Public Comment

New: Dangers of Cell Towers Continued

By Harry Brill
Saturday April 24, 2010 - 10:10:00 AM

I am responding to Ray Barglow's disagreement with my Berkeley Planet commentary, which asserts that electromagnetic emissions from cell towers are dangerous to our health and longevity. Ray challenges the studies which claim that these emissions are a public hazard. He believes that they suffer major methodological flaws. Actually, no research on the issue is more flawed than a study that is currently being sponsored by the wireless industry. Incredibly, the industry study excludes certain types of tumors. It even eliminates from the sample those who died or were too sick to answer questions. Ray does note that those whose research he criticizes are not coming to the wrong conclusions because they harbo ulterior motives. But I don't think we could be as generous about those researchers who completely dismiss the issue. 

There have been a substantial and growing number of studies, far more than I mentioned in the Planet article, that document the intolerable assault on the health of those who live near cell towers. As a result, over 100 physicians and scientists at Harvard and Boston University Schools of Public Health have agreed that cell towers pose serious risks, whether cell phone users or not. Keep in mind that these scientists are not wild eyed radicals seeking to prey on the business community. 

The U.S. standard of radiation exposure from cell sites is among the least protective in the world. The exposure allowed in the U.S. is 580-1,000 microwatts per sq. centimeter, which is 100 to 1,000 times higher than in many countries. Only 10 microwatts are allowed in Russia and Italy, 6 microwatts in China, and only 4 microwatts in Switzerland. I doubt that the widespread fear in Europe and elsewhere that cell site emissions are very dangerous is due to neurotic anxiety. 

Obviously, we can have our cell phones without sacrificing our lives for the sake of convenience. But the higher financial costs to business to make these cell sites safer would reduce the rate of profit. Indeed, profit maximization has already given us polluted air and water, food sprayed with poisonous pesticides, and many products that present safety and health hazards. Now for a growing number of people electromagnetic emissions are inescapable. It should not be a surprise that life expectancy in 47 countries is higher than in the United States.  

Ray and I have a disagreement about the impact of cell towers, but we agree on a fundamental political principle. Ray is, as always, committed to democracy. I am pleased, but not surprised, that he believes that a community has a right to decide about whether cell sites should be allowed, and if so, under what conditions I couldn't ask for a more worthy opponent. 


Harry Brill