Update: On September 3, 2014, it was announced that the vendor responsible for the cell tower project withdrew its proposal to the Naperville school district. It is thought the growing public opposition to the towers may have played a role in this action. Possibly the information on this webpage will be of use to others where cell towers are proposed in the future on school grounds.
On the evening of June 16th, 2014, the Board of Education for the Naperville, Illinois School District 203 met to discuss a “Proposed Cell Tower Lease at Lincoln and Kennedy Junior High Schools.”
Specifically, the Board of Education was requested “to review and consider information provided in order to advise Administration on its interest in formal consideration of the two requests.”
Based upon the results of the June 16 meeting, the Board of Education plans to continue to research and consider the lease agreement. The Board realizes that community members and parents may be opposed to the cell towers being placed at the school, but some board members just seemed enticed with the additional modest income stream that the cell tower leases would provide. If the Board decides to move forward after some additional fact-finding, community meetings/ hearings will be held. It was disappointing that the Board just couldn’t say “No” at this time and move on to other issues.
[Note: There were public comments at the meeting, and a video excerpt is presented later in this blog article.]
SkyVision Solutions has previously written on the subject of cellular towers being erected on or near school property:
To again help make the point on the inadvisability of cell towers being erected on school property, two principal avenues of thought will be presented, one technical and one not so technical.
Why Go to the Trouble of Causing Parents to Worry?
Regardless of the technical arguments, why make some parents worry about cell tower radiation unnecessarily? The school is in the business of educating children. Promoting the emissions of radiofrequency (RF) radiation from cellular towers on school property is not related to that endeavor and is not required to fund school operations.
To bring home this point, let’s review a recent proposal for a cell tower to be erected in Edwardsville, Illinois on school property. Please watch the following 1 minute 30 second video describing the proposal. This video represents an excerpt from a news report regarding a school meeting held on February 19, 2014.
[The above video contains an excerpt from a news report by KSDK TV in St. Louis, MO. This video is presented in the public’s interest and contains material used pursuant to Fair Use Doctrine under 17 U.S.C.]
On March 11, 2014, the Edwardsville, IL District 7 Board of Education unanimously agreed to end discussions with AT&T. According to a news report, Board ends tower discussions with AT&T:
The Edwardsville District 7 Board of Education unanimously agreed to terminate discussions with AT&T about the possibility of constructing a cellular tower on Leclaire Elementary School property. The decision came after the district coordinated a public meeting on February 19th between AT&T representatives and Leclaire area residents.
Edwardsville District 7 Superintendent Ed Hightower … noted that while AT&T’s research had shown that the safety of residents and students would not be compromised by the installation of the tower…, the overriding feelings from parents was that they were concerned for the safety of their children because the impact of cell towers is largely unknown at this time.
A Technical Perspective and the Precautionary Approach
There is evidence that exposure to cell tower emissions is associated with health-related effects such as headaches, sleep disturbances, and similar complaints. In this section, we will present a narrowly focused, logical, and compelling argument based solely upon RF radiation being declared a possible carcinogen.
In May 2011 at the meeting at the Headquarters of the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in Lyon, France, the Working Group of 30 scientists nearly unanimously declared radiofrequency (RF) radiation as a possible carcinogen. This declaration has effectively been ignored by the promoters of wireless technologies.
Here is the argument of why the IARC declaration should not be ignored:
The decision to classify RF radiation as possibly carcinogenic was based predominantly on the results of the epidemiological studies showing that long term extensive use of cell phones increases the risk of developing brain cancer.
This means that the possible health effect of cancer developed in people using regular cell phones, compliant with current Federal Communications Commission (FCC) radiation emission safety guidelines. Objectively, one can then conclude that current RF exposure guidelines are insufficient because the amount of radiation emitted by the cell phones causes an increased health risk of developing cancer. Once one accepts that FCC or similar international guidelines are insufficient for protection for cell phone radiation, we have no assurance that such guidelines are acceptable for any other wireless devices including cell tower emissions.
