Dec 13 2017

OPINION: Cell Tower Danger Questioned

Comment about Peter Harvey’s opinion on the danger of cell towers.

Peter Harvey, a scientist at the Space Science Lab at UC Berkeley, has publicly expressed his opinion on the potential negative health effect of long term exposure to the electromagnetic radiations emitted by cell towers. In the piece published in the Post, he refers to two websites that report on the preliminary results of a study made by the U.S. National Toxicology Program (NTP) on rats. Several scientists claim that the NTP results provide “strong evidence for the genotoxicity of cell phone radiation”.

I am personally not concerned at this point in time for three reasons:

  1. Why should cell radiations harm the male’s brain and not the female’s, as reported by the study?

  2. As far as I could find out, the study has not yet been reproduced by another lab. Reproducibility and replicability together are among the main principles of the scientific method. There is an on-going crisis in research with regard to reproducibility as reported by the Journal Nature on May 25, 2016 : 70% of researchers surveyed have tried and failed to reproduce another scientist’s experiments, and more than half have failed to reproduce their own experiments.

  3. I trust the American Cancer Society’s opinion on cell towers.

If you are still concerned and want to minimize risk, there is a solution to shield yourself and your family from radiation: the Faraday cage. A Faraday cage is an enclosure used to block electromagnetic fields; it is formed by a mesh of conductive materials. It is very effective if the holes in the mesh are significantly smaller than the wavelength of the radiation. Cell towers wavelengths range from 6 to 15 inches. Best is to use a mesh made out of copper, but other conductive metals such as used in chicken wire would do. A shield can be built around a bed, a room, or a house. Conductive paint and conductive soft fabric are commercially available. Use the “bars” on your cell phone to check effectiveness.

On my side, I am thrilled by the enormous benefits that the cellular technology has brought to the third world. I just hope that research will someday establish a measure of the risk associated with the technology in a way that enables comparison with all the other environmental health hazards in our daily life. Then I may change my mind.

An entry in the blog of Joel Moskowitz (PhD in Social Psychology and Director of the Center for Family and Community Health at UC Berkeley) provides a useful comparison of the potential lifetime risk of cell phone radiations relative to the lifetime risk of death by accidents (that is unintentional injuries, such by car, fall, gun fire, …).  The first one is estimated at between 1 in 200 and 1 in 250 after 20 years of cell phone use, as per the peer-reviewed study of glioma ( The second one is around 1 in 34 as documented by the Information Insurance Institute (
So one would be about 6 times more likely to die from an accident than from a brain cancer induced by 20 years of cell phone use. True, the study used in this comparison only focus on glioma. But may be Joel can provide a better estimate using his knowledge of all the potential ill-health effects of cell radiations that have been investigated.
For those interested, this is the textbook on shielding: “Architectural Electromagnetic Shielding Handbook: A Design and Specification” by Leland H. Hemming”. It is available at UC Berkeley. A single conductive flat surface between a nearby cell tower and a bedroom can offer some shielding. Outlets are a simple way to ground the surface.
There are also websites that offers products for the home: Their effectiveness is for sure enhanced by their placebo effect.
 by Bernard Pech,  Piedmont Resident
Editors Note:  Opinions expressed are those of the author.

One Response to “OPINION: Cell Tower Danger Questioned”

  1. Regarding #2, that study is a 2-year rat/mouse chronic exposure study at doses fairly equivalent to what humans receive from cell phones. It was conducted by the NIH National Toxicology Program, completed just last year with data analysis still underway. It will not likely be reproduced by others as of this date. Based on the conclusions of the study after peer review, the next step would be to investigate possible biological mechanisms that caused the observed rumors.

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