What inconvenient truth led a highly-regarded radiation expert to take the law into his own hands and demolish six mobile phone stations? As he faces sentencing this month, John Patterson talks to EMR and Health about the story behind the news.
John Patterson is a pleasant, considerate and well-mannered man with an easy smile and a wicked sense of humour. He is also one of Australia’s leading radiation experts—a man who has been at the cutting edge of communications technology for the past 33 years.
Yet on 14 July 2007 John Patterson broke into a truck yard, ‘borrowed’ a former British army tank and proceeded to systematically demolish six mobile phone base station in the Sydney suburb of Mt Druit, before his vehicle stalled at the site of the seventh base station and he surrendered to police.
Why did he do it?
According to John, mobile phones and their base stations pose a devastating risk to human life, to nature and to the planet that supports it.Background and experience
John’s unwelcome conclusion is one that he is, unfortunately, extremely well-qualified to make.
John is one of Australia’s leading radiation experts—a man who has been at the forefront of technology for more than three decades; a man with a passion for electronics.
A telecommunications engineer, John has worked with every communications technology there is. Employed by the Overseas Telecommunications Commission (OTC), Telecom and Telstra, he built, tested and commissioned communications systems and completed over 54 engineering courses in order to keep up to date with the newest technologies. John was one of Australia’s leading radiation measurers, a trouble-shooter and the man who found the solutions to the toughest problems.
As early as 1978 OTC trained John in ‘radiation awareness’ and advised him to keep a diary of his experiences with the cutting edge radiation-emitting technology with which he worked. At that stage, no one knew what the effects would be.
All too soon John was to find out.Health problems
As his career progressed, John became a very sick man. ‘The more I was exposed to, the sicker I became,’ he said. The crunch came after two mobile phone base stations were installed—one on either side of his workplace. By that stage, John was having regular heart attacks which continued for four years.
In his impeccably-maintained diaries, John detailed the health effects that he observed in himself and other workers, many of whom later died. ‘Telecom had a very high number of suicides,’ he recalls.
The symptoms he observed, in order of occurrence, included:
- short-term memory loss (including momentary lapses)
- long-term memory loss
- involuntary contraction of muscles and tendons
- chronic fatigue
- problems with balance—at first walking, then riding
- sore neck muscles
- jaw out of alignment
- vertebrae in shoulders and bottom four vertebrae out of alignment—caused by cramping of muscles
- misco-ordination between eye and muscles
- reduction in elasticity in body, especially throat, resulting in a ‘choking’ effect when swallowing
- thyroid problems
- heart problems (including heart attacks)
- stomach valve not opening properly, leading to heart burn and nausea
- changes to gait
- numbing of the skin
- black rings around the iris
- kidney problems
- liver problems—leading to skin problems, rashes and pimples that don’t heal. (John saw at least 1000 workers with similar skin problems.)
- inappropriate emotional responses.
The concern for John is that the symptoms he once saw only in exposed workers, he’s now seeing in members of the public—including very young children.Mobile phone radiation
John Patterson does not own a mobile phone—nor do many people who’ve spent time talking with him. However, he does own an impressive array of technical equipment with which he is able to measure the effects of this and similar technologies, which puts him in a strong position to offer advice.
Mobile phone technology uses a combination of frequencies that John was taught were too dangerous to be used together. It was designed to create new channels for interstate communications and undersea cables, says John.
‘It was never meant to be sprayed out in a circle.’
As early as 1978 John was warned by OTC that it could take four days to recover from one exposure to digital radio waves. Yet consider the number and frequency of exposures one commonly receives today!
Analogue phones affect only part of the body, he says, but digital phone signals affect the whole body.
According to John, mobile phone signals diminish the ability of pharmaceuticals to work and they carry disease.
For people wanting to know whether mobile phone radiation is affecting them, John suggests two quick tests:
‘When you are in a room with a mobile phone, walk outside and notice the change’. This is radio awareness which John was taught in the 1970s by OTC.
Try adding a list of numbers (or, if you are able, translating a document from one language to another). Notice what happens to your concentration when the mobile phone is switched on and signalling.Mobile phones and powerlines
On one occasion John measured radiation levels in a suburban preschool with a concrete parking area at the front. Across the car park an electrical cable conducted electricity from the powerlines on the street to the building.
As parents waited in their cars for their children, they made calls on their mobile phones. John found that the overhead power line picked up the mobile phone signals and transmitted them to a property using the same phase of the power line, four houses away.
Powerlines can act as conductors for mobile phone signals whenever phones are used beneath them. This happens when a person makes a call on the nature strip, perhaps waiting for a bus. And it occurs when drivers using mobile phones pass beneath a power line that is crossing the street.
These signals are then conducted into people’s homes.WiFi
WiFi computer connections use digital technology, with similar consequences for users. The effects will vary according to whether a person sits at critical distances from the computer such as one wave length or half a wavelength.Why digital radiation affects health
According to John, the digital radiation from mobile phones and base stations ‘will cause a complete collapse’.
'We need a field structure to support life. The earth has a biogeometry that we have evolved in. If that field structure didn’t exist, we wouldn’t have evolved to what we are today,’ John explains, referring to naturally-occurring waves such as Schumann waves.
Digital technology has a ‘terminating field geometry’. In other words, it interferes with the body’s ability to respond to the fields inherent in nature.