Beyond the actual IARC declaration of RF radiation being possibly carcinogenic to humans, there is an important paragraph contained in the full IARC Monograph, Volume 102, for non-ionizing radiation (and radiofrequency electromagnetic fields), published April 2013:
“Although it has been argued that RF radiation cannot induce physiological effects at exposure intensities that do not cause an increase in tissue temperature, it is likely that not all mechanisms of interaction between weak RF-EMF (with the various signal modulations used in wireless communications) and biological structures have been discovered or fully characterized. Biological systems are complex and factors such as metabolic activity, growth phase, cell density, and antioxidant level might alter the potential effects of RF radiation. Alternative mechanisms will need to be considered and explored to explain consistently observed RF dependent changes in controlled studies of biological exposure.”
The above paragraph is an acknowledgment that RF induced changes are occurring in controlled studies which cannot be explained through a thermal mechanism, … the only mechanism accepted by the FCC. Because of this IARC acknowledgment and the fact the current exposure guidelines are known to only protect against thermal RF-related effects, there is clear justification to implement a precautionary approach with regard to further exponential expansion of wireless technologies in our society until further research is completed.
Consistent with the precautionary approach, SkyVision Solutions recommends, at a minimum, the avoidance of chronic, involuntary, and unnecessary RF exposure. This is the sort of exposure that would be received on school grounds from cell tower emissions. Mere compliance with outdated FCC exposure guidelines cannot be the sole criteria by which RF exposure on school property is determined to be “safe” or prudent.
There is also the issue that for diseases such as brain cancer that it can take decades for the effects to reveal themselves. Is it wise to sign long-term (25 year) lease agreements with carriers while we await the results of more definitive research of RF-related health effects?
Commentary on the American Cancer Society Document on Cell Phone Towers
The agenda for the Naperville School District Board meeting includes reference of an American Cancer Society (ACS) document purporting to show that, “Cell phone towers are not known to cause any health effects.” SkyVision Solutions could perform a line by line refutation of this document but will concentrate on two paragraphs:
“At ground level near typical cellular base stations, the amount of RF energy is thousands of times less than the limits for safe exposure set by the US Federal Communication Commission (FCC) and other regulatory authorities. It is very unlikely that a person could be exposed to RF levels in excess of these limits just by being near a cell phone tower.”
“IARC … noted that exposure to the brain from RF fields from cell phone base stations (mounted on roofs or towers) is less than 1/100th the exposure to the brain from mobile devices such as cell phones.”
The above statements assume that FCC exposure guidelines are acceptable which has just been placed into doubt by the information presented in the previous section. Therefore, we have no assurance that chronic exposure to RF levels 1,000 times less than the FCC exposure guideline is “safe.”
It is inappropriate and deceiving to compare cell phone exposure to base station exposure as explained in the ACS document. The average American uses a cell phone for voice communications for approximately 15 minutes per day which amounts to 1/100 of a 24-hour day. If one were exposed to a cell phone base station at close range on a chronic and continual basis at 1/100 of the level of a cell phone, then the total RF exposure over time would approach being the same under this scenario.
In addition, the perspective advanced by the ACS document is based upon a binary simplistic logic that exposure levels are either acceptable or not acceptable; is non-conservative from a public health protection viewpoint; and does not acknowledge utilizing a precautionary approach when limited evidence exists for adverse health effects but where the actual magnitude of the risks cannot be determined with certainty.
Wi-Fi Exposure vs. Cell Tower Exposure and Other Exposure Sources
SkyVision Solutions also opposes the widespread and indiscriminate use of Wi-Fi in our schools, but let’s deal with one problem at a time. For Wi-Fi exposure, the analysis can be more complex because at least it can be argued that students are gaining a benefit for the exposure received as part of the educational process. The problem here is that most school officials are not aware of the issues and concerns to make informed decisions.
