Preschool parents oppose cell tower atop church Other Issues, posted by Editor, Mountain View Voice Online, on Nov 9, 2010 at 2:34 pm
Mountain View's First Presbyterian Church has proposed putting a cell phone tower inside a new steeple, but the parents of a preschool on the property aren't happy about it. The zoning administrator is set to rule on the proposal on Wednesday at 4 p.m.
Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, November 9, 2010, 1:55 PM
Posted by Brentc, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on Nov 9, 2010 at 2:34 pm
I'm no longer surprised at how spectacularly ignorant my fellow citizens can be when it comes to judging cancer risk or evaluating any scientific research. Time and again studies show that there's no measurable risk of getting cancer from a cellphone tower.
Those kids risk of cancer is much higher from another well-known source of electromagnetic radiation: sunlight!
Posted by Dave, a resident of the Sylvan Park neighborhood, on Nov 9, 2010 at 3:03 pm
I agree. Many of those same parents will be letting their kids talk on cellphones as pre-teens and teenagers. If there are risks (which studies repeatedly show there aren't), that's much worse than a cell tower high above their heads. To increase demand, maybe the school will drop their prices so less fortunate people can afford to send their children there.
Posted by Captain Radio, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on Nov 9, 2010 at 3:17 pm
I smell the uninformed. This is one of those situations where someone THINKS they know something because of some headlines they read years ago about a possible link to cancer. Ugh, knee jerk reactionary panic.
There is no link between cell antennas and cancer...really...none proven whatsoever after lots and lots and lots and lots of studies.
Its the same fear as the misguided impression that brain cancer and cell phones are somehow linked(btw, they aren't)but I bet these NIMBYs chat all the time on their phones, even holding it up to their kids heads to chat w/ granny.
Posted by Max Hauser, a resident of the Old Mountain View neighborhood, on Nov 9, 2010 at 3:22 pm Max Hauser is a member (registered user) of Mountain View Online
If the concerned parents estimated the radio-frequency (RF) intensity that the children receive (an easy calculation, it only takes middle-school-level arithmetic once you know how) and found it significant compared to what's already there, then they may have a legitimate argument. Health effects of RF energy are an ongoing research subject with unanswered questions about effects of strong exposure.
Unfortunately today, RF "radiation" (a word beloved by demagogues, and identically applicable, yet seldom used, for visible light, TV broadcasts, BlueTooth, etc.) that "may be cancer-causing" attracts some of its loudest critics among people who cannot be troubled to first understand anything about the subject. Consequently it has become a textbook example (which I hope one day will be widely taught), one of several currently, of fashionable anxiety over a poorly understood risk. It came up locally before when Google first proposed its Mountain View WiFi network. These anxieties make for exciting media stories, but they can overshadow the real issues and even be countereffective.
The proliferating population of small wireless transmitters joins an existing background of RF energy that all of us already experience from older technologies like broadcasting and commercial vehicle business-band communication. All of them exhibit an R-squared reduction of signal amplitude with distance, a big safety factor often ignored. Also, it is not some situation of straw-breaking-the-Camel's-back (a favorite assumption of people defending irrational anxieties) because signals a body receives don't just add in amplitude, like budget deficits (stronger sources disproportionately prevail). I wonder how many people now raising alarm about PG&E "Smart-Meter" RF signals (for one trendy example) do so using portable wireless computers or cell phones, which ironically (from the R-squared effect) cause circa 100-10000 times as much received RF intensity in their bodies as "Smart Meters" do (if comparable in transmitter power). These children might well see less RF intensity if they accepted the steeple base stations but avoided people jabbering on cell phones, or if they avoided roving buses and taxis with their 2-way radios (similar in power to cellphone base transmitters but often much nearer). Even if the statistics didn't already demonstrate a far more immediate threat from being hit by one of those vehicles than from any common RF source I know of.
