By Sedona Resident Rita Livingston
(November 30, 2012)
Dear Mr. Mauk:
Thank you for your prompt communication. I understand that cell tower regulation comes under federal jurisdiction and is regulated by the FCC and not by local counties or municipalities.
In addition to the scientifically proven hazards posed by emissions from these towers, I harbor some serious reservations about inappropriate land use placement, which you verified as a matter of consideration that could be addressed by Yavapai County.
My concern is that such a tower could be potentially dangerous since it is being installed between two driveways. I could take a picture and send it to you if someone from your office has not seen the location. This becomes even more hazardous at night. If the driver does not have his turn-signal on or turns too quickly, the cell pole could be easily struck. And chances are likely that it will be an elderly driver, since the tower will be installed at the busy intersection of a senior living community.
Furthermore, the aesthetic issue obviously contradicts the mission of Verde Valley community plans and such towers should never be placed within such close proximity to senior residences and driveways in the first place. Mingus Mountain is one thing, but Sedona Pines is another.
I understand that you have your hands full with county matters, so I will pursue the health matter on my own. As a former newspaper publisher, I realize that proper documentation will be required to present these concerns to a federal agency. Please send me on official letterhead the county’s plans for the cell tower, with verification of the exact location between Sedona Pines and Sedona Shadows, as well as documentation that the radiation emission only spans for one mile. Then I will contact the FCC with my own documentation that shows how the tower impacts the large number of residents who live a stone’s throw from this tower installation.
The question, of course, becomes: What is the moral responsibility of local leaders to voice concern to the FCC regarding matters that endanger public health in their jurisdictions? Surely Planning & Zoning Commission members, as well as the County Board of Supervisors, must harbor some concern about the effects of such radiation — on themselves and their families?
Here is the real truth about cell phone towers, if anyone on the P&Z cares to know:
Studies show that cell phone towers expose the public to involuntary, chronic, cumulative Radio Frequency Radiation. Low levels of RFR have been shown to be associated with changes in cell proliferation and DNA damage. Some scientific studies show adverse health effects reported in the .01 to 100 mW/cm2 range at levels hundreds, indeed, thousands, of times lower than the U.S. standards. These towers emit radio frequencies (RF), a form of electromagnetic radiation (EMR), for a distance of up to 2 1/2 miles from the cell tower location. They are essentially the same frequency radiation as the microwaves in a microwave oven.
Reported health problems include headache, sleep disorders, memory impairment, nosebleeds, an increase in seizures, blood brain barrier leakage problems, increased heart rates, lower sperm counts, and impaired nervous systems. Studies have shown that even at low levels of this radiation, there is evidence of damage to cell tissue and DNA, and it has been linked to brain tumors, cancer, suppressed immune function, depression, miscarriage, Alzheimer’s disease, and numerous other serious illnesses.
Children are at the greatest risk, due to their thinner skulls, as are pregnant women. Also at greater risk are the elderly, a large population at the proposed tower’s current location.
Over 100 physicians and scientists at Harvard and Boston University Schools of Public Health have called cellular towers ‘a radiation hazard.’ And, 33 delegate physicians from 7 countries have declared cell phone towers a “public health emergency.”
The FCC sets the standards of exposure for the public, and claims that, based on scientific studies, the current levels are safe. But it is not a public health agency, and has been criticized as being “an arm of the industry.” Many who work for the FCC are either past, present or future employees of the very industries they are supposed to regulate. With an $40 billion dollar a year industry at stake, critics have stated: “You can bet that their studies are going to show whatever they want them to show.” Our federal government also once told us that asbestos, cigarettes, thalidomide, and the blood supply were “safe”, but which were later found to be harmful.
Scientists and advocacy groups say that the current FCC “safe” standards are based on 1985 research, and fail to consider more recent research that found brain cancer, memory impairment, DNA breakdown, and neurological problems with RF at much lower levels. Doctors say that RF radiation is wreaking havoc with normal biological cell functions.
Dr. Neil Cherry, a biophysicist , reports that “there is no safe level of ER radiation.” Dr. Cherry wrote a 120-page review of 188 scientific studies. He said the standards are based on thermal effects, but important non-thermal effects also take place, such as cell death and DNA breakdown. “The electromagnetic radiation causes cells to change in a way that makes them cancer forming.” It can increase the risk of cancer two to five times, he said. “To claim there is no adverse effect from phone towers flies in the face of a large body of evidence.” And Dr. Gerard Hyland, a physicist nominated for the Nobel Prize in Medicine, said: Existing safety guidelines for cell phone towers are completely inadequate.”
There is more extensive reference to scientific papers and government documents citing adverse health effects from cell tower radiation at www.cyburban.com/~lplachta/safeweb2.htm .
The cell industry lobbied Congress with $39 million in 1996 to ensure passage of a law which essentially gives them the right to place these towers in our neighborhoods, and makes it next to impossible to oppose them based on health reasons. It is no coincidence that EPA funding was also cut in 1996 for electromagnetic radiation health studies. Also, once a cell tower is erected, it has proved very difficult to verify the radiation is within legal limits. There are no safety measures in place to ensure that the towers are not emitting higher radiation levels than legally allowed.
The industry lobbied Congress with $39 million in 1996 to pass a law that took away citizen’s rights to oppose cell towers based on health reasons.
The Telecommunications Act prevents citizens from opposing the towers based on concerns about RF emissions, but ‘local governments’ can oppose them on numerous other valid grounds. ‘Numerous communities have called for moratoriums on tower construction, allowing them needed time to study the issue, and enact strict ordinances that require the industry to respect community desires, such as building the minimum towers necessary, in appropriate locations. WE CAN DO THE SAME.
PERHAPS YAVAPAI COUNTY SHOULD CONSIDER CREATING CELL TOWER MASTER PLANS, TO HELP PROTECT THE RIGHTS AND HEALTH OF CITIZENS, WHILE COMPLYING WITH THE LAW.
Siting of cellular towers is an important function of county leadership. Protection of citizens’ health and property rights should be foremost in the responsibilities of local government. I urge you to protect the health and welfare of the citizens who live here, rather than big-money interests of the cell industry with profit as their bottom line. Tower concerns should be about the health, not the aesthetics ‘ for the tourists of Sedona Pines, the senior citizens at Sedona Shadows, our animals and livestock, and the other inhabitants of your jurisdiction. So this is not about me or my neighbors; it’s about all of us and that includes YOU.
Thank you for your assistance.
Sedona, AZ 86336