For more information on Dr Neil Cherry and his work, please visit his
You will probably have never heard of it.
Will the ill health of
its residents and animals become a international landmark in EMR research?
Possibly, if the information is allowed to get out. EMR (electro-magnetic
radiation) is a very sensitive topic, which makes big business (and
advertisers) extremely unhappy. The Ouruhia problems are a well-kept
Concern about this problem
Dr Neil Cherry, Regional Councillor, agricultural meteorologist and
electro-magnetic radiation researcher is extremely concerned about health
problems caused by radio towers in the Ouruhia area, northeast of
Christchurch. It is a dead flat, semi-rural area at the north end of
Marshlands Road. He is pushing the Regional Council for a health survey
on EMR effects in the area.
Source of concern
The source of concern is towers erected in 1980 and 1988. The 1980
137.2m (450 ft) tower emits AM radio waves, and since 1990, 12000 watts of
FM have also been transmitting from the tower. (A cell phone tower has a
base power of only 200 watts). A 1988 FM test tower was erected near by,
transmitting FM signals probably until September 1996 when it was removed.
FM towers are usually sited on a high point so that residential properly
are well below the FM beam. There is no high point at Ouruhia. It's all
as flat as a pancake. The beams of course, do not stop at Ouruhia. They
travel on across Christchurch, down the coast through Brighton, across
Redwood, up the Kaikoura coast, narrow at the start, and widening out the
further they are away. Small relay towers boost their power along the way.
Back to Ouruhia. Since the erection of the towers, and particularly since
the introduction of the increased FM transmissions, residents claim a
steady increase in serious health problems. These include wide-spread
M.E./CFS, heart attacks, bypasses and general heart problems; bone pain
and inexplicable deaths.
Dr Cherry's views
"The health problems at Ouruhia, including leukaemia, depression and
asthma, are consistent with international and national studies," Neil
Cherry says. "Of especial significance", he thinks, "is that nearly everyone
feels better when they are away from the area, and worse when at home."
Residents want the radio towers moved, and their health problems acted
on. They have taken their concerns to the highest level and received
little official help. In 1996 Mike Moore MP and Neil Cherry wrote to the
Minister of Health asking for a survey. That was ignored. In 1997 they
wrote again. First Bill English, then Neil Kirton replied that ill effects
are not proven and refused an inquiry or funding for a survey.
Limited national awareness
National awareness of the problem is limited, perhaps because of the
apparent refusal of Christchurch's premier daily, "The Press" to cover the
story. On the other hand, reporter Nick Tolerton at the giveaway "Star"
runs regular updates on it.
Amateur health survey
In a sensible world, the findings of the 1996 door-to-door survey in the
area should spur the authorities into action. Six residents carried it out
after their efforts to have a proper epidemiological survey were turned
down. As a result it was not professionally conducted. There were no
controls, no supervision was given. But their findings, even though they
may not be totally correct, should cause serious concern.
131 houses in the area were surveyed for health problems since 1980. The
responses showed an upsurge in ill health in 1990 and an even bigger one in
1995 when transmission for a second FM station was added. There were 44
reports of heart problems; 41 reports of M.E/CFS type symptoms, including
some severe enough to be mistaken for AIDS; 15 reports of severe bone
pains and arthritis; 15 of cancer; 11 of asthma, and three babies born with
birth defects. People with metal implants, including amalgams, felt
burning sensations in the surrounding tissues. Almost all the children are
now on asthma medication.
At least 14 deaths due to heart attacks were recorded. Two farm workers
dropped dead close to the towers; a third by being crushed underneath his
Aching bones and asthma
Well-known horse trainer, Penny Hargreaves, has a small farm off one of the
most affected roads. Her health was devastated when she lived there, as
was that of her daughter. She had all the classic M.E./CFS symptoms, with
a great deal of brain confusion, tinnitus, and mental tension. She was
tested thoroughly for colon cancer, arthritis, heart abnormalities, and
asthma. Nothing was found except for the asthma. This was real enough and
she went on medication to control it. The worst symptom was "bones that
ached so much it felt as though a hole was being burned in them". Each
cheek still bears two dull red spots adjacent to filled teeth.