Posted by Joe Blow, a resident of the Blossom Valley neighborhood, on Nov 9, 2010 at 3:31 pm
Brentc, not entirely correct. The effects of cell phone towers on health are still not firmly established. As with many health studies, there are inconsistent and contradicting results, often dependent on study design. The majority of the research which has been done to date focused on thermal effects. More recently, non-thermal effects have been studied and have been shown to damage biological systems.
But if health is not a concern, property values are. Studies have consistently shown that property values decrease when a tower is erected, due to the potential health risks.
If your fellow citizens are ignorant, then so are many leading epidemiologists, biophysicists, the California Public Utilities Commission, the World health Organization, physicians and scientists from various Public Schools of Health, including Harvard, and the list goes on.
Posted by Alex M., a resident of the Willowgate neighborhood, on Nov 9, 2010 at 3:51 pm
@Joe Blow: you are correct, the jury is still out. Not only are the results dependent on study design, but they also depend on who sponsors the study. Back in 2006, a researcher reviewed experimental studies examining the health effects of cell phone use. Studies funded exclusively by industry were least likely to report a significant result.
Posted by jupiterk, a resident of the Gemello neighborhood, on Nov 9, 2010 at 3:55 pm
I am sure these residents won't have any issues if the cell tower were put in someone else , especially, in middle-class neighborhood or poor neighborhoods. Rich people living in that section don't want anything that will serve as common good. But they would jump in joy if some other neighborhood can be the base to serve/enhance their services.. Rich People are blood suckers.
Posted by Max Hauser, a resident of the Old Mountain View neighborhood, on Nov 9, 2010 at 4:46 pm Max Hauser is a member (registered user) of Mountain View Online
Unfortunately on this subject, people routinely argue the wrong issues. The question becomes phrased as do or don't base-station emissions at XXX distance interact with human bodies.
My main point is that the question should be wider: what TOTAL RF intensities reach these kids? It's not hard to do quick estimates assuming multiple emitters at various distances. If (as I've found when doing some of those estimates) the aggregated RF enrgy received over several hours is, say, ten thousand times stronger from existing sources at similar frequencies than what the base-station transmitter would add (which by the way is not unrealistic), then the question of biological effects remains, but the cellphone base station is utterly the wrong object of attention. (Though people, in practice, find ways to cling to their anxiety about it once they become convinced it's a threat -- demagogues take note.) Likewise for "Smart" PG&E meters. If the kids are subject to any injury from RF, then their risk remains unchanged, in my example, even without the specific emitter that the people chose to perceive and fixate on.
Posted by Luddite, a resident of the Sylvan Park neighborhood, on Nov 9, 2010 at 10:27 pm
Perhaps it's not a question of opposing technology, but rather a simple question of whether a tower in a residential neighborhood is appropriate.
As far as church revenues, that is their problem. Maybe they could open a strip club to compensate for the loss in revenue. Better yet, erect a tower on your property and donate the revenue to the church. Everyone is happy.
Posted by Wei, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on Nov 9, 2010 at 10:29 pm
As a parent, I'm concerned about the decision-making process. The 70 some children plus teachers will be the majority exposed to the radiation on a day-to-day basis. Shouldn't the parents be engaged as early as possible?
As for the unproven effect of radiation 20 feet away from a children's playground, it might be exciting to find out but I'll pass the opportunity to someone more willing. Would anyone outraged by the parents' ignorance or technophobia be willing to put his children to the test?
Posted by Geg Lindahl, a resident of the Rex Manor neighborhood, on Nov 9, 2010 at 10:34 pm
The process by which radiation causes cancer was explained by Albert Einstein in 1905 and won him a Nobel prize in 1920. Cellphone towers can't do it: the photons are millions of times too weak. It's a shame to see people wasting so much time on meaningless hysteria. What's next, OMG POWER LINES CAUSE CANCER!!