In general, SkyVision Solutions shares the position taken by the American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM):
“To install Wi-Fi in schools plus public spaces risks a widespread public health hazard that the medical system is not yet prepared to address. … It is better to exercise caution and substitute with a safe alternate such as a wired connection. While more research is being conducted, children must be protected. Wired technology is not only safer; it [is] more secure.”
Finally, to emphasize the concept that the younger you are the more sensitive you are to RF radiation exposure, it may be appropriate for school officials to become familiar with the just announced BabySafe Project, a national awareness campaign that urges pregnant women (who could be teachers) to take simple steps to reduce a baby’s exposure to wireless radiation. Details can be obtained at the following link: Launch of the “BabySafe Project.”
Three residents did provide public comments at the Naperville School District 203 Board meeting. Although the entire video is part of the public record, SkyVision Solutions generally edits out the personal names of the members of the public for their privacy when placing videos on this website.
One resident questioned (toward the end of the above video clip) whether there were studies about people who lived within 75 yards of a tower, 365 days per year. This brings to mind the work done by Santini (2002) as portrayed below:
The above chart is derived from data found in the following article: “Study of the Health of People Living in the Vicinity of Mobile Phone Base Stations: [Part 1] Influence of Distance and Sex”; Santini R, Santini P, Danze JM.; Pathol Biol (Paris) 2002; 50: S369–73.
Discussion and conclusions of the published report include:
“This study gives evidence of the fact that bioeffects are reported by people exposed at up to 300 m from base stations.”
“The significant increase in the frequency of complaints in relation to the reference group (people exposed at > 300 m or not exposed) leads toward the observation found in the Australian governmental report indicating that at 200 m from a base station, some people exposed in their homes are complaining of chronic fatigue and sleep disruption.”
“From these results and in applying the precautionary principle, it is advisable that mobile phone base stations not be sited closer than 300 meters to populations and most significantly because exposed people can have different sensitivities related particularly to their sex.”
Published Study Listed in the American Cancer Society Document
One of the references listed in the ACS document linked to the Naperville School District 203 meeting agenda is the following:
- Wolf R, Wolf D., “Increased Incidence of Cancer near a Cell-Phone Transmitter Station,” Int J Cancer Prevention 2004; 1:123-128.
Although not consistent with the general tone or conclusion reached by the ACS document that “Cell phone towers are not known to cause any health effects.” here are quotes from the actual abstract and conclusion of the published paper referenced by the above ACS document:
“Significant concern has been raised about possible health effects from exposure to radiofrequency (RF) electromagnetic fields, especially after the rapid introduction of mobile telecommunications systems. Parents are especially concerned with the possibility that children might develop cancer after exposure to the RF emissions from mobile telephone base stations erected in or near schools. The few epidemiologic studies that did report on cancer incidence in relation to RF radiation have generally presented negative or inconsistent results, and thus emphasize the need for more studies that should investigate cohorts with high RF exposure for changes in cancer incidence. The aim of this study is to investigate whether there is an increased cancer incidence in populations, living in a small area, and exposed to RF radiation from a cell-phone transmitter station. …
In conclusion, the results of this study showed that there was a significantly greater incidence of cancers of all kinds within the vicinity of a cell-phone transmitter station. It would be certainly too premature to draw any conclusions from our results before they are confirmed and repeated by other studies from other areas, particularly in view of the fact that a great majority of papers on this subject showed that RF fields and mobile telephone frequencies were not genotoxic, did not induce genetic effects in vitro and in vivo, and were not found to be teratogenic or to induce cancers. The results of this paper should, however, serve as an alarm and emphasize the need for further investigations.”
