Feb 25 2018

OPINION: Citizen Suggests Settling Cell Tower Lawsuit and Approving all Tower Applications

Piedmont and Crown Castle agreed to refer the cell antenna lawsuit to court mediation with a March 22 date in United States District Court, Northern District of California, in Oakland. On  October 16, 2017 the City Council denied eight of the 11 cell antenna sites requested by Crown Castle.  In response, Crown Castle sued the City November 15, 2017 and Piedmont is expected to respond no later than March 9, 2018.  

Resident assesses what to do regarding cell tower issues

To the Piedmont City Council:

I encourage you to settle the Crown Castle lawsuit and approve their application. Here is my point of view for whatever it is worth to you:

1- All new technologies carry risks that have to be weighed against the benefits to our community, our State, and our Nation. Here is a comparison of common risks in the US:

– Lifetime risk of death by injuries (such by car, fall, gun fire, …) for a person born in 2014:  1 in 20 as documented by the Information Insurance Institute.

– Teenagers’ risk of injuries (treated in an emergency room) suffered in motor vehicle crashes: 1 in 25 as per Center for Disease Control.

– Lifetime risk of developing cancer due to background radiation : 1 in 100 as per the National Center for Health Research. Background radiation refers to radiation that naturally occurs in our environment and does not come from any manufactured devices, such as emitted from the earth, sun, our galaxy, and other galaxies. The vast majority of non-invasive cancers are non-melanoma skin cancers caused by non-ionizing ultraviolet radiation.

– Lifetime risk of brain cancer after 20 years of cell phone use: 1 in 200. This is the only available evaluation and an entry in the blog of Joel Moskowitz, PhD, a member of our community, Director and Principal Investigator, Center for Family and Community Health, UC Berkeley.

2- The Sutro Tower emitted TV programs at an Effective Radiated Power (ERP) of 10 Million Watt for decades (versus 730 Watt ERP for a Crown Castle antenna). A 2001 review of epidemiology studies by the San Francisco department of public health concludes as follows: “Because of weaknesses (in the peered reviewed studies), current evidence does not suggest that living near broadcast towers would lead to an increased risk of cancer”.

3- It is easy to measure the strength cell provider signals using one of the many applications available. A good one is “Network Cell Info” for Android phones. Note that -100 dBm is essentially 0 Watt, and -36dBm is 0.000,000,3 Watt. One can also test the effectiveness of the Faraday effect to shield an area by placing a flat conductive wire mesh between a cell phone and its sending tower antenna.

4-The power emitted by a cell phone during a call ranges from 1 milliWatt when reception is good to 1 Watt (a thousand time more) when the reception is poor. (The power level picked by a cell phone for a call is negotiated between the phone and the equipment attached to the cell tower antenna when the call is established. It is then adjusted during the call to maintain good communication). Transmitted energy density diminishes with the square of distance. At 1 Watt, the brain is exposed to a power density of 35 milliWatt/cm^2 (phone against the ear at 1.5 cm from skull). The additional maximum exposure to the signal transmitted by one of the proposed Crown Castle antenna is 19 microWatt/cm^2 or 1800 times less. It is quite possible that a resident who lives in an area with very poor coverage and who spends a significant amount of time on her phone at her home everyday would be exposed to less cumulative radiated energy should an antenna be installed in front of her house. Fear your cell phone more than tower antenna!

5- With regard to scientific research, studies’ reproducibility and replicability 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 by the Journal Nature have tried and failed to reproduce another scientist’s experiments, and more than half have failed to reproduce their own experiments.

Bernard Pech
Piedmont Resident

February 24, 2018

Editors Note:  Opinions expressed are those of the author.

2 Responses to “OPINION: Citizen Suggests Settling Cell Tower Lawsuit and Approving all Tower Applications”

  1. Regarding point 4, the recent NTP study is about radiation from cell phones and that exposure is orders greater than cell towers. But it raises the question about capacity that CC put forward – will demand be so great with rising concerns about cell phone use? The city’s rejection is not based on health effects or capacity projections so that point is for a later discussion. I don’t think the NTP study falls into the category of studies addressed in the Nature survey. Rat bioassay studies are very straight forward with standard protocols and designed with good statistical power. The issue with these studies is with extrapolation of results to humans. The studies do identify tumor sites that warrant further investigation.

  2. To Garrett:

    Well everybody has its own phobia. Mine is about getting cancer from being hit by a muon.

    Muons are a by product of cosmic rays reaching the earth. A muon is kind of an heavy electron (200 times its mass). Muons reach the ground at an average flux of 1 muon per square centimeter per minute with an energy of 4 GeV (10 to the power 9 eV). Thanks God, a muon interacts very little with matter except by ionization (but that could be bad for my cells). And they decay with a half-lifetime of 2.2 microsecond. At the speed of light, that corresponds to a distance of 660 meters (that is not too bad). But due to relativity, the lifetime we perceive is much longer (that is bad).

    As per my post, the lifetime risk of getting cancer from all background radiations is 1 to 100. So how do I protect myself from muons? Well I could walk with a lead hat 5 cm thick and that would diminish the flux by 15%. Not enough protection to re-assure me. Since there is no way to protect oneself, there are very few studies of the health effect of muons. This could be sign of a conspiracy to hide the danger.

    So I have been spending a fortune with my therapist to keep my death ray phobia under control.

    Bernard Pech

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