Posted by Geg Lindahl, a resident of the Rex Manor neighborhood, on Nov 9, 2010 at 11:26 pm
Luddite, you forget that the exact same hysteria existed for power lines causing cancer a few years ago. We have tons of information about what causes cancer: damage to DNA. Radiation only damages DNA if the photons are strong enough. Ditto for EMF. How much money and effort has to be wasted on poorly-designed studies showing inconclusive results before the madness stops? Only people like you can stop it.
Posted by CF Solmn, a resident of the Old Mountain View neighborhood, on Nov 9, 2010 at 11:45 pm
The town of Albany, Ca in the East Bay debated placing a cell tower on the high school a couple of years ago. What the company is offering in rent to the church is an insult as the tower will generate in excess of $100,000 (one hundred thousand dollars) income per month and requires a generator on the ground that will increase ambient noise at night in the neighborhood. The contract will allow the company to sublease space on the tower for additional capacity and new technologies without having to disclose any information to the neighbors. It is a bad business deal with long term consequences for the church. The company can subcontract to any kind of worker who will be unsupervised in close proximity to the preschool children. Does the church have enough liability to protect itself from lawsuits? The church should renegotiate for $10,000 per month and the city should collect taxes from every entity placing equipment on the tower. The companies have neither the church or the community's interests in mind. This is business profiting with no regard for the community. Look deeply at the contract and demand in depth details. The company reps assume citizens will focus on the wrong issues. Health concerns are not legaly admissable to deny cell tower citing locations. Bad business negotiations and ground generator noise and unsupervised workers who would need access to the church roof at all hours for whatever concerns the company would not have to disclose should be big concerns for the neighborhood. Albany turned down the celltower on the high school and passed a strong townwide wireless ordinance to provide clear guidelines for where towers could be placed and what had to be disclosed in the plans for citing.
Posted by Luddite, a resident of the Sylvan Park neighborhood, on Nov 10, 2010 at 9:16 am
Public concern does not necessarily equate to hysteria. We're not talking about cancer only, although it has not been ruled out, despite what some posters claim.
There are other RF associated health concerns - suppressed immune fucntion, impaired nervous system, Alzheimers, sleep disorders, memory impairment, seizures, effects on the blood brain barrier to name a few. Some experts go so far as to claim that there are no safe levels of EMR radiation. EPA analysts have recommnded that EMR be classified as a probable human carcinogen.
Can any of you arm-chair experts explain why leading biophysicists and other scientists, public health officials, physicians and Nobel prize nominees are wrong and the cell phone industry and the FCC are right?
How about why progressive countries have standards for exposure from cell towers 100-1000 times lower than those in this country?
Posted by Max Hauser, a resident of the Old Mountain View neighborhood, on Nov 10, 2010 at 12:06 pm Max Hauser is a member (registered user) of Mountain View Online
BrentC, thanks for the helpful link.
When a parent like Wei, above, doesn't investigate but instead _presupposes_ that the cellphone tower will "expose people to radiation" in ways they aren't already experiencing even at the same signal frequencies (which is fundamentally wrong and misleading), that's emotional reasoning. In other words, hysteria.
Hysteria is a common reaction to poorly understood technical threats -- even when some of the ignorance is willful, as here. Crucial parts of the picture (nature of overall electromagnetic exposures) actually ARE well understood and not controversial, and as I already mentioned, they change the fundamental concern regardless of EM biological effects. But people can't be bothered to learn that. You can point it out, but they're not interested. (Hysterics of this kind never seem to perceive themselves as such, any more than people who've bought emotionally into some manmade ideology -- Marxism for instance -- ever perceive themselves as dogmatic.)
Posted by Luddite, a resident of the Sylvan Park neighborhood, on Nov 10, 2010 at 12:20 pm
I've seen that link Brentc, thanks. There are a few important points to take away from that summary.
"At this time, there is very little evidence to support this idea (that cell phone towers cause cancer - my edit)."
