Interviews

Rod and Brooks Newton

Whoever said that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure (it was Ben Franklin) would be proud of what the folks at the Hidden Springs Wellness Center accomplished over the past few months. If you read the local paper or watched local television you know that they were appealing a cell tower installation proposed for the top of the nearby Ashland Cinemas. On October 14 they won the appeal, when the Ashland City Council denied AT&T’s application.

I spoke with Rod and Brooks Newton, owners of Hidden Springs, about what this decision means for them and the community.

Why was this so important for you?

Rod: The city council decision sets an important precedent for Ashland. Basically, the Council held AT&T accountable to a high standard that will now have to be met by future applicants. Of course it’s a relief for us because we stopped this tower from being built next to Hidden Springs, but the whole of Ashland will benefit for years to come with the requirement for legitimate processing of future applications.

Brooks: It also brought the community together in ways that will be helpful in the future when we may face even more urgent issues. The community support was incredible. I was moved and overwhelmed! Thank you, thank you, thank you, to everyone. It was very inspiring to see that we can come together to speak up and make a positive difference in our community.

It must have been very challenging to go through the whole process.

Brooks: The hardest part was reading the critical letters to the editor and editorials. We are fine with people holding different opinions, but when they missed the point or presented misinformation, it was really hard. I wished I could have sat down and talked with them.

Rod: One sad example was the Oct. 27th Medford Mail Tribune editorial. The author criticized the appeal and the council for hiding the concerns about health, even though he knew that we were prohibited by federal law from using health concerns as a reason to appeal. And he printed two blatantly false statements: “The science is clear.” And,  “Researchers have found no evidence that emissions from cell towers or antennas are harmful to human health.” in fact, the science is anything but clear, and numerous researchers have found and printed evidence that microwave emissions are harmful. Some studies show DNA damage, a break down of the brain’s defenses, reduced sperm count, memory loss, the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, and cancer. Other studies have found no evidence of harmful effects. But the majority of these studies were funded by the telecom industry.

Even an Ashland Daily Tidings quote from the American Cancer Society that, “there is ‘very little evidence’ that radiation from cell phone antennas can cause cancer and other health problems” is an opinion that it is not held by a growing number of scientists and physicians. Ironically, compare that statement with this one by the tobacco industry as recently as 1996: “Researchers are still unable to provide undisputed scientific proof that smoking causes lung cancer, lung disease and heart disease.”

What can be truthfully said is that there is not yet any scientific or medical consensus on whether and what health problems may be caused by microwave radiation. It is very telling, however, that the majority of insurance companies now won’t insure cell phone companies for product liability related to health claims. They are afraid that wireless radiation will turn out to be like asbestos. Remember, many insurance companies went bankrupt because of all the asbestos health claims. If the insurance companies won’t bet their money that microwave radiation is safe, why should we bet our health that it is? Wouldn’t a little caution be more prudent?

So, you’ve really been studying this.

Brooks: Yes, and many positives have come from that. We’ve always been careful about potential health risks. You know, better safe than sorry. For instance, we’ve never had a microwave oven and I’ve never had a cell phone.

Rod: When I first got a cell phone, I was concerned about the risks so I used it rarely, like when we traveled. But, in the past couple of years I went down that slippery slope – checking e-mails on my iphone and sitting right next to a wireless router when I was working on my computer. When the cell tower issue came up I spent many, many hours researching various studies and was amazed to see how many of them reported health risks. I learned about the extent of industry cover up and their counter information campaign. Before I looked into it, I thought the risk was just related to cancer – someday, maybe. But studies provide substantial evidence that microwave radiation also affects our brain function on a daily basis, possibly by increasing permeability of the blood brain barrier. Some of the studies demonstrate that rats don’t perform as well in mazes, and that people’s concentration and memory are adversely affected. Other studies show sleep disturbances, fatigue, headaches, etc.

I had been having a lot of those symptoms myself the past couple of years: memory loss, fatigue, and decreased concentration. I was even feeling dizzy when I woke up, which was very disturbing. But I just chalked it all up to aging. Then, amazingly, when I turned off my wireless router at home and work, and cut way down on my cell phone use, all the symptoms began to vanish.

Brooks: We also researched and bought instruments to measure microwave radiation. First, we took measurements on the top floor of the Ashland Springs Hotel where there are seven cell towers installed on the roof. We then measured our home and were horrified to discover readings just as high right next to our wireless router. We realized that this was like having our own personal cell tower, right in our house! Next, we began checking out other people’s homes and discovered that cordless phones emit even more radiation! More than being right next to a cell tower! And the base stations of the new ones emit this radiation 24 hours a day! We learned that Germany has banned this type of cordless phone, but most of the new ones being sold in our country are like this. They emit constant radiation.

So, if you are having difficulty sleeping, can’t seem to concentrate as well, are feeling fatigue or waking up tired, or having more headaches than before, it may be more than just aging. It just might be exposure to radiation from your cell phone, cordless phone or wireless router, wireless printer or wireless mouse.

My mouse?

Rod: That’s right, even your wireless mouse and Bluetooth devices put out significant radiation, according to our instruments.

Whoa! How can I find out more about this?

Brooks: We show the documentary film, Full Signal, at Hidden Springs periodically. It just came out and it’s full of eye-opening information.

Rod: Afterwards, we always have a lively discussion, sharing empowering steps people can take to protect themselves. The next showing is Monday, November 15th, 6:30 at Hidden Springs.

So, there are things people can do?

Brooks: Absolutely! And if you are sensitive like many of us are, you might start feeling better right away. Years from now, if the “proof” comes in, just like it eventually did about tobacco, we’ll be grateful we didn’t wait to act. In fact, maybe we should acknowledge this wake up call by saying, “Thank you AT&T!”

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