News Feature


A place less wired

Cell Tower Archive
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Since the signing of the Telecommunications Act in 1996, most of us have not thought to question the proliferation of towers carrying signals for cell phones and wireless Internet. Research findings about the medical consequences of electromagnetic radiation have been slow in coming. But we now know enough to challenge the telecom industry’s aggressive siting of more antennas, particularly in heavily populated areas and where they threaten the healthy development of young children.

A recent story by Chris Ketcham, “Warning: Your Cell Phone May be Hazardous to Your Health” (search by title on line), is an invaluable primer for every concerned citizen who needs the facts to evaluate the increasing reliance on devices that emit low-frequency EMR as well as the danger of living close to transmission towers. Decisions about adding more to the existing towers in our communities (numbering nearly a quarter million in the U.S. to date) and about expanding high-speed Internet should not be made without consulting a book by Blake Levitt, quoted in the Ketcham article, Electromagnetic Frequencies…How To Protect Ourselves. Commenting on the $7.2 billion U.S. government Broadband stimulus to build out WiMax across the country, she warns: “This means an even denser layer of radiofrequency pollution on top of what has developed over the last two decades.”

In addition to providing a lucid explanation of the way low-frequency EMR has been found to be damaging—dysregulating the central nervous system and breaching the blood-brain barrier, causing breaks in DNA strands—Ketcham documents the corrupt history of telecom-industry payoffs to regulators (especially the Federal Communications Commission) and academics funded to discredit unfavorable findings and to influence the setting of exposure limits.

Another highly informative study comes from Camilla Rees (of, drawn from the expertise of many medical researchers, The Shadow Side of the Wireless Revolution. Among her recommendations are repealing Sec. 704 of the TCA, which takes away the rights of state and local governments to object to cell-phone towers on grounds of public-health or environmental concerns, and establishing cell-phone-free and wireless-free neighborhoods, public spaces (including government buildings), and schools.

We who are clustered around Blue Hill should be happy that we lie outside the Three-Ring Binder plan to provide high-speed Internet to sections of Maine. Once a fiberoptic network is in place, wireless can be installed from it to offices and homes. We could even advertise our peninsula as, comparatively speaking, a refuge, a place less wired, and turn it to our economic advantage. Certainly it would be the best way we could protect our children, whose nervous systems are not completely formed until about the age of 20.

Concerned citizens of Brooksville, faced with the imminent threat of a cell-phone tower in a congested area close to the town office and athletic field, are asking for a moratorium on cell towers, affording time to draft a protective ordinance. A special town meeting will be held soon to debate the issue, and I have cited a few of the essential independent sources, none funded by the telecom industry, to prepare us for the discussion. Although federal regulations do not now allow us formally to limit cell towers for reasons of personal health and safety, there are other grounds for objection. And we must ask, nonetheless: does the convenience of cell phones make them worth the risk of cancer and neurological impairment? Should our most vulnerable subpopulations be used, without informed consent, as subjects in a mass biological experiment?

Jody Spear

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