According to John, the key reason why digital signals interfere with the body is that they affect the natural spin (polarity) of the body’s cells. ‘The body is like a spinning top charged through nature’s fields and waves. Synchronicity to these fields creates good health. When we’re unsynchronised to the spinning top effect, sickness and disease appear.’
‘Continual exposure to the polarisation of mobile phones is diminishing our ability to recognise nature’ and this, John believes, is the heart of the problem of electromagnetic hypersensitivity.
Radiation from digital technology enters our body, John says, in just the same way that another ubiquitous, every-day form of radiation—light—enters our body. Through our eyes and through our skin.
‘The radiation that enters the eyes is responsible for synchronisation and timing of the brain to body. The component that enters the skin is responsible for timing and synchronisation from body organs to the brain,’ says John.Multiplying effect
Science has tended to look at the effects of radiation from just a single mobile phone at a time. But in reality, we are exposed to radiation from multiple mobile sources simultaneously. According to John, radiation from mobile phones and base stations interacts to create problems far worse than from a single phone or tower.
Consider for example what would happen if you placed a number of mobile phones, all operating at high power, inside an enclosed metal shell. You have created, John explains, a microwave oven. Yet this is exactly the situation that we find during peak hour in a crowded bus or train carriage.
Now imagine a corridor with rooms on either side opening on to it, such as you would commonly find in a school, a hospital or a shopping arcade. Now suppose that in each room one or more mobile phones is in use. The energy radiates out of the room and down the corridor. This creates an effect—known as cavity resonance—where the strength of the signals is amplified, creating hot spots in certain parts of the corridor. When a person reaches that point of the corridor he or she is affected by a relatively high level of radiation—even though no mobile phone is actually in use there.
Hot spots are also created by the intersection of waves—or black spots, as John calls them—from mobile phone base stations and other transmitters. Where they occur, John has seen distorted growth in trees, uncalled for emotional outbursts and, if they occur on a road, a high rate of traffic accidents. They pose a particular risk to motor bike riders as they affect balance.
In one home in which he measured, the wife routinely blacked out when she sat in a particular chair. Needless to say, it was a hotspot for radiated signals from nearby antennas.
What does this mean for you and me? It means that each of us is being passively irradiated—whether or not we like it—not just from mobile phone base stations and transmitters, but from other people’s mobile phones. It means that phone users are creating a confluence of radiated signals that are interacting with each other, affecting our bodies, our minds and our behaviour.
Phones and vibrating machinery ‘No mobile phone should be used in any vibrating steel area,’ John advises strongly. The electromagnetic radiation from the phone is absorbed by the vehicle and reradiated. This creates a potent combination of high and low frequency signals that is particularly harmful. Drivers of bobcats and other industrial machinery are advised to take note.Standards
John has identified a number of problems with Australia’s radiation protection standards.
‘The old Australian/New Zealand Standard C95.1 stated that there should be only one pulse every ten minutes’. However, this was removed in the subsequent standard (AS2772.1) and there is no current restriction on the number of pulses to which a person can be exposed. In one office John measured 33,400 pulses per second! This is over 20 million times the number of pulses considered ‘safe’ in the old standard!
Current international standards are based on heat, which John considers to be an inappropriate basis for addressing health effects. ‘We should measure the relationship of the electromagnetic field to the bioelectric field,’ he says.
Therefore, rather than measuring the amount of radiation absorbed in the body in watts per kilo, we should measure in decibels (dB), John says.Demolition of the towers
What was it that led to the demolition of the 6 mobile phone base stations in 2007?
‘In 1997 I took a legitimate measurement. I submitted an OH&S report that [the measurement] was a “dangerous occurrence”. This is the highest rated danger on the OH&S scale and meant that by law the installation should be shut down immediately.’
The result, however, was something quite different. John was sacked on the spot. Moreover, other staff members who found out about the measurement were also sacked without warning.
John then proceeded down the legislative channels that were available to him. He contacted in turn Standards Australia, the Australian Communications Authority, the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency, the Local government Association, Federal Parliament and finally the military. None of these agencies provided any support, though some authorities confirmed that John’s measurements and his conclusion were both correct. Finally a parliamentary committee concluded that John should deal with the problem in his local area.
So he did.
John appropriated a tank—and the rest is media history.
John’s attempt to obtain justice, to see the dangers of mobile phone technology addressed has cost him dearly. He has been gaoled, drugged and brutalised. He has lost his home and his savings. He is now working voluntarily for the firm that owns the tank he used for the demolition of the towers. He now faces final sentencing on March 5.How to reduce exposure
John has some well-considered advice for those wishing to reduce their exposure to mobile phone radiation.
- Minimise the use of mobile phones in buses and trains in peak hour.
- Avoid closed rooms with mobile phones.
- If you use a mobile phone in the car, wind all the windows down—(‘For a mobile phone signal to go through 3 mm of glass it has to double its power.’) Tinted glass is less permeable to mobile phone signals again, causing the phone to increase power.
- ‘Pregnant women definitely should not use mobile phones. The foetus absorbs the radiation that its mother absorbs.
- Don’t send SMS messages as the mobile phone transmits at maximum power for this.
- Don’t use mobile phones inside bobcats and vibrating industrial machines
- Industry should double-check the work of its employees because momentary memory lapses affect productivity and pose a liability risk.
from 'EMR and Health' March 2010, vol 6 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.