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Cell Tower Proximity and EMF Exposure

 
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We're looking at some land right now and the first thing my mom pointed out was the proximity of a cell tower. I kind of ignored it at first until a friend asked about the EMF exposure- a topic I'm no expert in but am familiar.

Upon further inspection, the tower is literally on the lot right behind the 4 acres we're looking at and is about .25 miles from the bottom of the property... but we'd most likely be building both on the top and in the middle making the two homes more like .12-.2 miles away from the tower.

Regarding the tower being an eyesore: the tower is on top of a hill, the property is on the descending slope of the hill after the initial steep incline so it is not in our immediate view but of course is still visible.

The map I used to look up the towers said this one was a 100-200 ft 'unregistered' tower... so I'm assuming that means it is less strong than a taller 'registered' tower. But really I don't know the significance of this.

So let me hear it:
Should we be weary of EMFs from this tower or is it just a bunch of woo-woo nonsense?
How do you think the exposure would compare to what we currently get in the suburbs?
What should we do to negate any effects?
Should we look for different land?

We're looking for land in a fairly populated area... so other properties could very well have this same issue. In fact, there are 5 acres down the road we looked at that has TWO towers just as close to it.
 
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Rebecca,

EMF is dangerous at specific frequencies and wavelengths.  EMF from Cell towers are nowhere near those wavelengths.  That EMF will simply pass through your body like it is not even there and not interact with the matter in your body.  In fact, EMF (actually the term should be electromagnetic radiation, but we can just use EMF as an abbreviation) is constantly permeating our environment--from distant radio and TV towers, overhead satellites, and a surprising amount from space itself (we have radio telescopes for just this application).  The list goes on.  In order for EMF to be damaging it must interact with matter and these wavelengths are simply too long to meaningfully interact with matter in your body--it simply passes through.  As a sort of field test, if EMF were going to be damaging to your body, something like a cell phone would lose reception/become inoperable as you turn your body to intercept the EMF between the phone and the cell tower.  Since you can have a conversation while moving your head and body in all sorts of directions with no loss of signal, it is evidence that the EMF is simply passing through your body unhindered and harmless.  

As a slight tangent, but also demonstrating the point, your body is absolutely seething with another form of radiation coming from the sun and there is absolutely nothing we can do about it.  Every cubic centimeter of your body has billions of particles called neutrinos passing through every second.  But don't worry, those neutrinos almost never interact with matter at all--virtually all those neutrinos could in fact pass right through another star without interacting with all the matter there.  My point is that the radiation would have to interact with your body to do anything dangerous and all that EMF just does not interact with matter in your body.

I hope this helps and good luck with your land!

Eric

 
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great topic.  the huge corporate interests that control communications have very little interest in having comprehensive studies coming to light. there is little to no funding for such studies.  one study that was done by a very intelligent woman at Austrailias premier technical university found that holding a cell phone to your ear has an effect similar to putting your head in a microwave oven and turning it on high. but it is a bit different and more harmful because the signals are pulsed. this might explain why so many people have been and are suffering from  brain tumors and brain cancer, just a couple famous people who have died from this in recent years are Edward Kennedy and John McCain . the lecture she gave on this study was either buried or squashed on youtube.
many people are very sensitive to signals and radios and microwaves put out by towers and devices. this is an area that needs more study in my opinion.
fiber optic is a viable option for connection to internet if you can find a modem or device connection that does not use wifi at user interface.
massively powerful emf or whatever its called that comes off cell towers could be the reason why so many people in urban areas seek psycholocical and psychiatric treatment
of course all lot of this is just my opinion except for the massive study that was done in australia.
 
bruce Fine
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thinking more about this do any of us even know what effects these signals can have on human or wildlife cells?
don't know if you ever saw pictures of people holding brightly glowing fully lit fluorescent tubes standing under high intensity power lines, these bulbs lit by the energy from power lines flowing through the air. but it is a thing and people who live under these types of power lines have been adversely effected.
 
