Cell phone tower risks should not be dismissed | February 11, 2011 | Mountain View Voice | Mountain View Online |


Mountain View Voice

Opinion - February 11, 2011

Cell phone tower risks should not be dismissed

by Young Fu

The Jan. 14 Voice editorial was quite unsettling. First, the editorial completely missed the central challenge of installing a cell phone tower in our neighborhood, and second, it offered health advice to parents.

The Voice writes, "Absent any real data from protestors that showed [harm]...the council did the right thing in permitting them." In fact, the appellants presented no data on health effects. Why? It's forbidden by federal law.

The Telecom Act of 1996 forbids any lower governing body to consider any scientific evidence on health effects.

The appeal was not based on health at all. It was centered on the many zoning ordinances that were being violated to push this through. The City Council should have denied the permit because the base station is a commercial use on a residential parcel. "Communications facilities" are not a permitted use, and since Clearwire is not a public utility, no exceptions apply. End of story. At least it should have been.

Wherever one lands on the risks of RF emissions, the scariest bit to come of this proceeding is how little the City Council feels compelled to follow the rules.

As to the editorial's proffering of health advice — "We recommend parents study results from a before and after radiation level test planned by Clearwire ...there will be no reason for preschool parents or neighbors to worry" — what credentials are you relying upon? Are you staffed with independent epidemiologists who have researched this area?

Understanding how microwave radiation penetrates living cells and disrupts DNA repair mechanisms is tricky stuff. If the Voice is going to come out with a prescription of "don't worry, be happy," we'll thank you to explain who is making that recommendation and what information they are basing it on.

Dr. George Carlo wrote an insider's account of how the industry buried the science. Dr. Carlo ought to know — he was the scientist they hired to do just that!

Carlo's book, "Cell Phones: Invisible Hazards in the Wireless Age" goes through the history of the cell phone industry. It contains detailed memos and private conversations among chief lobbyists, politicians and PR spinsters. It dives deep into the science as well.

What emerges is a picture of serious health implications against a backdrop of greed and bureaucratic ineptitude. The industry has become "too big to fail" and the government has become complicit in shielding it. Should plaintiffs be allowed to present scientific evidence and win, the scale of a government bailout would be outrageous.

For over 15 years now, politicians, journalists, and even the "watchdog" agencies have been asleep at the wheel. Epidemiologist Devra Davis has called this "an epidemic in slow motion."

We're Mountain View. We are leaders, not lackeys. Let's start acting that way.

Young Fu lives on Miramonte Avenue.


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Posted by Liz
a resident of North Whisman
on Feb 11, 2011 at 5:58 pm

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Posted by Disagree
a resident of another community
on Feb 18, 2011 at 8:59 am

Young Fu's comments are missing the point of why we have a federal government. He is correct, the Cellular industry is BIG business. It got that way because the Federal Goverment and the FCC along with their scientists and epidemiologists determined that the RF emissions for cell towers (and your cell phone) are safe. They set limits, conducted studies, etc. If you disagree with their findings, you have to fight the FCC. Trying to take on the FCC through Mountain View's construction planning department is ridiculous. Could you immagine if every little town in the USA had do conduct their own studies to determine if paint is safe? of if microwave ovens are safe? of if baby monitors are safe? etc, etc, etc. Imagine if each city had to determine which cars are safe to drive. That's why we have the FCC and the EPA. Here's a good analogy of Young Fu's claim: Would you argue about the unhealthiness of candy with the cashier selling the candy at Walmart?

So, without saying that RF emissions from cellular communications are safe or unsafe (I'll leave that to the professionals), I'm saying that you need to deal with the cause of the perceived problem, not the symptom.