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Radiation Walks Dave Miller

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Presentation on theme: "Radiation Walks Dave Miller"— Presentation transcript:

1 Radiation Walks Dave Miller

2 What was the project about 1st September 07 -- two public exploratory 'Radiation Walks' around Crystal Palace, measuring mobile phone radiation levels. 'Day of Intimacy' event curated by Caroline Smith, within the CP annual ‘Signals’ art festival. I described this as a performance, entitled “Tense nervous headaches?” Website for the event:

3 What was the project about Each walk: approx 3 miles, 1.5 hours duration. As we walked: the story of each mast was told, along with technical data and possible medical effects of the radiation. Participants measured radiation levels, GPS positions and marked levels on a large map of the area. Together creating a collaborative artwork - poster sized map of local radiation -- intention to print and sell locally. The data collected combined into a layer for Google Maps -- zoom in and out of a map of the area and view local radiation levels.

4 What were the aims of the project? My stated aims: To enjoy sunny walks around the area, to walk and talk together, touring the local area as a group To engage with the community To measure and mark the mobile phone radiation levels near masts and schools, and collaboratively make a map To talk about the history of each mast To find out what types of radiation we are being exposed to, and how much To explore a parallel world in CP, a hidden world, to tell a different story of the area Do all this in an informed objective manner To create a local online facility showing local radiation levels, using Google maps.

5 What were the aims of the project? My ulterior motives: Raise awareness about local radiation Act as a catalyst for further investigations Explore a taboo subject in the area that most people would "rather not know" about (a study in1999 by Professor Gordon Stewart, found a history of local leucemia clusters along main beam of the TV transmitter) Subvert the Signals festival, and CP's move towards trendy gentrification aided unwittingly by local artists Scrape below the surface of the glittering art displays I like the idea of spoiling the party Upset property investors. My brother-in-law who owns a number of buy-to-lets begged me not to do the project.

6 Crystal Palace Crystal Palace -- highest point in south London -- probably for this reason has a high density of masts. Many masts with a staggering array of different types of dishes and aerials.

7 How we made measurements For this project I used an Electrosmog Detector: This detector exposes and converts the electromagnetic impulses it encounters into a collection of sounds (buzzing, screeching, pulsing) that is far more varied and illuminating than the click of a Geiger Counter. You can hear the amount, type, amplitude, and quality of the pulsed electronic pollution created by local transmitters/emitters operating between 50MHz and 3000 MHz, and enjoy the silence when the environment is clear.

8 How we made measurements This detector measures mobile phone and wireless radiation, but the sounds are very different. For the Radiation Walks I was only concerned with mobile phone radiation. When the Detector is making any noise at all, someone, somewhere will be feeling a health effect. The best science today tells us that 3% of the population will have some health effects from this kind of exposure.

9 How we made measurements How accurate is it? The louder the sound the more intense the radiation. I separated the intensities into 4 categories: none (hardly any), low, medium, high. This is obviously subjective, but the purpose of this project was to give an indication of the levels, not make exact scientific measurements. In fact the intensities we measure also depend on the amount of call-traffic at different times of the day.

10 How we made measurements Can we work out what sort of transmitter it is just from the sound emitted by the detector? Not easy to differentiate between GSM and 3G, although GSM from a mast is a very high-pitched screeching sound. All GSM's will be the same, whether Vodafone at 900MHz or Orange at 1800 MHz. Beyond this, if we identify a TETRA mast and stand next to it we’ll definitely hear it! Frequencies are: Tetra: 410 - 430 MHz GSM- Vodaphone and O2: 900MHz GSM - Orange & T-mobile: 1800MHz 3G: 2100-2400 MHz

11 The walks The walks followed two routes. The area covered centred around CP Triangle, a small triangle of streets at the centre of CP, but also two major masts included at the edges of CP, and detours were made to cover two local primary schools. We carried a large map of the route -- sticking coloured dots on the map to show the intensities at each point we measured: red (very high), blue (high), yellow (medium), green (low). We would also stick ‘Radiation Danger’ warning stickers on walls at the places where the radiation was very high. The idea was to get people thinking.

12 The walks - the route I planned out each route beforehand. The route was based around mobile masts shown in the government/ Ofcom website I made sure each walk included local schools.

13 The sites I researched the local Council planning websites and documented the history and details (dishes, transmitters) of each mast beforehand. There are GSM, 3G and Tetra transmitters in the area.

14 Results We did 2 walks on the day, around 20-25 people came. Generally the radiation levels were high all the time, some places extremely high, with only very rarely a drop off in level, particularly around a small park. We found Ofcom sitefinder website to be very out of date (hasn't been updated due to a legal dispute between Ofcom and the Telecom companies). We found some transmitters not listed by Ofcom or Council planning. On top of a hotel we found a GSM mast - and there seem to be no planning records for this.

