Cell Tower Health Risks
Cell Tower Health Risks
More cell tower radiation
Cell Towers are the base stations which control cell phone communication. The generic term "cell site" can also be used - to include all cell phone towers, antenna masts and other base station forms. Each cell site services one or more "cells".
Cell tower numbers have grown exponentially in recent years, as service providers raced to improve their coverage.
Increased cell phone traffic also contributes to cell tower density. When a cell becomes too busy, a frequent solution is to divide it into smaller cells, which then require more cell sites.
In 2009 there were over 200,000 cell sites in the USA alone, and 50,000 in U.K.
Cell tower radiation from chimneys?
Cell sites may take the form of a mast or tower, but may also be disguised, in some cases so they cannot be visually discerned at all.
You might notice the camouflaged "trees", but perhaps not the cell sites on top of buildings, looking like elongated loudspeaker boxes.
You'd almost certainly miss the cell sites installed inside chimneys and church steeples, even flagpoles.
Where a base station is installed on top of a building where people live or work, those occupants may be quite unaware that they are in very close proximity to equipment which produces substantial electromagnetic radiation.
Cell tower health dangers
Cellular phone industry spokespersons continue to assert that cell phone towers pose no health risk. Almost all scientists in this field would disagree, at the very least claiming that no such assurance can be given.
There is strong evidence that electromagnetic radiation from cell phone towers is damaging to human (and animal) health.
A study into the effects of a cell tower on a herd of dairy cattle was conducted by the Bavarian state government in Germany and published in 1998. The erection of the tower caused adverse health effects resulting in a measurable drop in milk yield. Relocating the cattle restored the milk yield. Moving them back to the original pasture recreated the problem. Dairy Cow Study
A human study (Kempten West) in 2007 measured blood levels of seratonin and melatonin (important hormones involved in brain messaging, mood, sleep regulation and immune system function) both before, and five months after, the activation of a new cell site.
Twenty-five participants lived within 300 metres of the site. Substantial unfavourable changes occurred with respect to both hormones, in almost all participants. Kemptem West Study
Over 100 scientists and physicians at Boston and Harvard Universities Schools of Public Health have called cell phone towers a radiation hazard.
Cell phone towers cancer risk
A study performed by doctors from the German city of Naila monitored 1000 residents who had lived in an area around two cell phone towers for 10 years. During the last 5 years of the study they found that those living within 400 meters of either tower had a newly-diagnosed cancer rate three times higher than those who lived further away. Breast cancer topped the list,
of the prostate, pancreas, bowel, skin melanoma, lung and blood cancer
were all increased. Naila Study
Another study by researchers at Tel Aviv university compared 622 residents who lived within 350 meters of a cell phone tower with 1222 control patients who lived further away. They found 8 cancer cases in the group affected by the cell tower, compared with only 2 cases amongst the controls. Further info
Very few studies have specifically concentrated on cancer risk from cell phone towers. This lack of studies is in itself a cause for concern, especially since anecdotal evidence is plentiful.
For example, in a case known as "Towers of Doom", two cell masts were installed (in 1994) on a five story apartment building in London. Residents complained of many health problems in the following years. Seven of them were diagnosed with cancer. The cancer rate of the top floor residents (closest to the tower) was 10 times the national average. Further info.
We agree that more research is needed, but it may be slow in coming. Those who might fund major studies are the very same organisations who would be disadvantaged if a definite link between cell towers and cancer were established.
In the meantime, it is reasonable to apply the precautionary principle.
If cell towers are causing cancer, we would expect that several years of exposure (with only minor effects on people's health) might be required, followed by an unexpectedly high occurrence of the disease amongst the exposed population.
The damage from radiation exposure accumulates over many years, but the breakdown in health happens only after all body defences and repair mechanisms have been exhausted.
Cell phone tower radiation limits
The current US standard for cell site radiation in the US is 580-1000 microwatts per square centimetre.
Many other countries have set levels hundreds of times lower.
The reason for the disparity is that no one really knows what level of cell tower radiation is safe.
Current limits have been influenced more by economic and political imperatives than by research into health and safety.
More important than the intensity of electromagnetic radiation emitted at the tower is the strength of the resulting EMF wherever people live and work. This depends on the intensity at the source - and one's distance from it.
Cell towers safe distance
Different cell sites emit different amounts of radiation.
Radiation levels from a single cell site vary, depending on usage. Even maintenance issues can affect how much radiation a cell site is currently producing.
Radiation around a single cell tower may not be uniform - there can be hot and cold spots.
Measurement with a suitable meter is the only way to know how much radiation you are receiving at a particular spot.
But it seems that 400 metres is a safe distance for most people, and smaller distances may also be safe in some cases.
Cell tower health effects
Individuals differ in their response to similar levels of EMF radiation.
For some people, short term effects from cell tower radiation exposure may include headaches, sleep disorders, poor memory, mental excitation, confusion, anxiety, depression, appetite disturbance and listlessness.
This list is not intended as a diagnostic aid, as each symptom here can have many causes.
But if you and your family do not experience any of these symptoms you are probably not being overwhelmed by cell tower radiation.
Cell tower safety - personal action plan
If you are still concerned, try to obtain the use of an RF (radio frequency) gauss meter designed for measuring electromagnetic radiation in the cell phone frequency (microwave) range.
Switch off all wireless devices including computer networks, modems and mobile phones before measuring RF radiation. What remains will probably be mainly cell tower radiation, although TV and radio station signals may also contribute.
How much cell tower radiation is too much for your long-term health? No one is exactly sure. But if you detect more than 100 mv/m (millivolts per metre) in places where you spend several hours a day, you might consider moving.
If you cannot obtain a meter, you must rely on estimating the distance to the nearest cell site. If that distance exceeds 400 metres you are probably not being harmed - although high risk groups may need to be more cautious. See our page Who is at Risk?
Also bear in mind that it is getting harder and harder to be sure where the nearest cell site is situated, especially in built-up areas.
Cell sites are often disguised. And many units are much smaller than the old familiar towers (though probably not less potent), and installed in unexpected locations.
When you next change your job or your house, find out how far away you are going to be from the nearest cell site, and let that influence your decision. Do the same when you decide where to send your child to school.
If you have reason to be concerned about your exposure to cell tower radiation - but there is nothing you can do about it yet - then concentrate on reducing EMFs from other sources. For suggestions see our page EMF Protection.
In the long term, we need to find ways of providing cell phone convenience without exposing people to the existing dangers of cell tower radiation.
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