Monday, June 9, 2008

Lodi Schools /Long term phone study

Cell towers a health risk at Lodi schools?
Trustee raising concerns over deal

LODI - Lodi Unified Trustee Bonnie Cassel is speaking out against contract agreements reached between the district and two wireless telephone companies to install cell phone towers on high school campuses.

Cassel, who was the lone dissenter in a 6-1 vote to approve the contracts in February, says the district should think twice about allowing companies to install cell phone towers that emit radiofrequency radiation, because she believes they could cause long-term health effects including cancer.

"There's a possibility that there are side effects, and there are no studies done on how these towers effect children," Cassel said. "I'm worried that not enough people in the community are aware of this."

District facilities chief Art Hand said he realizes there are people who have concerns regarding cell towers, but that neither the district nor cell phone companies would promote school installations if there was hard evidence proving they cause health risks.

"The cell phone towers and whatever issues they bring fall within FCC guidelines," Hand said.

Bear Creek High School will soon have a cell phone tower installed by wireless company T-Mobile. A similar one by Metro PCS will be installed at McNair High School. The district will be paid $1,500 a month, or $18,000 a year, for each tower, Hand said.

Lodi Unified currently has one cell tower in the district, located at the district office.

Across the country, people have protested the installation of towers, and some districts, including Los Angeles Unified, have banned them, Cassel said. No district has banned them locally.

Stockton Unified does not have any towers at its schools, but Tracy Unified has a tower at its technology administration office. Manteca has one at its school farm. Officials say there has been no controversy over those towers in any of the three districts.

Schools are targeted by the wireless companies because the antennas can be easily installed on existing stadium lights. Schools are also built in close proximity to neighborhoods and businesses, providing a good location for a wireless company to strengthen its signals for customers who live or work nearby.

Los Angeles Unified School District, California's largest school district, cited health concerns when it banned the installation of cell phone towers on school grounds in 2000. The district's resolution indicates the decision was made because no studies have been done that eliminate the possibility of health risks in children exposed to cell phone towers at close proximity.

In 2007, a London wireless company called Orange agreed to remove a mast from atop an apartment complex after seven residents living on the top floor were stricken with cancer, according to the London Evening Standard.

"That's what's bothering me. There's enough information out there that's controversial," Cassel said. "Why create that anxiety?"

Hand said he is going to request T-Mobile pay for him to commission a third-party engineering analysis to find out if there are any real health risks posed by cell towers.

"If the report comes back that people's health will be at risk, I'm confident the board will act appropriately," Hand said.

Contact reporter Keith Reid at (209) 367-7428 or


Health risk of long-term mobile phone use to be studied by scientists

By Geoffrey Lean, Environment Editor
Sunday, 8 June 2008

Scientists have started work on a massive official study to discover whether the long-term use of mobile phones causes brain cancer, and Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases.

The study – whose launch vindicates an Independent on Sunday campaign to draw attention to potential risks of using handsets for over a decade – will initially involve 200,000 people in Britain, Denmark and Sweden, and hopes to increase its range to other European countries. The British part of it alone will cost £3.1m, provided jointly by the Government and by the mobile-phone industry.

The research – which is being led in Britain by a team from Imperial College, London, under the auspices of the Mobile Telecommunications and Health Research (MTHR) Programme – will follow 90,000 mobile-phone users in this country over the years, to see what happens to them. It is important because cancers take at least 10 years – and normally much longer – to develop, but the phones have spread so rapidly and recently that relatively few people have been using them for that long. Official assurances that the phones do not cause the disease have been of little value as they are based on research that, at best, includes few people who have been exposed to radiation from the phones long enough.

Last October, this newspaper reported that the most comprehensive study to date – a review of all the research on people exposed for more than a decade – had found that they were twice as likely to get brain cancer on the side of the head where they held the handset.

Last night, Mike Bell, chairman of the Radiation Research Trust, hailed the launch of the new study as a "breakthrough" and said it had partly come about because of the way the IoS had put the issue "into the public domain".