Health & Research
Why does everyone keep saying cell towers are safe? Just because there may be less research in the United States does equate to cell towers are safe. Quite the contrary: multiple empirical studies show statistically significant correlations between cell phone towers and documented negative effects on well-being.
So not surprisingly, in the US historically what little research exists on this issue has been labeled at best “contradictory” or even at worst “inconclusive.” Some have even attributed the lack of research to the FCC laws that preclude suit based on health issues.
However, recent papers on the subject have voiced concerns that RF and their health effects are understudied in the US, although it is one of fastest growing forms of environmental pollution, and call for immediate and extensive research on the issue. “Since most studies with RFR are short-term exposure studies, it is not valid to use their results to set guidelines for long-term exposures, such as in populations living or working near cell phone base (Levitt and Lai, 2010).
B. Blake Levitt and Henry Lai, US August 2010.“Biological effects from exposure to electromagnetic radiation emitted by cell tower base stations and other antenna arrays”
But even the most recent of the US studies specifically identifies threats to children: “Absorption of RFR depends on many factors including the transmission frequency and the power density, one’s distance from the radiating source, and one’s orientation toward the radiation of the system. Other factors include the size, shape, mineral and water content of an organism. Children absorb energy differently than adults because of differences in their anatomies and tissue composition. Children are not just ‘little adults’. For this reason, and because their bodies are still developing, children may be more susceptible to damage from cell phone radiation. For instance, radiation
from a cell phone penetrates deeper into the head of children (Gandhi et al. 1996; Wiart et al. 2008) and certain tissues of a child’s head, e.g., the bone marrow and the eye,
absorb significantly more energy than those in an adult head (Christ et al. 2010).”
Regarding proximity and length of exposure to RF: “The intensity of RFR decreases rapidly with the distance from the emitting source; therefore, exposure to RFR from transmission towers is often of low intensity depending on one’s proximity. But intensity is not the only factor. Living near a facility will involve long-duration exposures, sometimes for years, at many hours per day. People working at home or the infirm can experience low-level 24 h exposures. Nighttimes alone will create 8 h continuous exposures. The current standards for both ICNIRP, IEEE and the NCRP (adopted by the U.S. FCC) are for whole-body exposures averaged over a short duration (minutes) and are based on results from short-term exposure studies, not for long-term, low-level exposures such as those experienced by people living or working near transmitting facilities. For such populations, these can be involuntary exposures, unlike cell phones where user choice is involved.”
THE GLOBAL COMMUNITY
The lack of long-term effects has been repeatedly highlighted by the scientific and medical communities around the world. From a World Health Organization (WHO) 2010 Bulletin (reviewing existing short term exposure studies): “Regarding long-term effects, data are scarce and the evidence for the absence of long-term effects is limited. Moreover, very little information on effects in children and adolescents is available and the question of potential risk for these age groups remains unresolved. Where data are scarce, the absence of evidence of harm should not necessarily be interpreted as evidence that no harm exists. Further research should focus on long-term effects and should include children and adolescents. “ Further, in May 2011 the WHO/International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified radiofrequency electromagnetic fields as possibly carcinogenic to humans (Group 2B), based on an increased risk for glioma, a malignant type of brain cancer, associated with wireless phone use near the head.
Outside the US, several independent and peer-reviewed studies out of the EU, India and even New Zealand are all reaching the same conclusions. We have summarized and directly quoted below, and where available provided you with links to all these articles for you to read on your own.
A recently published 2010 research out of Bavaria, Germany sums it up best, where it was concluded that within a 400 meter range of RF towers there are statistically significant increased occurrences of health risks such as:
- sleep problems,
- symptoms of depression,
- cerebral symptoms,
- joint problems,
- skin problems,
- cardiovascular problems,
- disorders of the visual and auditory system, as well as
- hormone system and
- gastrointestinal problems.
According to the study, “the current exposure limit regulations basically do not provide sufficient protection against health risks.” Notably, these guidelines for Germany are similar to the guidelines for the US! This chart illustrates how insufficient our current federal exposure guidelines are:
“When a human body is exposed to the electromagnetic radiation, it absorbs radiation, because human body contains 70% of liquid. It is similar to that of cooking in the microwave oven. The human height is much greater than the wavelength of the cell tower transmitting frequencies, so there will be multiple resonances in the body, which creates localized heating inside the body. This results in boils, drying up the fluids around eyes, brain, joints, heart, abdomen, etc. The current international standards (based on ICNIRP recommendations) are purely based on the thermal effects of radiation where as various epidemiological and experimental studies have shown to have significant biological effects far below these standards. Non-thermal effects of Radio frequency radiation accumulate over time and the risks are more pronounced after 8 to 10 years of exposure. The effects are not observed in the initial years of exposure as the body has certain defense mechanisms and the pressure is on the stress proteins of the body, namely the heat shock proteins. This means that the body recognizes these electromagnetic radiations as a potential harm. An additional concern is that if the stress goes on too long, there is a reduced response, and the cells are less protected against the damage. This is why prolonged or chronic exposures may be quite harmful, even at very low intensities.” (emphasis added in bold)
“Radiation from cell phone towers has been associated with greater increase in brain tumor. This is due to the damage in the blood brain barrier and the cells in the brain which are concerned with learning, memory and movement.”
