OPINION: Fresh Concerns About Cell Tower Radiation
By Bonnie Masters
I have been vaguely aware of and vaguely concerned about the growing controversy regarding the safety of radio frequency (RF) microwave technology that supports the current wireless industry. I happened to discover a newly released TED talk on the subject, and the supporting research offered, during the same time period that Verizon is attempting to build a cell tower in the heart of a densely populated residential neighborhood — Lake Forest Estates. The talk, the research, and the efforts of a small but passionate group of Pagosa residents to oppose this tower in particular, and towers in residential neighborhoods more generally, have gotten me off the fence, and off the couch.
Here is the 16-minute TED Talk by researcher Jeromy Johnson that inspired me to write about this issue:
I have only recently learned that the FCC’s Telecommunications Act of 1996 prohibited state and local governments from regulating the placement of wireless facilities on environmental grounds. That legislation has deteriorated through subsequent case law so that today local governments and the public are forbidden to even speak about health effects of RF radiation in regard to where wireless infrastructure will be located. So for the past 20 years, wireless technology infrastructure using the microwave EMF spectrum has proliferated without regard to health effects, so long as the facilities meet FCC standards for emissions.
This federal preemption leaves us now in a peculiar situation: growing numbers of Americans are concerned about the risks from proliferating cell towers and smart meters, some are experiencing cognitive and physical health consequences — and yet our local governments are forbidden to consider such risks and concerns in their decisions regarding the location of cell towers in the areas they govern.
I have also learned that there are now over 7,000 research studies that dispute current government safety standards for weak EMFs. There are more than 1,000 studies regarding weak-EMF radiation and oxidative stress alone. And yet, the government-wireless industry complex continues to insist, in arrogance and willful blindness, that non-thermal biological effects from RF microwaves do not exist – or if they do exist, they are certainly harmless to humans and other living beings.
So far, most everyone I have talked to during this past month is in favor of faster, broader wireless service… and they are unaware of potential health effects of the “electro-smog” created as wireless infrastructure envelopes communities. They believe that if the federal government, the wireless industry, and the American Cancer Society say microwaves are safe, that’s good enough for them.
In my own current assessment, after a month of research, I see the microwave wireless communications industry as similar to the tobacco industry in the very early 1940s. Back then, there were doctors in white coats on television assuring the populace that smoking cigarettes was good for them. Now we are still in the gee-whiz phase of wireless technology and its gadgets – cell phones and mobile computers are so liberating, and every bit as addictive as smoking.
In 1944 the American Cancer Society first began to warn about the possible ill effects of smoking, although it admitted that “no definite evidence exists” linking smoking and lung cancer. It was 8 years later in 1952 when Reader’s Digest published “Cancer by the Carton”, detailing the dangers of smoking. That article sparked a firestorm of public awareness, and the following year cigarette sales declined for the first time in over two decades.
Unlike smoking, EMF pollution is not something we can practically opt out of, once electro-smog blankets whole communities.
This proposed Lake Forest tower is only the beginning of Verizon’s 4G service rollout in our area. Proliferating microwave wireless technology requires more and more towers to carry more and more bandwidth, for voice and data services. I suspect this wireless proliferation will continue throughout the land until there is finally public awareness and outcry sufficient to change government policy to adopt better and safer technologies. In the meantime, I think opposing the placement of cell towers in residential neighborhoods, even if they look like poor imitations of pine trees, is a worthwhile cause.
If the message shared by Jeromy Johnson in the above video piques your interest, check out this page of supporting research links,
I appreciate fast and dependable internet service as much as the next guy and would love to have access to a fiber optics system. I think, however, that the government-protected rollout of wireless broadband across the country will eventually prove to be the wrong road taken toward 21st Century communications.