December 8, 2022

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Radiation expert warns of impostors in the Ventilus file

The Ventilus project creates a public discussion about childhood leukemia caused by radiation and the precautionary principle that the Flemish government should apply. Permanent measurement system What does science say? The incidence of childhood leukemia in Belgium is about 93 children (all causes). Almost one case can be caused by exposure to magnetic fields of power lines. However, this is a statistical relationship and not a proven causal relationship. So it is not certain that radiation …

The Ventilus project creates a public discussion about childhood leukemia caused by radiation and the precautionary principle that the Flemish government should apply.

permanent measuring system

What does science say? The incidence of childhood leukemia in Belgium is about 93 children (all causes). Almost one case can be caused by exposure to magnetic fields of power lines. However, this is a statistical relationship and not a proven causal relationship. So it is not certain that radiation is the cause, but it cannot be ruled out either.

Radiation expert Els De Waegeneer from Ghent University suggests it would be a good idea to provide a permanent measurement system. This means that the actual values ​​can be known in terms of radiation and there can be transparency about it.

Now the entire discussion, taking place alongside the political battle for or against the overhead or underground power lines of the Ventilus Project, is suddenly revolving around the statistical association between power lines and childhood leukemia. Elijah himself fueled this discussion By involving the stakeholders themselves during the research and the Ventilus project on its website Documents To put. Elijah suggested several options to choose from, such as the classic type of high voltage towers and the newer type in which the radiation appears different and more vertical.

Research in public health and primary care

The government has already invested a lot in researching the effects of radiation. The Belgian BioElectroMagnetics Group or BBEMG (consisting of researchers from the University of Ghent, ULB and Université de Liège, as well as researchers from Sciensano) conducted several studies between 2017-2021. The oldest studies have been going on for some time and research is still ongoing. Researcher from Ghent Ho Radiation expert Els De Waegeneer. She is now the one who monitors international scientific studies on the health effects of BBEMG. De Waegeneer is a postdoctoral researcher in the Department of Public Health and Primary Care.

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The University of Ghent has been monitoring the epidemiological studies of radiation risks for a number of years. This investigation is still going on, and on the morning of this interview, D. Weigner was busy conducting the investigation. Every quarter we publish a report that includes scientific articles. Other research partners are doing more experimental research at the cell level or are doing meta-research, de Weigener said.

The effect of mixing with external factors

De Waigner notes that many of the reports are very frightening: “This follows the publishing pressure laws.” I’ll take a look at the situation. At very low frequencies of radiation, such as high voltage, the link between adult disease and living near a high voltage line has not been convincingly demonstrated. This is also the current situation in adults and children of mobile phone radio frequency radiation. For very low frequencies, there is contact with children.

“Studies have been replicated but the link still exists for children. However, we are not talking about causation or causation. Let me give an example: If more ice cream is sold at sea, we count more drowning. There is no causal relationship between ice Cream and drowning. Both simply reflect warmer weather. That’s what we call Bias or confusion“.

The prejudice Confusingor confusing bias, It is a systematic distortion of the extent to which exposure and its health consequences are estimated by confusing the effect of exposure taken into account with external risk factors. Often the correct conclusion is that the consequences have other causes, for example, in this case, radiation.

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culture of fear

What is lacking in causation is the same finding with laboratory animals: whether a compelling biological mechanism can explain how radiation causes the disturbance. The criteria for causation were not met. The statistical association in children with leukemia is undeniable, but it also looks at pesticides, parental exposure to asbestos, etc. Studies are often repeated internationally and always give the same results, but there may be something else behind them.

If we look at the prevention of leukemia, that’s one case for every two years in Belgium. This is of course one case too many.

Is fear justified?

“It is wrong to scare people. It is also not a good idea. Because this can lead to a lot of money being invested in relatively small risks and therefore less money being spent on proven risks. This is the difference in perception of risk. If a number of people start to get scared, they will They modify their behavior and this can lead to new vulnerable groups.There is already an entire detox industry.For example, they sell necklaces vs 5g, with a radioactive element with harmful radiation. This is dangerous. Another example is “detox weekends” in private clinics, where people are stripped of the radiation they have accumulated over the years. Of course, with a session every few months.

In addition to the culture of fear, De Waegeneer also fears all kinds of sorcery on the backs of frightened consumers. But she sees another problem: “The danger is that people attribute complaints to radiation and ignore the real causes. You should always take complaints seriously and refer to the regular medical department.

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electrical hypersensitivity

According to De Waegeneer, methodological problems have emerged in many studies: How do they measure radiation exposure? They do not measure cell phones with a dosimeter, but some studies estimate exposure based on whether or not they have a cell phone subscription. This is methodologically weak. Yet it was published with a panicked title. Another study of adolescents, who had problems concentrating due to radiation, examined adolescents who spent eight hours a day on their cell phones. Still a behavior that is a problem in and of itself?

Critics resort to the precautionary principle. Isn’t that an option?

The precaution principle is not an on or off switch. This is more than just a continuum. The government is already implementing this precautionary principle in accordance with international and European standards, and even goes further in this regard. According to De Waegeneer, a risk-free life is also not possible. But is the psychological drive of a government that sometimes removes all risks a development that goes too far? Do people joke with themselves?

De Waegeneer features subtle detailing. Earlier in the interview, she referred to the dangers of attributing complaints to radiation, but she also referred to another phenomenon: electrical sensitivity.

With electrical hypersensitivity, people attribute a host of complaints to radiation. To investigate this, scientists use provocation tests. Persons with complaints are exposed to or protected from radiation. The remarkable result is that if they can’t tell that there is no connection, but if the participants suspect or know there is radiation, that connection will suddenly appear. We call this the nocebo effect. It can lead to social isolation due to the behavior of people with electrical hypersensitivity.