“Inhabitants living near mobile phone base stations are also at risk for developing neuropsychiatric problems as headache, memory loss, nausea, dizziness, tremors, muscle spasms, numbness, tingling, altered reflexes, muscle and joint paint, leg/foot”
“In a German study, it was found that proportion of newly developed cancer cases was three times higher among those who had lived during the past ten years at a distance of up to 400m from the cellular transmitter site, compared to those living further away. Also, patients fell ill on average 8 years earlier.”
Residents subjected to a T-Mobile tower had their blood levels tested before the tower was installed and six (6) months later. The study concluded:
- 84 % of participants, almost the whole group, reacted with a massive decrease in the serotonin level (average 46%) following increased exposure from the operation of the newly erected telecommunications mast, resulting in expected considerable sleep disturbance and immune deficiencies
- clear increase in depressive mood disturbances, lethargy and listlessness, appetite disturbances, inner agitation and reduced quality of life experienced by nearly all nearby residents
“Conclusion: Since the medically conducted tests carried out on residents living in the vicinity of the commissioned operational telecommunications mast proves a drastically increased health risk, immediate action by political and regulatory authorities , at the municipal, provincial- and federal level are demanded.”
Placement of tower does matter to the level of exposure:
The human body reacts more complexly than acknowledged in the thermal model and is sensitive to extreme periodic stimuli. The biological system takes the “energy” as well as the “information” which is brought by the continuous pulsed modulation pattern. Much experimental evidence of non-thermal influences of microwave radiation on living systems have been published in the scientific literature during the last 30 years – relating both to in vitro and in vivo studies – and were reviewed just recently by the STOA commission for the European Parliament (STOA 2001). From the use of microwave wireless technologies e.g. the following non-thermal
biological effects have been reported:
- Changes in the electrical activity in the human brain (VON KLITZING 1995)
- Increase in DNA single and double strand breaks from RF exposure to 2.45 GHz (LAI & SINGH 1996)
- Increased lymphoma rates (2 fold) in transgenic mice exposed twice a day exposed to 30 minutes of cell phone (GSM) signals over 18 month (REPACHOLI 1997)
- Increased permeability of the blood-brain barrier in rats (PERSSON 1997)
- Production of heat shock proteins and cancer risk (FRENCH 2001)
- Higher risk of uveal melanoma (STANG 2001)
Other reported effects include e.g. (STOA 2001):
- Observation of an increase in resting blood pressure during exposure,
- Increased permeability of the erythrocyte membrane,
- Effects on brain electrochemistry (calcium efflux),
- Increase of chromosome aberrations and micronuclei in human blood lymphocytes,
- Synergistic effects with cancer promoting drugs and certain psychoactive drugs,
- Depression of chicken immune systems,
- Increase in chick embryo mortality,
- Effects on brain dopamine/opiate electrochemistry,
- Increases in DNA single and double strand breaks in rat brain,
- Stressful effects in healthy and tumor bearing mice,
- Neurogenetic effects and micronuclei formation in peritoneal macrophage.
Summary of additional research from Europe
(courtesy of http://www.centerforsaferwireless.org/Living-Near-Cell-Towers.php); See also http://www.powerwatch.org.uk/
“sleep disorders (58%), headaches (41%), nervousness or distress (19%), fatigue (18%), and concentration difficulties were most common complaints. Complainants related their symptoms most frequently to exposure to mobile phone base stations…”
Santini, 2002 (France)
“Comparisons of complaints frequencies … in relation with distance from base station and sex, show significant (p<0.05) increase as compared to people living >300 m or not exposed to base station, till 300m for tiredness, 200m for headache, sleep disturbance, discomfort, etc. 100m for irritability, depression, loss of memory, dizziness, libido decrease, etc. Women significantly more often than men (p<0.05) complained of headache, nausea, loss of appetite, sleep disturbance, depression, discomfort and visual perturbations.”
Bortkiewicz, 2004 (Poland)
People more exposed to radiation from mobile phone antennas in La Nora (operating at 1800 MHz) had more symptoms than those who were less-exposed. Exposure was associated with discomfort, irritability, appetite loss, fatigue, headache, difficulties concentrating and sleep disturbance.
A study by the Dutch Technical Research Institute (TNO) found that volunteers exposed to a signal simulating exposure from a 3G (UTMS) antenna experienced adverse effects on well-being.
Oberfeld, 2004 (Spain)
A follow-up study in Spain found that the most-exposed people in Murcia had a higher incidence of fatigue, irritability, headaches, nausea, loss of appetite, sleeping disorders, depression, discomfort, difficulties concentrating, memory loss, visual disorders, dizziness and cardiovascular problems. The authors recommended a maximum exposure of 0.0001 μW/cm2.
Austrian researchers found that volunteers exposed to radiation typical of that experienced at 80 metres from a mobile phone tower experienced changes in the electrical activity of their brains and feelings of unwellness. Subjects reported buzzing in the head, palpitations of the heart, unwellness, light-headedness.
Dairy cows in close proximity to antennas (TV, Radio) exhibited reduction of milk yield and increasing occurences of health problems, behavioral abnormalities (e.g., head turning away from towers). The evaluation of possible factors which could explain the abnormalities in the livestock did not disclose any factors other than the measurable high-frequency electromagnetic fields. An experiment in which a cow with abnormal behaviour was brought to a stable in a different area resulted in normalisation of the cow within five days. The symptoms returned, however, when the cow was brought back to the stable in close proximity to the antenna in question.
Did we miss something, have an article to submit, or is a link broken? Please tell us: firstname.lastname@example.org