Website editor’s note: On July 3, 2019 a polite email came through the Contact Form on www.5G.org.nz
It was from Paul Brislen, who wrote the article “5G will fry your brain – I don’t think so” which inspired the response “Would you take advice about the health risks of cellphones from someone who works for a telecommunications company?”.
The email from Mr. Brislen read “Hi there. In this piece: https://www.5g.org.nz/2019/05/25/would-you-take-advice-about-the-health-risk-of-cellphones-from-someone-who-works-for-a-telecommunications-company/ you say I work for Vodafone. I don’t – I haven’t worked for Vodafone since 2011. I’d appreciate it if you could amend the story accordingly. ”
The reason that Paul Brislen was identified as working for Vodafone in the article that you can read below, is that the biographical information about Paul Brislen at the end of the article “5G will fry your brain – I don’t think so” on May 15, stated “Paul Brislen is a technology commentator, and former CEO of the Telecommunications Users Association (TUANZ) and head of corporate communications for Vodafone New Zealand.”
Viewing the link to Mr. Brislen’s article today (July 3, 2019) it appears that he has previously emailed the NZ Herald as the biographical text about him now reads as follows: “Paul Brislen is a technology commentator, and former CEO of the Telecommunications Users Association (TUANZ) and former head of corporate communications for Vodafone New Zealand.”*
Mr. Brislen now appears to run his own PR company. According to his website he provides “strategic media support for some of New Zealand’s leading tech and innovation companies.” Moreover, according to his site he assists companies with “their media engagement work, with a focus on strategic planning, social media, crisis communications and government relations.”
There is a photo of a man (presumably Mr. Brislen) holding a cellphone to his head on the landing page of his website.
Perhaps Mr. Brislen actually believes that cellphones are harmless. (If he is really suffering from this misconception, let’s hope he does not pay a horrible price for it such as developing a nasty brain tumour such as a glioma or another cellphone-linked malignancy.)
But given Mr. Brislen’s professional background, one has to wonder whether one or more of the “leading tech and innovation companies” to which Mr. Brislen provides “strategic media support” are telcos. *
The version of the article that you can now read below was edited slightly n July 3, 2019 to reflect the statement from Paul Brislen that he is no longer the head of corporate communications for Vodafone.
Would YOU take advice about the health risks of cell phones from someone who works for a telecommunications company?
On May the 15th, the day after the publication of an article by Ripu Bhatia in Stuff.co.nz quoted New Zealand scientist Dr. Susan Pockett about the potential health issues from 5G, Paul Brislen, (then identified in the biographical information at the end of the piece on May 15 as the “head of corporate communications” for Vodafone) wrote an opinion piece for Stuff called “’5G will fry your brain? I don’t think so‘
In this piece, Mr. Brislen made a number of statements which are either misleading (or at best debatable). His article also had an important omission and an interesting admission.
Spoiler alert: The fact that I am going share with you below is an inconvenient truth that the wireless industry would prefer that you did not know. If you have previously assumed that cell phones (and their attendant infrastructure) are safe because they comply with NZ standards, the facts below may come as rather unwelcome surprise.
Important fact: Radiofrequency radiation (RFR) in the microwave range (such as is produced by cell phones, cellular phone towers etc.) was classified as a possible carcinogen (Class 2B) by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in 2011.
Since 2011, new research has been published that supports a re-categorisation of this form of radiation (let’s just call it microwave radiation for short) from a possible carcinogen (Group 2B) to a probable carcinogen (Group 2A) or a proven carcinogen (Group 1).
Unfortunately, the increased cancer risk from this type of radiation does not appear to be limited only to people who decide to hold devices like cell phones (or cordless phones) against their heads.
Now, let’s critique a few of the claims that Mr. Brislen made in his opinion piece:
Claim 1: “ The only measurable impact is a slight warming in the presence of radio waves. It’s so slight that it’s almost non-existent but it’s there.”
Answer: There is a large body of evidence that levels of microwave radiation lower than the levels required to heat body tissues do have biological effects. A useful summary of much of the relevant research may be found at this website which was compiled by an international coalition of doctors and scientists: www.bioinitiative.org
For people who enjoy reading technical papers, here is the latest compilation of EMF medical research literature prepared by a recognised expert in the field:
Mr. Brislen tried to back up his contention that microwave radiation is harmless by including a link in his opinion piece to a study that concluded that cellular phone use was not increasing brain cancer rates.
However, if you read the link (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3098028/) he cited, you will see that the authors of this study state:
“There are several limitations to this study. Most importantly, if risk is only increased among long-term users and/or after a long induction period, it may be too soon for an effect to be apparent in general population incidence rates.” [emphasis added]
This is a very fair comment by the authors of the study because studies that have shown increased risk of some types of brain cancer (as well as other types of brain tumours) in users of cordless or cellular phones, demonstrate that longer term and/or heavier use of these devices is generally associated with increased risk. (See: Heavy Cell Phone Use Can Quadruple Your Risk of Deadly Brain Cancer, https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2015/01/06/cell-phone-use-brain-cancer-risk.aspx)
Now let’s consider what else Mr. Brislen has to say about 5G:
“There are [sic] a group of people who are concerned about 5G mobile services because they’re untested, because they’re new…”
Answer: There certainly are lots of people in New Zealand (and around the world) who are concerned about 5G.