For several months, she actually felt she was dying.
Moving from Ouruhia brings improvement
Penny moved her home to central Christchurch and transferred her horses to
the Rangiora area. As a result, her health and that of the animals is much
She reports on her animals:
"In 1993 we bought some cows. Several months later one of them became
very nervous and disoriented. One minute quiet, the next crashing through
fences all over the farm. One minute she was grazing, the next minute
running in panic. Sadly, she jumped out onto the road and was killed."
Problems for horses
Every one of her about 90 horses and those of other horse owners were
affected when they were in paddocks in the direct beams. Five horses lost
co-ordination, but returned to health when moved and treated with an
electrolytic solution. Two had mystifying deaths.
"They were very nervous and jumpy. They all seemed to have sore feet.
Horses who had travelled by trailer for years were losing balance while
travelling. We have several hot spots around our yard where the horses
become very volatile and hurt themselves and us.
"Our very valuable colt had serious health problems and walked as if his
feet hurt. He could not bear to be shod. We had many vets look at him to
try and solve his problems, but without any satisfactory answers. We
finally turned him out in a paddock which has a large hay barn and trees
between him and the tower. Within a month he had no problems at all.
Back in his old yard, the problem returned.
"The blacksmith gave evidence at our hearing on the effect of the radio
waves on our horses' feet. The aluminium conducts electricity and their
feet had changed shape, had huge cracks where the nails went and were very
"We had weekly problems with infections we have never had before, our vet
bills were horrendous. Since we moved the horses nine months ago, the
problems are less."
Other animals have been affected. Dogs (and horses) have dry coughs (and
so do people). An Alsatian dog collapsed and died for no apparent reason.
Every cloud has its silver lining. Rabbits have disappeared from those
areas in the direct beams which were unprotected by trees.
Just one street in the Ouruhia area
Listed here are survey results from 20 houses out of the 35 surveyed in
one road. There were recent, unexpected illnesses in almost every house.
(Note that these numbers do not correspond to the street numbers).
||heart problems, 1996
||heart attack, 1996
||immune breakdown, tested
for AIDS, arthritis, cancer, 1995.
Moved, much better.
||baby born with rare heart
defect, 1996. Fatal.
||severe headaches, off
work for three months, 1996
||heart problems, 1988/89
||chronic fatigue. Moved
||(1) fatal heart attack,
||(2) fatal cancer, 1991
||fatal fall off tractor,
||baby in hospital twice
with asthma, 1997
||fatal stroke, 1993
||M.E./CFS symptoms, 1993
||two teenage boys
developed asthma - now on medication.
||cancer, 1991. Now in
||heart problems, 1995
palpitations, chest pains (ECG negative),
aching bones, etc.
||(2) dry burning eyes,
chronic fatigue, loss of balance and
co-ordination. Now lives away from
||(1) heart (1989), bypass,
1997, pains in shoulders and back
||(2) bad pains in right
leg and side, 1997. Operation for bone
||(1) chronic fatigue,
insomnia, headaches, bad bone pain, 1997.
||(2) bad pains in right
leg and side, 1997. Operation for bone
||(1) heart problems, 1988;
heart attack, 1996
||(2) arthritis, memory
loss, immune collapse, 1996
breathlessness, asthma, 1995
||(3) Bad eczema on hands
For more information about the damage which EMFs can cause and ways in
which you can reduce the impact read Jacqueline Steincamp's
For more information you may also like to visit the
Plain Communications Electromagnetic Radiation Information Web site.
In addition, if you are looking for comprehensive technical research
on the potential effects of radiofrequency and microwave radiation,
then you may want to consider downloading
Dr Neil Cherry's Thesis.