We’ve all experienced the irritation of a dropped call. Those of us that live in rural, mountainous areas are a little more annoyed than others, especially if we have iPhones. No matter where we live, increasing demand for more and better wireless service is leading to more and more cell phone towers cluttering the landscape.
There are two schools of thought on the health effects of cell phone towers and cell phones in general. On one side, doctors increasingly recommend not holding a cell phone near the skull or storing it in a pocket near reproductive organs. Many doctors urge parents not to let young children use cell phones at all.
If cell phones are that dangerous, then how dangerous are the towers that emit radiation to provide service?
The other side of the argument comes from the industry. “There is no evidence of adverse health effects from cell phone tower radiation,” is the common response. Of course, the industry depends on these towers going up in ever-greater numbers so that they can make ever-greater profits. Keep in mind that the tobacco companies said the same thing about cigarettes. To ram their point home, the wireless technology industry quotes exhaustive studies funded by… the wireless technology industry.
It’s kind of like Big Oil quoting their own studies that “prove” climate change isn’t man-made.
Why Cell Tower Radiation Is Dangerous
. Electromagnetic radiation has been shown to cause tumors and brain cancer in animals, even at low levels
. Cell phone towers emit this radiation for a distance of 2.5 miles in all directions
. The radiation is about as strong as that of an average microwave oven
Who Is at Risk
. Children, who have thinner skulls and a faster rate of cell growth than adults
. Pregnant women, who risk miscarriage and birth defects
. Anyone who lives within a mile of one of these towers
What Effects Have Been Reported
. Memory impairment
. Blood/brain barrier leakage
. Sleep disorders
. Increased incidence of brain tumors and brain cancer
Why the Industry and Government Studies Aren’t Reliable
. The studies only measure the thermal effects of electromagnetic radiation
. Government agencies are influenced by industry lobbying
. Funding for new studies of the physiological effects has been drastically cut
In the United States, where lobbyists rule the roost, EMR levels are among the highest in the world. Canada falls in the mid-range, and Europe has the strictest standards and lowest levels. It’s also interesting to note that brain cancer rates have risen 25 percent in the U.S. since the 1970s, and brain cancer is now the second leading cause of death in U.S. children. Is it coincidence?
Should We Throw Away Our Cell Phones?
No. Cell phone towers can be better located, away from schools and neighborhoods, and they can be made much, much safer with some investment by the industry. It will require regulation and it will be an uphill battle, because wireless companies will resist anything that takes a dime from their pockets.
But it’s worth it.
Samantha Leary was recently at the 2011 L.A. Auto Show where many new and innovative sports cars were on display.