Letter to the editor: Reader cites health concerns regarding possible cell tower
The proposed location of a new cellphone tower on the greenway between Pecan and Butternut Parkways shows disregard for the health of Marshfield residents given the body of research clearly demonstrating the negative health effects of radio-frequency radiation (RFR) emitted by cellphone infrastructure. Current government regulations of RFR establish safe exposure thresholds based on damage caused by the heating of tissue, known as thermal effects. However, these restrictions do not account for the nonthermal effects of RFR because their impact on the human body is not as well understood.
Although there are no industry studies on the health effects of exposure to RFR from cellphone towers, the consensus among independent scientists is that the nonthermal effects are damaging both in the short and long term. Short-term exposure is correlated with an increase in headaches, memory loss, dizziness, depression, and sleep disturbance (Abdel-Rassoul et al., 2007). Proximity to a tower increases the intensity of these effects, with the most severe symptoms occurring in individuals 300 meters or less from the source (Santini et al., 2002). Given the current proposed location of the tower, the school children of Lincoln Elementary would fall within the 300-meter radius.
Although the sides of effects of RFR in the short term may seem nothing more than irritating and inconvenient, the severity of health issues increases with the duration of exposure. In a German study, five to 10 years of exposure to RFR from a cellphone tower tripled the cancer risk of all individuals living within 400 meters of one (Eger et al., 2004). Cancers also presented an average of eight years earlier than an analysis of lifestyle and family history would otherwise predict. A similar study in Israel found people living near cellphone towers were 4.15 times as likely to develop cancer with as little as three years of exposure (Wolf and Wolf, 2004).
RFR does not impact every individual in the same manner. Children are at much greater risk for adverse effects from RFR exposure because their skulls are thinner and relative size is smaller (Morgan et al., 2014).
The city of Marshfield, if they accept the current proposed location, is placing children, the most vulnerable group of individuals, within 300 meters of a cellphone tower, the radius where the most severe health impacts occur. The city is also endangering other neighborhood residents who purchased property with the confidence that they would not be involuntarily exposed to known health hazards. While leasing the greenway property would provide the city with an additional, albeit minimal, source of revenue, legal costs should residents become ill would far exceed the paltry financial gains.
I sincerely hope that the representatives of the city of Marshfield have the wisdom to make policy decisions guided by science rather than profit and pursue an alternate location for the proposed cellphone tower.