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Why are there 261 cell phone antennas within 4 miles of my house?

By Sylvia Hampton

Sylvia's SoapboxWe have a virtual hailstorm of problems from state and local finances to global
warming and limited resources.  So forgive me---here's one more that I
was ignoring until my daughter got involved in the issue recently:  The
radiation health damage from cell phone antennas and other wireless transmissions.
Researchers are finding possible links to things like autism and cancer to
the disappearance of honey bees (who are responsible for about one third of
our food supply.)  So I guess we need to pay attention.  Here are
some facts and resources my daughter found and passed along to me: 

Antennas are the actual signal emitters (they use low-intensity microwave
radiation) for cellular, paging and other radio services.  Antennas can
be placed on towers or stand alone on top of offices, condos, churches, light
poles, signs, and other structures. Stand-alone antennas are small and difficult
to spot as they are easily hidden or camouflaged. Towers are tall structures
(typically over 200 ft) used for cellular, paging and other radio services.
Towers can contain multiple antennas owned by various companies and are also
often camouflaged (palm trees are one popular disguise here in Southern California).  According
to the website,
there are 73 towers and 261 antennas within 4 miles of my home in Scripps Ranch. 

The International Association of Fire Fighters has told the cell phone companies
they do not want the antennas on fire station roofs because of the health risks.  Los
Angeles City Schools have also banned them from their properties.  But
when local residents raise questions about their possible health and environmental
impacts and point to scientific evidence like that gathered in the recent Bioinitiative
Report (,
we are faced with this incredible fait accompli:  It is illegal
for our local governments to act on these serious concerns. 

The infamous Telecommunications Act of 1996 (TCA), one of the worst things
President Bill Clinton signed into law, lays out the authority for state and
local governments to make zoning decisions for the placement, construction,
and modification of  Personal Wireless Services (PWS) facilities, i.e.,
mobile phone base stations.   It states in part that state and local
governments may not "regulate the placement, construction, and modification
of personal wireless service facilities on the basis of the environmental effects
of radio frequency emissions to the extent that such facilities comply with
the commission's [i.e., FCC's] regulations concerning such emissions."  In
plain English, it says citizens cannot use the health risks of the antennas
to keep them from being placed near their homes, health care centers, and elementary
and nursery schools.   If their local governments use these potential
health risks as a reason to deny the antennas, the various companies can successfully
sue those governments in court.

Worry about your kids' health?  Tough.  Lots of luck, Mr. & Mrs.
America---here's a sharp stick in your eye and an antenna for good measure.
But you'll never have to worry about a dropped call.
To learn more visit the San
Francisco Neighborhood Antenna-Free Union
and Council
on Wireless Technology Impacts

Sylvia Hampton is a community activist inducted into the San Diego
County Women’s Hall of fame for 2008 for her work in the fields of healthcare
reform, social justice  and reproductive health.  She is the past
president of the League of Women Voters of San Diego County and served on President
Nixon’s Title X Family Planning Council.  Her monthly Community
Forum column is published in the Rancho Bernardo Sun, Diamond Gateway Signature,
and her “Soapbox” in the East County Magazine.

Opinions are Sylvia’s alone and not to be interpreted as
the policies of the League of Women Voters.

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