An Electronic Silent Spring – December, 2017 Newsletter from Katie Singer

An Electronic Silent Spring – December, 2017 Newsletter from Katie Singer

An Electronic Silent Spring

December, 2017 Newsletter from Katie Singer

To safeguard the public, shouldn’t municipalities use existing regulations for deployments of “smart” and telecom infrastructure?

by Katie Singer  *

Given the current political climate, creating regulations now to safeguard the public’s life, health and property may be nearly impossible. Could we apply existing laws? Here are three possibilities.

1. Municipalities are required to hold liability insurance for damages and injuries caused by their property

In the event that a cellular antenna on a utility pole or traffic light or other public right-of-way (PROW) collapses (perhaps from high winds) or catches fire (as they have been shown to do), who is liable? State laws require that municipalities hold liability insurance for damages and injuries caused by or on their property–including PROWs. If the municipality perceives that it is not liable for such damages or injuries, then isn’t the municipality obliged to protect its citizens by requiring the responsible party (perhaps a telecom corporation) to hold liability insurance for damages and injuries caused by (say) the collapse or fire of their PROW-mounted antenna or gear?

Before “small” cell antennas are mounted on PROWs, shouldn’t municipalities require proof of liability insurance?

2. To safeguard the public’s life, health and property, state laws require that an independent, professional engineer (PE) evaluate and certify proposed electrical infrastructure projects with due diligence* before they are installed.

* A due diligent evaluation provides comprehensive, technical assessment of a proposed infrastructure’s safety and accuracy. By state statutes, a PE must certify the safety of a bridge or a water system’s before anyone drives a car over the bridge or drinks the water. Likewise, statutes require that a PE certify the safety of electrical infrastructure installations. In the case of “small” cell antennas on PROWs (5G mobile infrastructure designed to support the Internet of Things), a PE should assess, for one example, whether each PROW can bear the extra weight of the antenna(s) and its/their accompanying gear. (Some generators are as big as refrigerators.) Only a licensed PE can certify whether or not the PROW can bear such extra weight.

Before installing electrical infrastructure like “small” cellular antennas on PROWs, shouldn’t municipalities require telecom corporations to follow the state’s Professional Engineering and Surveying Act?

Before installing electrical infrastructure like “smart” meters, shouldn’t public regulatory commissions require utilities to follow their state’s Engineering and Surveying Act and require a PE to evaluate the project?

3. Municipalities are required to abide by OSHA/FCC programs

To protect workers from over-exposure to radiofrequency radiation (RFR), OSHA  and FCC require every municipality to:

  1. a) inform and warn workers about potential exposure;
  2. b) provide workers with sufficient protection in the event that their work puts them in close proximity to RFR; and
  3. c) secure liability insurance in the event that a worker is injured by exposure on the job.

Once “small” cell antennas are deployed on traffic lights and lamp posts and other PROWs, workers who work on rooftops and utility poles could routinely be exposed to RFR in excess of OSHA/FCC limits. Also, Philips Lighting Co. now manufactures lamp posts with “small” cellular antennas hidden within the poles. Aren’t municipalities required to protect workers about RFR emissions by following OSHA/FCC programs and limits? Aren’t municipalities required to hold liability insurance in the event that a worker is injured by exposure?

To warn workers about “small” cell antennas, could municipalities require telecom corporations to paint the antennas neon green or orange? While many people might find neon antennas unappealing, doesn’t everyone value worker safety over aesthetics?

In October, an attorney representing Santa Fe, New Mexicans wrote a letter outlining the concerns above to the City. The Santa Fe City Council had recently passed an ordinance that requires the City to design guidelines for telecoms to place antennas on PROWs. Citizens from other municipalities are encouraged to use this letter as a model–and to strengthen it!

Meanwhile, at the FCC:  

FCC Chair Ajit Pai has released a proposal to deregulate consolidated telecom industries, remove consumer protections, widen the digital divide and repeal all of the agency’s rules governing net neutrality. This could result in FCC’s blocking Netflix and Skype and “slowing” Google and/or specific sites. Tim Wu, the Columbia University law professor who coined the term “net neutrality,” asks if the Internet is an “increasingly owned, corporatized, private network where what you get is what…Comcast or AT&T thinks is good for you?”

Michael Calabrese, director of the Wireless Future Project at new America’s open Technology Institute, stated: “As broadband traffic moves more and more to mobile devices, the lack of a level playing field will do increasing damage to the Internet ecosystem. Removing non-discrimination protections for online content and services will result in toll gates that raise prices for consumers and stifle smaller, innovative and non-profit web creators.” .

FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel has opened an email account dedicated to comments about broadband “fails” 

Commissioner Rosenworcel aims “to take in the public stories and ideas. And I will share everything that comes in with the Chairman and with my colleagues, because I think it’s time to turn every one of those ‘broadband fails’ into something better–‘broadband success.’”

Remind the commissioner that state laws require municipalities to hold liability insurance in the event of damage or injury caused by antennas installed on public right-of-ways; that state laws require municipalities to hire independent PEs to assess infrastructure like “small” cells before installation and that municipalities are required to obey OSHA/FCC limits to protect workers from over-exposure to radiofrequency radiation.

Let Commissioner Rosenworcel know that you want wired Internet access, delivered via fiber optics. You do NOT want wireless delivery via “small” cells on PROWs, since wireless delivery is not safe, secure, reliable, enduring (cost-effective) nor energy efficient. Fiber optics is.

Let Commissioner Rosenworcel know that you do not want to compromise your family’s health or privacy with untested 24/7 exposure to millimeter wave frequencies emitted by “small” cells mounted on lamp posts, traffic lights and rooftops near our homes, schools and businesses.

Email Commissioner Rosenworcel
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Worthwhile stories re:

EMR exposure and health:

Read about new studies at and at

Screens, cognitive abilities and learning:

Brain Drain: The Mere Presence of One’s Own Smartphone Reduces Available Cognitive Capacity,” by Adrian F. Ward, K. Duke, A. Gneezy and M. W. Bos.

“The Pen Is Mightier Than the Keyboard: Advantages of Longhand Over Laptop Note Taking,” by Pam A. Mueller and Daniel M. Oppenheimer.

Telecom industry efforts to discredit the NTP’s $25 million study showing that 2G cell phone radiation cause brain tumors, malignant heart schwannomas and damage DNA):

“The Anatomy of a Rumor” by Microwave News‘ Louis Slesin.

The exodus of species from an Australian park with the deployment of EMR-emitting technologies:

Report for the United Nation’s Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO),” prepared by ethno-botanist Mark Broomhall.

“Green” consumerism and energy use:

In The Guardian, George Monbiot writes, “The ancillary promise is that, through green consumerism, we can reconcile perpetual growth with planetary survival. But…those who identify themselves as conscious consumers use more energy and carbon than those who do not…. The richer we are, the bigger our footprint, regardless of our good intentions.”

For an overview of technology’s hazards–and solutions, check out “Intimate, Invisible Matters” by Katie Singer in the 2018 Stella Natura Biodynamic Planting Calendar. The calendar is available through and through Rudolf Steiner Books (publisher of An Electronic Silent Spring),

Please contribute! to keep this newsletter going. Annually, we spend $4000 for web hosting, site and mailing list maintenance. Katie Singer is currently completing a paper about the Internet’s footprint. Donations are welcome through PayPal.  If you’d like a tax deduction for your contribution, please contact Katie Singer by replying to this newsletter.

Thanks to everyone who uses technology as safely as possible, reduces their energy use and EMR emissions.

To healthier ecosystems and safer communities,
Katie Singer