Here is a letter to Scarsdale10583 submitted by Deborah Kopald, a nationally recognized public health advocate, who will be discussing DAS (and how to stop it) as well as other wireless transmitters and devices on Wednesday, February 29th from 7:30-9:30 p.m. at Wainwright House in Rye.
In 1993, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) recommended that cell towers be placed away from schools and hospitals. A few years later, 40 scientists at the Harvard and BU Public Schools of Health called cell towers a public health emergency. Those following these developments would have been hard-pressed to wonder whether the CPUC recommendations shouldn’t also apply to residential zones and areas that people frequented and worked at. There was reason for concern—the literature on people living near radar, tv and radio towers showed negative health consequences to those in close proximity; cell towers represented the first time that the population at large would be exposed ubiquitously and continuously to microwave radiation.
In the intervening years, many forward-thinking municipalities structured ordinances that stipulated that cell towers be kept away from homes and schools and placed in industrial areas before residential zones in the name of protecting property values (since the Telecom Act of 1996 prevents regulation on the basis of radiation emissions and health effects). Literature conducted on health effects of cell towers has indeed borne out what was feared; those in proximity show elevated rates of negative health- from sleep problems, to cardiovascular dysfunction to cancer. The movie Full Signal chronicles the health problems of those living close to transmitters around the world.
Since the prescient CPUC recommendation, at least 15 countries or international bodies have issued advisories on wireless devices and/or transmitters. Israel bans new transmitters from residential areas and has put a moratorium on the 4G network. Some governments have warned citizens not to abandon their landlines, to hold cell phones away from heads and bodies when not in use, to restrict children’s use of cellphones and not to install Wi-Fi. Independent scientists assert that cellphones are linked to brain tumors, brain damage, and cognitive dysfunction and that being in close proximity to a wireless transmitter regularly is also a problem, especially for children whose brains, eyes, immune systems and other organs are more susceptible to the effects of microwave radiation than adults’.
Obviously holding a cell phone to your ear is usually the most intense exposure people receive at a given time—although sitting next to a very high powered Wi-Fi transmitter on public transportation can expose you to the same amount of radiation as talking on a cell phone. But a 2009 Swiss study showed that people in urban areas were getting more cumulative radiation from moving in and out of areas with transmitters than they were getting from daily use of their cell phone. In other words- radiation exposure from Wi-Fi exposure in school will exceed most children’s cell phone exposure over time. In any event, we do know that the levels of Wi-Fi in many schools are as high as if there were a cell tower on the premises and the levels working at Wi-Fi enabled laptops are even higher.
Meanwhile, technology continues to be rolled out at a pace that outstrips our ability and willingness to regulate it, the distinction between a device and a transmitter is increasingly collapsing, and the radiation in peoples’ homes, work and schools is increasing as the microwave radiation-emitting transmitters are placed closer to areas that people spend time in and higher powered devices are perched on people’s laps- or at least at their desks or on their bed-side tables.
Wi-Fi, smart meters (devices placed on the side of homes by utilities to measure electricity that obviate the need for meter-readers) and portable hotspots—even the use of wireless devices on trains (where the metal structure magnifies the effect of the radiation emitted by so many people using their wireless devices simultaneously in an enclosed space) – exceeds the amount of radiation people were exposed to by most of the cell towers that have been rolled out in the last 15-20 years. Since radiation exposure is more a factor of proximity than total power output, what happened between early attempts to site cell towers responsibly to the current explosion of in-building radiation systems and devices that produce radiation exposures well in excess of the amounts people are exposed to from cell towers (and were right to be concerned about)?
Even the cell towers are being placed closer in closer- on utility poles right outside peoples’ homes. This has occurred all over California (often in neighborhoods with multi-million dollar homes, in Long Island, and is starting to happen in Westchester, especially in communities with weak transmitter-siting ordinances on the books. The cell transmitters-on-poles phenomenon, known as DAS, or Distributed Antennae Systems, are exposing more people to more radiation in their own neighborhoods than they were ever exposed to by most cell towers due to transmitter proximity.
Expensive neighborhoods are no longer a refuge from an effective occupational exposure to microwave radiation. This is outrageous, and people need to stand up and fight DAS comprehensively before it affects their individual street or neighborhood. The Telecom Act of 1996 promotes ubiquitous phone coverage, which has generally been achieved. Nowhere in the text does it guarantee corporations the right to ubiquitous coverage of so-called “enhanced services” so iPhones and their ilk can receive high-speed data transmissions in every nook and cranny. There is a reason why Israel put a stop to 4G; that country fears the radiation emissions are problematic for public health.
High speed data should be transmitted by wire, and people and institutions should be encouraged to connect via wire indoors. What is the marginal benefit of being able to do heavy computing in your basement or yard, when you could do it at a wired computer in your home office with no exposure to microwave radiation? People need to ask themselves this question- if not for themselves, than for the sake of creating a safe environment for their children. Because the federal government will not take steps to protect public health in this country (while Europe has done extensive studies, our government cancelled studies they did with industry in the 90’s that were showing extremely negative health consequences of microwave radiation and then issued less-reliable animal studies in 1999 that didn’t get started until 2010 and won’t be completed before 2014), people need to work with municipal officials and state regulatory bodies to question the appropriateness of DAS and put a stop to it before it becomes ubiquitous. Any less means the loss of the right to control the levels of microwave radiation in one’s own home.
In other words, the failure to speak out means people are handing rights over to the wireless industry that they are not necessarily entitled to. If people do not rise to the occasion, and DAS is allowed to become ubiquitous, it will be harder to stop it and subsequent proliferations of other transmitters that will expose people to even higher levels of radiation.
Consider: the EPA Radiation Protection Division stated that no standards exist for long-term exposure to microwave radiation. The Federal Interagency Working Group on Radiofrequency Radiation states that the standards for pulsed radiofrequency are NOT protective of human health. But the agencies tasked with standards setting, health review and public advisories are paralyzed by bureaucratic inaction.
The rollout of DAS is an unprecedented power grab by utilities; since the pulsed microwave radiation coming out of transmitters is odorless, colorless and tasteless, most people are not aware there is a serious issue afoot. Many of those that do realize the magnitude of the issue make a feeble protest effort when it is too late and the contracts are practically signed. Meanwhile, the EU and the Council of Europe have called effectively for transmitter-free zones in and around schools, hospitals and old-age homes.
Perhaps Winston Churchill was wrong when he said “America eventually gets things right after exhausting all the other possibilities”, because while we should be addressing failed public policy that already exposes people to unacceptable and uncontrolled levels of radiation, we are in the process of increasing our exposures further. People should not wait around for a pronouncement by the U.S. government but take immediate action at the local level.
Editor’s note: A decal such as the one at right may someday indicate buildings free of wireless technology, while the decal on the top would indicate that a building contains wireless transmitters.