By Keith Gilligan
Russell and Katherine Loader say they have been living in a hydro vault for eight years and are now paying the price, health wise. The couple has been living in a two-bedroom apartment in a Gateway Community Home development at the corner of Colborne Street and Kaiser Crescent in Oshawa, across from the Valleyview Gardens.
They believe a high electro-magnetic field, caused by wiring under the floor of their fourth-floor unit, has been affecting them since they moved in. They’ve been living with their conviction about the source of their illness for two years, Mr. Loader said.
“In less than a month (after moving in), I started to get these awful sores on my ankles and they’ve never healed. They were so deep, you could put your finger in them,” Mr. Loader said. His feet began to swell from size 10 to 14, while his toenails died and fell off. “I had to wear flip-flops most of the time.”
Mr. Loader has a form of arthritis and he believes the electro-magnetic field has caused it to accelerate.Many of his fingers are crooked, while his head has tilted toward his right shoulder, giving him a hunchback look.
Mr. Loader says an arthritis specialist told him he was surprised at the speed Mr. Loader’s affliction spread.”A high magnetic field can cause it (arthritis) to speed up. It causes it to switch on,” Mr. Loader said, likening it to “accelerated aging.
“My hands started to give me problems. My legs healed, but my feet never healed.” Linda McLean, property administrator for the building which Oshawa mayor John Henry says is owned by the Province, said the issue is before the courts and she can’t comment on Mr. Loader’s allegations.
“It’s before the courts and I’ve been told by our lawyers that we have no comment. I wish I could, but I can’t,” Ms. McLean said.
When the couple moved in, Mr. Loader was a part-time instructor in interior decorating at Ryerson University. Ms. Loader’s background is in the creative arts. “I had to stop working because I didn’t know why this would happen,” he said.
“It’s strange because Katherine didn’t get the sores, but her feet swelled up and her toenails died….She lost her ankles. She used to have really slim ankles,” Mr. Loader noted.
He received home care for a year to help deal with the sores and other ailments that were affecting him. “We didn’t know what was happening. We thought it was mould,” Mr. Loader said.
Ms. Loader began taking Tylenol and is now up to Tylenol 4. She says she wakes up five times a night because of pain. “I felt like death warmed over,” she said. Their cat, Angel, won’t go into either of the bedrooms.
It was while watching a documentary called Dancing Cows, about how cattle were affected by electrical currents running under barns, the Loaders began to suspect they might have a similar issue. The symptoms the cows were suffering, such as blistering sores on their legs, made the Loaders question the possibility of an electro-magnetic field in their unit.
The Loaders began investigating electro-magnetic fields, which led them to a company that investigates electro-magnetic fields in homes. The technician came to their apartment and with a meter, checked the bedrooms.
“When he came out, he was as white as a ghost. He said, ‘Oh my God. I’m surprised you don’t have cancer. Get out of that bedroom now,'” said Ms. Loader.
Mr. Loader said the technician checked the unit and found the living room had the lowest readings of four milligauss, a measure of the strength of a magnetic field. In the bedroom, the meter registered more than 100 milligauss, Mr. Loader said.
In a video demonstration, Mr. Loader, using a simple strip of aluminum foil and a light fixture, demonstrate for This Week how the electrical current in his home, which he fears is the source of his and his wife’s health problems, is capable of lighting a bulb.
Dr. Magda Havas, an associate professor and environmental toxicologist at Trent University, was commissioned by the Loaders to study the electro-magnetic field in the apartment.
When asked what a safe level would be, Dr. Havas said, “It’s hard to say, but less than one milligauss of constant continuous exposure.”
A reading of more than 100 milligauss increases the chances of breast cancer (in both women and men), brain tumours and leukemia, she added.
Being in the room for a few minutes isn’t a danger, Dr. Havas said, but noted, “you shouldn’t be exposed 24 hours a day and certainly not in the bedroom when our bodies are regenerating.”
People living in these fields will suffer from sleep difficulties, chronic fatigue, chronic pain, headaches, depression, anxiety and cognitive difficulties.
“If you take the individual out of the environment, they very often recover. Depending on how badly they were affected, recovery could take longer, but recovery is definitely possible,” Dr. Havas said.
The Loaders are planning to move out.”We’re throwing in the towel,” Ms. Loader said.