Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Excellent letter to the Arizona Daily Star

The Arizona Daily Star
Published: 08.27.2008

Community should be cautious on cell towers
By Elizabeth Kelley
I hope parents aren't being misled by a recent front-page story in the Arizona Daily Star ("TUSD scraps West Side cell-phone tower plans," Aug. 23). As the article indicates, Robins Elementary Principal Elizabeth Minno said the tower issue "might be brought up for discussion in the future."
I have worked on this issue for more than 12 years, both in the United States and internationally. As the article states, the debate at Robins is "a microcosm of one taking place nationwide, and it's not limited to schools. Sometimes, it's neighborhood and homeowner associations that balk at the installations," and for good reason.
Increasingly, neurological symptoms are being reported in communities where wireless transmitters are located, including poor concentration, memory loss, depression, headaches, sleep problems, as well as cancers and other diseases.
It is for this reason that the BioInitiative Report, a report by 16 independent scientists worldwide, called in 2007 for biologically based electromagnetic field exposure standards.
The Venice Resolution, signed by 55 scientists and physicians throughout the world, was released by the International Commission for Electromagnetic Safety in June. The resolution supports new standards and takes "exception to the claim of the wireless communication industry that there is no credible scientific evidence to conclude there (is) a risk" from electromagnetic fields.
As the Star's article indicates, the standards used by the Tucson Unified School District are set by the Federal Communications Commission, standards that are more than 10 years old and do not take into account the most recent research.
Moreover, the FCC is not a health agency and, as is the case with many federal regulatory agencies, could be charged with doing the bidding of the industry it regulates rather than protecting public health.
While everyone agrees that the science is not definitive, more and more school districts are adopting a precautionary stance. As the article indicates, "parents in Brooklyn, San Diego and Denver have staged protests to try to head off new towers at schools . . . (and in an Oregon school district) board members voted in July to ban cell towers on district land."
It should be noted also that this is the policy of the Los Angeles Unified School District. And, last summer, the Frankfurt, Germany, school district banned the installation of WiFi transmitters pending further scientific evidence of their safety.
It's tempting in these financially stressful times to raise money wherever one can, whether from the installation of cell towers or food vending machines.
I support parents who are concerned about the safety of their children and do not want them needlessly exposed to non-ionizing radiation — the effects of which may not be discernible for many years — until biologically based exposure standards are in effect and wireless technologies are warranted as safe.
Write to Elizabeth Kelley at