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14 Die Of Cancer In Seven Years Living Next To Phone Mast With Highest Radiation Levels In UK
June 19, 2008
Worried families living in the shadow of a mobile phone mast with the highest radiation levels in the country, believe it is responsible for 14 cancer deaths in just seven years.
The mast - fixed to a grey, depressing disused water tower - looms omniously above homes on the High Acres estate in leafy Kingswinford, West Midlands.
Campaigners argue that it is also behind an estimated 20 non-fatal cancer cases.
The mast was erected in council owned fields in 1995 and according to locals a spate of health related problems has been reported since 2001 when more antennae and dishes were added.
Wendy Baggott, 52, leads an action group protesting against the mast and lives just 200 metres away from it.
Her husband has contracted skin cancer twice and revealed that four people on her road alone have died from the disease.
Wendy, a retired NHS clinical auditor, who lives in Bartic Avenue, said: "It's a monstrosity and feels like a threatening presence looming all over the neighbourhood.
"Over the last seven years there have been 14 cancer deaths in the area. Fourof those happened in this road.
"We have counted 18 antennae and eight dishes, the wellbeing of the whole community is being affected.
"It is a massive concern to us that there is a children's play area so near to it.
"Parents and grandparents round here won't let their children go there because they are terrified they could get cancer."
My husband Clive has had skin cancer twice, he is not a sun-worshiper by any means and we're worried the mast could have had a hand in it."
An audit of the tower showed it to have the highest level of radiation in the whole of the UK, we are within the guidelines but it is significantly higher than anywhere else.
"Among those who have died from cancer since the mast was installed are; Michael Morris, who died aged 57 in 2003 from a brain tumour and Betty Genner, who passed away at the age of 68 from ovarian cancer in the same year.
Another local resident, Dorothy Day, 69, died from cancer in January 2005.
The last known cancer death happened just six months ago when a woman succumbed to a brain tumour.
Communications watchdog Ofcom say the area has the highest radiation levels of any site it had tested - but say figures are still within legal guidelines.
Its audit shows the highest value at the tower was approximately 1/5159 of the ICNIRP maximum guideline reference level for public exposure.
But for grieving relatives the research is seen as growing evidence the masts are having serious health effects on residents.
Widow Pamela Morris, 61, told how her husband had died when he was aged just 57 five years ago.
Fisherman Michael Morris had been a model of health, before he suddenly fell ill in 2002.
Mrs Morris said: "He was diagnosed with a brain tumour but there have been so many people in the neighbourhood that have died of these cancers.
"Michael used to take the dogs for walks up there by the tower and I wonder if it might have been that.
"He was having headaches for three years before he died, but before he was a picture of health.
"When these masts came I think it was when he started to go downhill.
"I want the masts to go, I think everyone around here does - I think it's from that people have become ill."
Criticism has been levelled at at the council for refusing to give details about what equipment is attached to the tower.
But it said there was no legal requirement to keep a register of masts or other structures.
A spokesman said checks had been carried out and had shown that all the equipment was working properly.
But the householders' concerns have even been
brought to the attention of their local
The Labour politician represents the Dudley South area and said he could understand their fears.
He has called for the water tower to be torn down and the area to be turned into a space for the community.
He said: "I have been in close touch with local residents over the issue of the water tower and phone masts and I understand their very real concerns.
"I am disappointed that Severn Trent Water did not consult local people when the tower was sold.
"There needs to be a resolution to this dispute. I have told Dudley Council that the water tower is an eyesore, which should be demolished.
"The land on which it stands, along with the surrounding public open space, should then be redeveloped for the benefit of the whole community."
Yasmin Skelt, from national pressure group Mast Sanity, said more needed to be done to find out whether phone masts were dangerous.
She said: "The Government keeps refusing to believe there is a problem, China and Russia realise this and keep their limits at one 60th of what we have got.
"We are being told nothing about the health effects, agencies that should be helping the British public are not helping. Why are we putting up with it?"
A spokesman for Ofcom said auditing of phone
masts was done on an on demand
He admitted the water tower site had topped the list for levels of radiation but insisted it was still safe.
He said: "It is the highest of all the ones we have tested, but it is well within the safety guidelines.
"Health issues around mobile phones are not necessarily an issue for Ofcom - they are an issue for the Health Protection Agency."
But health bosses at the agency said it had no evidence there were any worrying trends, but said it would contact local doctors to check if they had noticed anything wrong.
A spokesman said: "No concerns have been raised by general practitioners or other local health services in the area about any greater than expected numbers or unusual cases of any serious illnesses.
"Further contact is being made with local general practices to confirm that they do not have any specific concerns."