Since there are apparently inconsistent or conflicting results in peer-reviewed literature regarding cell tower exposure health effects and in the above report — “alarming” results, a precautionary approach is clearly warranted. It is disingenuous for the ACS to merely state that “Cell phone towers are not known to cause any health effects,” and this type of statement therefore reflects bias. This perspective by an organization such as the ACS would appear to result from a reluctance to make any statements that would be a cause for action on the issue of RF exposure hazards. In a similar manner, the FCC recently made a disconcerting statement that the “adoption of extra precautionary measures may have the unintended consequence of opposition to progress … [and] increased anxiety in the population.”  What about the “anxiety” and physical harm that can be caused by refusing to take prudent measures to reduce or eliminate unnecessary RF exposure?
Substantial conflicting evidence should not be used as an excuse not to implement precautionary measures and for government officials to pretend that no health threat exists.
Wolf (2004) Article Reference: https://www.novapublishers.com/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=1881
 Page 33664 at: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/FR-2013-06-04/pdf/2013-12713.pdf
Other Relevant Published Articles and Selected Quotations
The following listing of published articles and selected quotations was carefully selected by SkyVision Solutions to provide a reasonable balance of the type of scientific information that exists on the topic of possible health effects caused by proximity to cell tower transmissions.
- “Neurobehavioral Effects Among Inhabitants Around Mobile Phone Base Stations,” Abdel-Rassoul, G, et.al., Neurotoxicology, 2007; 28(2), 434-40.
“The prevalence of neuropsychiatric complaints as headache (23.5%), memory changes (28.2%), dizziness (18.8%), tremors (9.4%), depressive symptoms (21.7%), and sleep disturbance (23.5%) were significantly higher among exposed inhabitants than controls: (10%), (5%), (5%), (0%), (8.8%) and (10%), respectively (P < 0.05). Inhabitants living nearby mobile phone base stations are at risk for developing neuropsychiatric problems and some changes in the performance of neurobehavioral functions either by facilitation or inhibition.”
[Editor Note: There have been several studies that show that living near cell towers (within 300 to 500 meters) is associated with an increase in “self-reported” health complaints such as headaches and sleep disturbances. It is hypothesized by critics of these studies that symptoms are caused by the awareness and fear over the presence of the cell towers themselves rather than the RF emissions from the towers. “Participation bias” in any single study cannot generally be ruled out, but based upon the numbers of studies that have been conducted with similar results, a trend is established which invites further research and the belief by many of the researchers that health complaints near base stations can not be fully explained by the awareness or concern over the cell tower presence.]
- “Subjective Symptoms Related to GSM Radiation from Mobile Phone Base Stations: a Cross-Sectional Study,” Claudio Gómez-Perretta, et.al., BMJ Open, 2013; 3:e003836.
“We performed a re-analysis of the data from Navarro et al (2003) in which health symptoms related to microwave exposure from mobile phone base stations (BSs) were explored, including data obtained in a retrospective inquiry about fear of exposure from BSs. … This new study partially confirms our preliminary results about microwave sickness resulting from exposure to emissions from GSM mobile phone BSs. Fatigue, irritability, lack of appetite, sleep troubles, depression and lack of concentration were especially related with GSM exposure. … A participation bias cannot be ruled out.”
- “Systematic Review on the Health Effects of Exposure to Radiofre-quency Electromagnetic Fields from Mobile Phone Base Stations,” Martin Röösli, et.al., Bulletin of the World Health Organization 2010; 88:887-896F. [Note: This document was also listed as a reference in the previously referenced ACS document.]
“… when data from all the randomized trials and epidemiological studies were considered together, no single symptom or symptom pattern was found to be consistently related to exposure. The cross-sectional epidemiological studies, however, showed a noteworthy pattern: studies with crude exposure assessments based on distance showed health effects, whereas studies based on more sophisticated exposure measurements rarely indicated any association. …
We excluded three epidemiological studies suggesting a link between cancer incidence and proximity to [Mobile Phone Base Stations] MPBSs and three studies indicating an association with non-specific symptoms because they did not fulfill our quality criteria. …
In conclusion, our review does not indicate an association between any health outcome and radiofrequency electromagnetic field exposure from MPBSs at levels typically encountered in people’s everyday environment. … Regarding long-term effects, data are scarce and the evidence for the absence of long-term effects is limited. Moreover, very little information on effects in children and adolescents is available and the question of potential risk for these age groups remains unresolved.
