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|A towering health issue|
|USA||Created: 23 Sep 2011|
A recent attempt to erect a 120-foot cellphone transmitting tower in a Fayetteville residential neighborhood provoked general public condemnation and a denial by the city government to grant the sponsoring company a variance to erect such a structure. The neighborhood opposition to the cell tower mainly centered on health hazards that can be produced by the electromagnetic energy transmitted by the tower antennae.
Since the early 1990s, cellphones have proliferated. There are now more than 5 billion phones worldwide, along with hundreds of thousands of towers with a multiple array of stick-shaped and rectangular antennas transmitting pancake and fan-shaped electromagnetic radio frequency signals. In a four-mile radius of Fayetteville's Murray Hill subdivision are 82 of these installations, often hidden from sight.
Health and tests
For the past 20 years, there has been an ongoing controversy as to whether cell towers are hazardous to your health. In 1996, The Federal Communications Act decided that the energy output from cell towers was no danger to health, and this made it virtually impossible for communities to control the siting of these structures.
The decision that the non-ionizing radiation from cell tower electromagnetic fields was safe was based on testing largely sponsored by the telecommunications industry. The tests consisted of bombarding fluid-filled bags with radio frequency electromagnetic waves of various strengths and frequencies, and then noting how much energy it took to heat the fluid. Based on these findings, it was determined that 500- to 1,000-microvolts per square centimeter of energy should be the protective limits for cell-site radiation exposure. But the human body is not just a bag of fluid, and the amount of heat it can tolerate hardly determines the amount of non-ionizing radiation it can absorb.
Laboratory and epidemiological information collected worldwide is entirely at odds with the premise on which the Communications Act is based.
In 1977, biologists using animal models noted that very low levels of radio frequency radiation damaged brain coverings, caused blood vessels to leak and damaged that part of the brain responsible for memory storage. Further experiments with weak RF (radio frequency) radiation disrupted normal sleep in adults and interfered with the production of thyroid hormones.
Damage to our immune system and to our genetic integrity can be devastating to our well-being. Persistent exposure to non-ionizing radiation splits DNA strands and fractionates healthy cells into harmful micronuclei. These insults are similar to those caused by ionizing radiation from X-rays and atomic explosions. The damage can produce a variety of illnesses and symptoms that we will call the Microwave Syndrome. These include cancer (particularly leukemia and brain tumors), fluctuations of blood pressure not controlled by medication, heart-rhythm disorders, strokes in young people, ear damage, learning and concentration disabilities, behavioral problems, chronic exhaustion and headaches.
Recent epidemiological data further corroborate the harmful effects of RF/microwave radiation.
In the southern Germany city of Novila, 1,000 people who lived for 10 years within a quarter of a mile of a RF/microwave transmitter had three times more cases of cancer than a non-exposed age and gender-matched population. Cancer of the breast was the most common malignancy.
In Israel, 622 people living within a quarter of a mile of a RF/microwave transmitter were again matched with a non-exposed population. They were documented to have developed cancer 4.5 times more frequently than the control group. Cancers of the breast, ovaries, bone, kidney and Hodgkin's Disease were recorded.
Despite well-documented scientific evidence that implicates low-level nonionizing RF radiation in cancer and other health problems, well-respected media sources and the telecommunications industry continue to insist that cell towers and cell phones present no danger to health.
On May 31, the World Health Organization's International Agency For Research On Cancer, represented by 31 scientists from 14 countries, met in Lyon, France. It classified radio frequency electromagnetic fields as possibly carcinogenic for humans.
What you can do
Our society is in love with cellphones and a host of other wireless conveniences. There is certainly no indication that we will change our habits even if our health is in danger. But we can try to minimize our exposure to this electronic pollution with the following actions:
Try to live at least one-quarter mile from a cell tower or the transmitter;
Use an ear piece for your cell phone rather than hold a cell phone to your ear.
Although the present political climate is antagonistic to new government regulations, write to your state and national legislators and insist that they amend the Federal Communications Act to allow local governments to locate cell towers in locations at a distance from population centers.
In the next election, elect local, state, and national officials who understand the health dangers from wireless telecommunications and legislate to protect the public. Your life may depend on it.
Dr. Martin Chipman is a retired neurologist and professor of neurology at several medical schools. He has also served as an Army officer and a diplomat. He lives in Fayetteville and is a member of the Observer's Community Advisory Board.
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|Source: Fayetteville Observer, Dr. Martin Chipman, 23 Sep 2011|
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