15 Results



18 The local Police station appears to have a Tetra mast on it - looks and sounds like one - yet denied by the Council and the Police when I enquired. This makes 3 Tetra transmitters in the area which is very alarming when I read about the reported health effects on the Tetrawatch website ( TETRA is a mobile radio technology - being used for a new emergency services comms system, for police, fire, ambulance, installed throughout the UK by the Home Office. TETRA is a microwave system, like ordinary mobile phones, but the masts ‘talk’ to each other directly. Unlike mobile phone masts, they transmit constantly, 24 hours a day.

19 Results


21 Some conclusions I tried to deal with the subject in an informed and objective/ balanced manner -- but many were alarmed, particularly local residents who've lived here for years. People kept asking me "Is it as bad as we fear? Should we move?". "My children went to school here”. I stated before that I only wanted to inform and educate, and not cause alarm. However - not quite honest. I wanted to stir things up a bit. In fact - I think I held back a bit, scared of upsetting people too much. E.g. I haven't yet had the local radiation maps printed - could cause lot of upset.

22 Some conclusions Lots of money being made by Telco's and landlords, yet the health of local people not considered - all transmitters work within UK safety guidelines. UK guidelines based on thermal effects - but considered irrelevant - as the microwave radiation has biological effects. Sir William Stewart - Chairman of the UK's Health Protection Agency - says he "doesn't think the UK safety guidelines are an accurate refection of the science” - and he's worried. The UK govt has a vested interest in protecting the interests of the Telcos - it raised £22.5 billion in April 2000 selling the 3G licenses to the Telcos.

23 Some health studies on mobile radiation Very little research into the health effects of microwave exposure. Most research has been to do with mobile phones. Frequent phone use is being increasingly linked to brain tumours and other cancers. The sort of radiation you get from mobile phone masts or base stations has not been scientifically investigated, but nearby residents are increasingly reporting a variety of health effects, including serious illnesses.

24 Some health studies on mobile radiation How far away do you need to be from a mobile phone mast (base station) to be safe? Base stations are very variable, in height and equipment, as is local geography. ‘Hot spots’ of radiation near the mast, as well as the main beam pointing outwards. Microwaves are absorbed by and reflect off buildings, and metal objects. The new 3G systems (with photos and videos) and the TETRA system (used by the police) seem to be more biologically active than the old 2G networks, and more people experience symptoms of ill health,sleep disturbance, headaches, tiredness, etc.

25 Some health studies on mobile radiation "A European cancer researcher has warned that we may not know whether there are any health risks in GSM mobile comms before the technology is obsolete… mobile phones are subjecting human beings daily to radiation that they have never been exposed to before… Headaches, blackouts, short memory and sleep disruption continue to feature among the claims of worried GSM users.” “The radiation exposure from these antennas, while generally low level, is continuous. Some scientists believe that chronic, low-level radiation exposure may, over time, be as harmful as higher-level, acute radiation exposures.”

26 Some health studies on mobile radiation Electrical Hypersensitivity (ES) is an illness that is both highly controversial and little understood. The symptoms are varied between sufferers, but normally include: sleep disturbance, tiredness, depression, headaches, restlessness, irritability, concentration problems, forgetfulness, learning difficulties, frequent infections, limb and joint pains, numbness or tingling sensations, tinnitus, hearing loss, impaired balance, giddiness and eye problems.

27 Next steps Although my main interest was in the local effects, I'd like to see the whole country mapped, and local Radiation Walks organised all over the UK. I've been approached by some anti-mast groups to do Radiation Walks. Alexandra Palace is the next walk - probably Mar 2008. Please tell me if you’d like to do one. To put data onto Google maps - put together a pack so people can do their own Radiation Walks and add the data themselves onto Google maps. Enable schools to do their own Radiation Walks, possibly part of the curriculum.

28 Some thoughts and questions … This project shows the invisible, it reveals new stories. Every place has a hidden story of radiation/ health effects. People would rather not know - is this a strange reaction? Should Art hold back if it causes too much trouble? If Art damages businesses or worries local people should it hold back? Should Art show responsibility? Or should Art not care? Particularly when local artists fund the Signals festival themselves - and unwittingly gentrify the area, then can’t afford to live there anymore? Is this project Art? Or political/ environmental activism masquerading as Art?

29 About my work: Dave Miller tells stories through images and text-based works, mixing topical social and political real-life issues, news and events, with his own experiences, views and observations. His practice spans several art forms, from net art exploring collaboration, networks and generative forms, to live mapping events and printed booklets and prints. He often deals with contentious issues, researched in depth, told with integrity, in an accessible manner. Often he is motivated by a desire to campaign against injustice. A big thankyou This was the first time I’ve used live performance in my work, and I'd like to thank Caroline Smith who encouraged me to take this approach.

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