Where data are scarce, the absence of evidence of harm should not necessarily be interpreted as evidence that no harm exists. Further research should focus on long-term effects and should include children and adolescents.”
[Editor Note: The above article by the World Health Organization generally discounts the assertions by others that cell tower exposure can cause adverse health effects. Studies were reviewed that in fact found positive results but, in the end, the article abruptly states that: “In conclusion, our review does not indicate an association between any health outcome and radiofrequency electromagnetic field exposure from MPBSs …” The WHO does not consider or discuss the possibility of using a “precautionary approach” yet acknowledges that the issue is “unresolved” for children and adolescents.]
- “Mobile Phone Base Stations – Effects on Wellbeing and Health,” Kundi M and Hutter HP, Pathophysiology, 2009 Aug; 16(2-3):123-35.
“Studying effects of mobile phone base station signals on health have been discouraged by authoritative bodies like WHO International EMF Project and COST 281. WHO recommended studies around base stations in 2003 but again stated in 2006 that studies on cancer in relation to base station exposure are of low priority. As a result only few investigations of effects of base station exposure on health and wellbeing exist. Cross-sectional investigations of subjective health as a function of distance or measured field strength, despite differences in methods and robustness of study design, found indications for an effect of exposure that is likely independent of concerns and attributions. Experimental studies applying short-term exposure to base station signals gave various results, but there is weak evidence that UMTS and to a lesser degree GSM signals reduce wellbeing in persons that report to be sensitive to such exposures.”
“Despite some methodological limitations of the different studies there are still strong indications that long-term exposure near base stations affects wellbeing. Symptoms most often associated with exposure were headaches, concentration difficulties, restlessness, and tremor. Sleeping problems were also related to distance from base station or power density, but it is possible that these results are confounded by concerns about adverse effects of the base station, or more generally, by specific personality traits.”
“Two ecological studies of cancer in the vicinity of base stations report both a strong increase of incidence within a radius of 350 and 400m respectively. Due to the limitations inherent in this design no firm conclusions can be drawn, but the results underline the urgent need for a comprehensive investigation of this issue.”
- “A Population-Based Case-Control Study of Radiofrequency Exposure in Relation to Childhood Neoplasm,” Chung-Yi Li, et.al., Science of the Total Environment, 2012 Oct 1; volumes 435-436, pp 472-478. [Note: This document was also listed as a reference in the previously referenced ACS document.]
This study noted that Taiwanese children with higher-than median exposure of RF potentially emitted from [mobile phone base stations] MPBS were at significantly increased risk of all neoplasms combined. Although there were also positive associations [for] risks of brain neoplasm and leukemia in children, such associations did not reach statistical significance. … These results may occur due to several methodological limitations.”
- “Possible Effects of Electromagnetic Fields from Phone Masts on a Population of White Stork (Ciconia ciconia),” Balmori A, Electromagnetic Biology and Medicine, (2005); 24:109–19.
Report Findings: Severe decline in white stork productivity (nests with chicks) within 200 meters of a phone mast.
“This [study indicates] the existence of nests without chicks, or the death of young in their first stages in the nests near cellsites (40% of nests without young, compared to 3.3% in nests further 300 m). Also, in the monitoring of the nests near to cellsite antennae, some dead young were observed and several couples never built the nest.”
“These results are compatible with the possibility that microwaves are interfering with the reproduction of white storks and would corroborate the results of laboratory research by other authors.”
“The telephone industry could be taking advantage of the complexity of the biological and physical processes implied, … repeatedly denying the existence of harmful effects in living organisms. For this reason the reports related to animals are of special value, since in this case it can never be alleged that the effects are psychosomatic.”