the committee would not take the time to read what she had given them but would rely on her to have provided the gist of it. Dr. Mills did not do this.
Instead, she read just one sentence: “The balance of current research evidence suggests that exposures to radio waves below levels set out in international guidelines do not cause health problems for the general population.”
But she did not read the next sentences:
However, there is some evidence that changes in brain activity can occur below these guidelines, but it isn’t clear why. There are significant gaps in our scientific knowledge. This has led a group of independent experts—commissioned by the Government . . . to recommend a “precautionary approach” to the use of mobile phones until more research findings become available.
If you use a mobile phone, you can choose to minimize your exposure to radio waves. These are ways to do so:
· keep your calls short
· consider relative SAR values when buying a new phone
Nor did she read this recommendation from the same pamphlet: “The widespread use of mobile phones by children (under the age of 16) should be discouraged for non-essential calls.”
Dr. Mill’s selective reading might make a nice skit if it were written by Woody Allen. It’s not. I hope that when the Maine legislature next considers this issue, the harried citizen-legislators will have had the time to review the pamphlet, the extensive submitted testimony (that can be found on the Web site) and even this book.. Several citizens from Maine spoke in support, including local physician Meryl Nass; Michael Belliveau, head of the state’s Environmental Health Strategy Center; Pamela Gerry, public health nurse and National Health Federation board member; Jody Spear, activist and consumer advocate; and Elisa Boxer Cook, who spoke movingly about concerns for her young children.
Excerpt from Disconnect, Chapter 10: Reading the Fine Print, 218-220