"In theory, there are some important points that would argue against cellular phone towers being able to cause cancer."
"For these reasons, most scientists agree that cell phone antennas or towers are unlikely to cause cancer."
They use phrases and terms such as "little evidence", "In theory", "Unlikely". Those are deliberate in that the research to date is inconclusive. Theories are hypothetical until proven or disproven.
Some of the experts I alluded to are:
Neil Cherry, PhD (biophysicist); Elizabeth Jacobsen, Deputy Director, US Department of Health; Gerard Hyland, PhD (physicist – two-time nominee, Nobel Prize in Medicine); Ronald Herberman, director of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute; Henry Lai, PhD (bioengineer, University of Washington); Lennart Hardell,MD, PhD (oncologist, cancer epidemiologist); Leif Salford, MD, PhD (neurosurgeon).
Posted by Ron, a resident of the Waverly Park neighborhood, on Nov 10, 2010 at 2:19 pm
No Luddite. They use terms like "unlikely" and "in theory" NOT because it is inconclusive. It is because they, as scientists never rule anything out. But there is LOTs of evidence that such effects will not occur, and NO evidence that it in fact will. Of course, they will NEVER prove to you that it will not happen, because it is not possible to prove something does not exist. If you truly believe that Bigfoot is behind the church, and I walk with you behind the church to look, you will just say he must have left before we got there. If I set up a video camera to watch for him, you will just say he knows how to avoid them. If we look and find no evidence of him, you will just say we did not look everywhere well enough, and the "jury is still out". You will NEVER believe cell phone towers are safe. Some will NEVER believe vaccinations are safe. Some will NEVER believe a man went to the moon. Millions believe 9/11 was masterminded by George Bush (and then claim he was stupid otherwise). YOU need to prove it is bad. Others do not need to prove it is not (for the hundredth time). Until then you will be just another silly person fearing anything you don't understand.
Posted by Old Ben, a resident of the Shoreline West neighborhood, on Nov 10, 2010 at 3:08 pm
It's not like cannabis. We can't have cannabis dispensaries until cannabis is proven to be completely safe. Cell phone technology, on the other hand, is here to stay until someone can prove it is harmful. It's interesting logic.
Posted by Mike A., a resident of the Sylvan Park neighborhood, on Nov 10, 2010 at 3:10 pm
And to add another clarification, they are not "erecting a cellphone tower" that will "decrease property values." They are putting the hardware in the steeple. You can't see it.
As for ambient radiation, good grief. All those radio stations you hear in the car, the HD video you can watch with rabbit ears, the sunlight you see during the day -- what do you think that is? Radiation. And I'll bet those kids running around without adequate sunblock and re-application of protection during the day are at far more risk of skin cancer from sunlight than cancer from communication-related electromagnetic radiation -- where nothing has been proven despite DECADES of studies attempting to verify and validate the terrified claims of fearful people.
Posted by Luddite, a resident of the Sylvan Park neighborhood, on Nov 10, 2010 at 4:51 pm
Actually, with health policy, the application needs to be proven safe, not unsafe. Pharma companies are a good example. A drug candidate needs to be proven safe as part of Phase I and II clinical trials. Same with medical devices.
Good link, but a waste of time, just as my time here has been.
No one has come forward to provide and explanation of why all the experts I listed (I hope that was enough to start) are wrong and they are right. They just dismiss them.
These people who throw out claims based on their opinions and use thinly veiled insults as arguments against expert testimony are too intelligent for uneducated, fearful half-wits who are influenced by mass hysteria and emotions...such as myself apparently.
Posted by Elly, a resident of the Waverly Park neighborhood, on Nov 10, 2010 at 8:21 pm
Perhaps those who are concerned about the radiation could post reliable studies linking cell towers to increased cancer rates - or even scientifically valid studies suggesting causation. If not, I'll have to assume there's a certain NIMBY hysteria out there. From what I understand, the signals from towers wouldn't penetrate 3 ft. tall children much anyway. I don't doubt that the fear of "radiation" causes fear of the towers and leads to somewhat lower property values, but...
