Health Problems Due to Long Term EMF Exposure Doubtful
February 23, 2010
According to recent reports in the Greenwich Time, Greenwich, CT state legislators are proposing a bill that would prohibit building cell towers within 750 feet of a school or day care because of a perceived health risk from electromagnetic radiation. However, some Cos Cob, CT residents believe that the cell towers should not be permitted within 5,000 feet of any schools, day cares and elderly homes due to health concerns. Reportedly, the cell tower bill has been proposed by Rep. Fred Camillo, R-151st District, and supported by fellow Reps. Livvy Floren, R-149th District, Lile Gibbons, R-250th District, and Sen. L. Scott Frantz, R-136th District. There is no good evidence that attending school near a cell tower, such as the one proposed, creates a health risk. During the 1980’s, some plaintiff lawyers ballyhooed electromagnetic field (“EMF”) litigation as the “new asbestos.” A series of well-funded EMF trials were litigated against various electric utility companies around the United States in the 1990’s. After the presentation of the scientific evidence, judges and juries uniformly rejected plaintiff health claims. The Centers for Disease Control (“CDC”) website contains a great deal of reliable scientific information concerning health effects from radiation exposure from cell towers, cell phones, microwave ovens and hair dryers. According to the CDC, the risk is extremely low. The low frequency radiation that those fields emit may have a biological effect, but do not cause adverse health effects, according to the website of the World Health Organization (“WHO”), which has devoted years of study on EMFs. So what is a biological effect? WHO’s literature explains that “biological effects” may include “listening to music, reading a book, eating an apple or playing tennis,” none of which cause health effects. WHO’s conclusion is that there is no health risk to the EMF radiation to which the public is exposed. Thus, contrary to popular hysteria, there is no evidence that proximity to EMFs can “fry” a person’s brain or cause cancer. If our legislators are going to propose EMF safety precautions, they should base their proposals on strong science rather than fear. The "dose" or exposure from cell tower EMFs can be measured and quantified. Once that “exposure” is known, it is then necessary to look to the scientific literature to evaluate the likelihood of a health risk from that exposure. If EMF radiation posed a health risk to everyone living near a cell tower, it is a no-brainer that all cell towers should be dismantled–not just those near schools and day cares and homes for the elderly. The cell tower issue has always been about diminution of property value and aesthetics; it is not about our health!