And, to give Mr. Brislen some credit, one of the reasons that people are concerned about 5G is that the technology has, as he admits, NOT been tested for health effects.
The US government recently spent 10 years and many millions of dollars belatedly testing the effects of the microwave radiation frequencies used in 2G and 3G cellular phone systems on rats and found that rats exposed to this type of cellular phone radiation had increased rates of some cancers.
Of course, the results of these tests have come rather too late for all the people who developed cancer (especially those who died from this disease) as a result of being exposed to the microwave frequencies used in 2G and 3G.
Many of these people would have assumed that the wireless technology that they were using (or the infrastructure that had been installed in their neighbourhood) was safe.
The US government doesn’t seem to have learned anything from this fiasco and is going full steam ahead on deploying 5G without pre-market safety testing – and in the face of huge amounts of opposition by US citizens who don’t want to become guinea pigs in a massive 5G experiment.
However, you won’t learn the above facts in Mr. Brislen’s opinion piece.
According to Mr. Brislen, the reason that people are concerned about 5G is “because of fake news stories that apparently are planted (and I’m being serious here) by a Russian news agency”.
That’s right…if you don’t want your audience to pay much attention to one of the key facts in your opinion piece (the fact that 5G has not undergone pre-market safety testing to ensure it is not going to be a health hazard) just insult your readers’ intelligence  by blaming people’s legitimate concerns on “fake news stories” that were “planted…by a Russian news agency.”
The “Russian news agency” to which Mr. Brislen is referring is probably the English language news programme called “Russia Today” (or RT) which has interviewed people with expertise on the health effects of microwave radiation and has produced some hard-hitting pieces on 5G (such as this one) that have raised many people’s awareness of this issue.
These are the stories that the man who does Vodafone’s PR would like you to believe are “fake news”.
However RT is just one media outlet among many in the world that have run articles or news items that are critical of various aspects of the 5G agenda (or which have brought the potential health risks of wireless technologies to the attention of the public). Stories have been run by CBS, CNBC, Reuters, Newsweek, The UK Guardian, The UK Independent, to name but a few.
Mr Brislen knows that the telecommunications industry doesn’t need to win scientific arguments about safety, as the tobacco industry didn’t in the last century. It only needs to maintain uncertainty and keep the argument about safety going. Maintaining uncertainty, maintains profits.
Should YOU take advice about the health risks of cell phones from someone who works for a telecommunications company – or someone who used to work for a telecommunications company? (I’m sure you wouldn’t take advice about the health risks of smoking from someone who works for a tobacco company.)
For your own sake, and that of your family and friends, I hope you will take anything that Paul Brislen writes about the health risks of wireless technology with a large grain of salt.
Why expose yourself to potentially carcinogenic pulsed microwave radiation when you could use a safe phone with a cord and enjoy a faster and more secure hardwired internet connection with an inexpensive ethernet cable?
*End note added 4 July 2019: Paul Brislen’s Linked-In page shows that he is now working in PR and 2Degrees is listed as one of his “current clients”. 2Degrees is one of the companies that wants to build a 5G network in NZ. The other companies that have indicated that they want to build 5G networks are Vodafone and Spark.
Further Ed note: *Should any reader require proof of the wording of the biographical information about Mr. Brislen, scroll down to the bottom of the link below and you will see that it reads: “Paul Brislen is a technology commentator, and former CEO of the Telecommunications Users Association (TUANZ) and head of corporate communications for Vodafone New Zealand.” https://web.archive.org/web/20190515043727/https://www.stuff.co.nz/business/opinion-analysis/112732991/5g-will-fry-your-brain-i-dont-think-so
IMAGE CREDIT: Thank you to www.freedigitalphotos.net and Stuart Miles for the use of the image.
UPDATE: If you are on Facebook, please like and follow the new FB page https://www.facebook.com/5GFreeNewZealand/
 A bit later in his opinion piece, Mr. Brislen apparently decided that his admission that 5G is “untested” may have been a bit rash and he started to back pedal…
“But saying 5G is untested is a bit misleading, possibly because 5G as a name is also a bit misleading.”
5G, says Mr. Brislen “isn’t a brand new technology”. Instead it’s an “evolution of a technology” that (to paraphrase his words) has been in use for about three decades.
Beneath the “marketing hype, it’s the same stuff we’ve been using all along,” according to Vodafone’s former chief PR guy, who now has telco 2degrees as one of his clients.
Mr. Brislen may not know, or perhaps forgot to mention, that what he describes as the telecommunications “evolution” that the industry has chosen to call “5G” could involve wireless “small cells” as close as every 250 metres in urban areas meaning that if 5G is introduced into NZ, a lot more people would be living closer to cellular infrastructure than is the case at the moment.
And the fact that the wireless industry wants to use “beam forming” technology and “millimetre wave” radiation as part of the 5G network isn’t that comforting either…but neither of these inconvenient facts are mentioned in Paul Brislen’s opinion piece.
UPDATE: If you are on Facebook, please like and follow the new FB page https://www.facebook.com/5GFreeNewZealand/
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