I just hope those objecting never use cell phones or WiFi networks near their small children. Or microwave ovens, for that matter. Otherwise, I think they should reflect on their fears and their own desires as consumers.
Posted by Linda, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on Nov 10, 2010 at 8:54 pm
I couldn't believe that the parents haven't been informed before they approved this! That is too much wrong.
If there is any effects or not, that isn't the case. The case is the parents with young kids 2-5 years old should be informed. Not afterwards.
Also another question is: Why the landlord of the commerical building and safeway don't approve this, but a church with 70 very samll kids don't bother any potential risks and approves this?
Except the so called pastor, those people who really own the church and come to worship every sunday, have they informed? What the leaders in the Little Acron School do? Do they inform the parents before it has been approved?
I will say, let us - the parents all swith to some other places, who cares about our little kids.
Posted by Linda, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on Nov 10, 2010 at 8:58 pm
Are we lived in a civilized community? Except those so-called health ratios, don't know how much sciense in there. A lot of times sciense says this today and then tomrrow sciense the prior conclusion is wrong.
Posted by Hardin, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on Nov 11, 2010 at 1:34 am
Based on the review of the hyperlinks provided by both sides of this issue, I found little to substantiate the fears concerning EMR.
Moreover, if there is a concern about this type of exposure, then living in this valley may become an impossible task. As the article states, the growth of these cell towers has been exponential, and will continue to increase with the roll out of 4G technology. Even if this tower is prevented, there will be others. It would be interesting to see what type of exposure a person in Silicon Valley currently has, based on the existing towers now in place.
However, all this doesn't mean people can't or shouldn't minimize their risks (even percieved ones), if they want to. I'm just not sure how you would go about doing this, when it comes to cell phone towers in Silicon Valley.
Its a catch 22, people want green energy but not the added costs it will take to wean us off fossil fuels. People want better cell phone coverage and higher bandwidth, but not the cell towers that are required to provide a higher level of performance.
Posted by Neighbor, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on Nov 11, 2010 at 7:48 am
I read the links as well last night. I'm not as concerned about the potential health effects as some, although I was not convinced either way, I would personally err on the side of caution. But I am very disappointed in the way this issue was handled by the church.
As a 30+ year resident of Mountain View, I can honestly say I cannot recall having a bad neighbor, until now. There seem to be a fair number of people who are concerned and I believe the curch should have given their concerns some serious consideration, which I have a difficult time believing they did.
I hope the cell tower helps Fir$t Pre$byterian Church and it's good pa$tor Tim Boyer spread their me$$age.
Posted by Hardin, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on Nov 11, 2010 at 7:42 pm
Thanks for the link. It appears there are approximately 488 antennae in a 4 mile radius around the new proposed location. Understandably, there is a large concentration of antennae around El Camino Hospital, and downtown Mountain View.
We're just at the advent of the smart phone, iPad technology adoption, and that higher bandwidth, more reliable cell coverage is critical for this to succeed.
I wonder too, how wireless signals from various sources: radio, wireless home networks, etc play into potential exposure risk, if at all.
Posted by Another Neighbor, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on Nov 11, 2010 at 8:50 pm
I'd like to say I'm surprised by people's dependence on all this new technology, but I'm not. In the age in which people become completely lost and disfunctional when Twitter goes down, everyone's life story (no matter how boring) is plastered on Facebook and people walk and drive around with a cell phone permanently attached to their ear, it's no surprise that at all.
A pathetic bunch we've become.
One more thing, if, as the pastor said, the money the church is being paid is not important and they are truly doing this for the benefit of the community, why not do it for free?
Posted by neighbor, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on Nov 12, 2010 at 3:37 am
Whether the radiation causes problems in the future, no one will know. The structure, according to other news sources will give the church $1700 per month. Like the preschool parents were not informed until after the first city zoning session in MV, I wonder if the members of the Open Door Church and the parents of the BoyScouts were informed, and not just the "top" of the food chain.
Posted by Hardin, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on Nov 12, 2010 at 10:16 am
"I'd like to say I'm surprised by people's dependence on all this new technology, but I'm not. In the age in which people become completely lost and disfunctional when Twitter goes down, everyone's life story (no matter how boring) is plastered on Facebook and people walk and drive around with a cell phone permanently attached to their ear, it's no surprise that at all.
A pathetic bunch we've become."
You aren't, really?
So you writing this comment in a web enable forum doesn't qualify you as a user of technology? Technology is ubiquitous now, in everything from your car, your telephone, and your wallet. So unless you live in a cave somewhere, pay with cash only, grow your own food, and ride a horse, you rely on technology just like the rest of us.
I don't have a Facebook account (yet), nor do I text on a regular basis, but that doesn't mean these mechanisms are of no value. In my case, I haven't tried them yet, so I can't and won't make a judgement on them.
To be sure, the older generation has a harder time with this "share everything" propensity the internet generation practices, and the jury isn't out yet what the long term ramifications for having your past archived on the internet may bring, but the fact is that this technology is here to stay, and understanding it, its strengths and weaknesses is a better than dismissing it out of hand.
Posted by Seer, a resident of the Castro City neighborhood, on Nov 12, 2010 at 10:55 am
Sorry gang, this isn't about God, it's about science. I think the scientific truth, that people are subjected to far more EM radiation coming from their cell phones, computers, in-house wiring, and (surprisingly) bedside clocks than they get from cell phone towers is inescapable. And that fact alone means that whether the RM radiation is dangerous or not is not the point: the point is that those of you focused on the cell phone tower are aiming your insight or lack thereof in the wrong direction. Why shouldn't the church make a few bucks? Most of you parishioners don't tithe much anyway. It's their tower, and the EM radiation will be less than what your kids get from their cell phones or TVs.
Posted by Reactionary, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on Nov 12, 2010 at 2:46 pm
@Reactionary, Sometimes adults use words in non literal ways to make their point, but its quite obvious that I need to be more literal for you, so here you go: I think the people opposed to this tower have unfounded fears that are not based more on irrational panic than based on facts.
Now that everyone including you can see my post WAS in fact more to the point that your post (which seemed to be just whining about my post)
Posted by A. Reader, a resident of the Old Mountain View neighborhood, on Nov 13, 2010 at 1:05 am
Oh, sorry, other associated health concerns regarding gravitons -- Suppressed Immune Function, Impaired Nervous System, Alzheimer's, Sleep Disorders, Memory Impairment, Seizures, Effects on the Blood Brain Barrier, and not to forget the all-important Chronicle Fatigue Syndrome! P.S.: Did I also mention Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder?
Posted by @Reactionary, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on Nov 13, 2010 at 3:50 pm
"@Reactionary, Sometimes adults use words in non literal ways to make their point, but its quite obvious that I need to be more literal for you, so here you go: I think the people opposed to this tower have unfounded fears that are not based more on irrational panic than based on facts.
Now that everyone including you can see my post WAS in fact more to the point that your post (which seemed to be just whining about my post)
your apology is not needed. Have a great weekend."
Posted by Reactionary, a resident of the Cuesta Park neighborhood, on Nov 16, 2010 at 10:53 am
@Reactionary. That was an "Oh yah, well same to you" reply.
Oh really you got me with your astounding creative writing skills, haha :)
What was your original post about? Oh yah, whining about how MY posts weren't on topic (which we later identified as a comprehension issue on your part). I've read both your posts and can comfortably say
that you seem to be the real offender of not adding to the discussion. That's a bit hypocritical if you understand and believe the definition of hypocrisy, but that's your life to live so I'll let you enjoy it.