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Are you sure it's a cell tower, and are there any other antennas on it?  You could review the types of antennas in the directionality of them and where there pointed to know whether or not there actually any signals being sent through your property. Or if it's only cell signals get someone with phones from the carriers on the tower to see how many bars they have. Many times properties really close to the cell towers have little to no signal because the antennas are more out than down in their directionality and aren't picking up sending directly below. I have a relative with that exact problem.

If it really worries you, build a house with a layer of reflective insulation behind the siding, a downside to that easy won't be able to use your cell phone inside unless you stand in front of a window.

I personally am not worried about the waves coming off of the cell towers harming me in any way shape or form, and if I was really worried about those I would be terrified of being in a city or the suburbs with everyone's Wi-Fi routers all over the place and a larger collection of TV stations and radio stations being broadcast non discriminately in all directions.  I would much rather at that point be in the rual setting with one tower to worry about
 
Rebecca Blake
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Eric Hanson wrote:EMF is dangerous at specific frequencies and wavelengths.  EMF from Cell towers are nowhere near those wavelengths.  That EMF will simply pass through your body like it is not even there and not interact with the matter in your body.



Even if it's just passing through your body and not 'conducting' in your body, so to speak, it is still present. My concern is that the unceasing presence at what I presume to be a greater strength (due to proximity to the tower) would take a toll on the body over time.

It is articles such as this the give me the concern: https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2008/02/07/the-cell-phone-quot-tower-of-doom-quot.aspx
(Can we all just have a collective eye roll over the fear mongering title, though?)

Which, I don't know... maybe it's the whole 'correlation is not causation' argument but there seem to be multiple studies done to show being close to the towers amplifies your chance of getting cancer.
But then again, what are the diets and lifestyles of these people? I'm a big believer that diet is the #1 cause of cancer. However, I don't need to put unnecessary stress on my body by living right under a tower (if it really does encourage cancer growth)

And then of course, there are plenty of sources saying there is NO concern of living close to a cell tower, but I'm naturally inclined to not trust those since the phone companies can easily fund such a thing and they have an obvious agenda.


bruce Fine wrote:thinking more about this do any of us even know what effects these signals can have on human or wildlife cells?
don't know if you ever saw pictures of people holding brightly glowing fully lit fluorescent tubes standing under high intensity power lines, these bulbs lit by the energy from power lines flowing through the air. but it is a thing and people who live under these types of power lines have been adversely effected.



Well, we're composed of mostly water so I understand how the current goes through these people! But still, yikes! I do wonder if the same thinking applies to the cell towers.

John Young wrote:Are you sure it's a cell tower, and are there any other antennas on it?  You could review the types of antennas in the directionality of them and where there pointed to know whether or not there actually any signals being sent through your property. Or if it's only cell signals get someone with phones from the carriers on the tower to see how many bars they have. Many times properties really close to the cell towers have little to no signal because the antennas are more out than down in their directionality and aren't picking up sending directly below. I have a relative with that exact problem.



Well, I did look it up on a map for identifying cell towers and antennas and it showed up so it appears to be a cell tower 100%. My husband was showing me an image explaining this exact phenomena of the signals only reaching the ground at a certain distance from the tower. 'Lucky' for us, we'd be right where the tower first hits the ground. Go figure!


If it really worries you, build a house with a layer of reflective insulation behind the siding, a downside to that easy won't be able to use your cell phone inside unless you stand in front of a window.

I personally am not worried about the waves coming off of the cell towers harming me in any way shape or form, and if I was really worried about those I would be terrified of being in a city or the suburbs with everyone's Wi-Fi routers all over the place and a larger collection of TV stations and radio stations being broadcast non discriminately in all directions.  I would much rather at that point be in the rural setting with one tower to worry about



We're already planning on having metal building homes regardless of what property we buy, and I hear they're great at jacking up cell service. :)

I also wonder if being directly under the tower would be way better than being in the suburbs because of the quantity, as you mentioned... If I remember correctly our current home has over 40 antennas to receive the cell towers' signals in a 3 mile radius where as the prospective property has about 18-25. We also discussed how currently we have 5 homes just immediately touching our suburban property, 2 of these and mine are multi-generational households (so I presume more phones and other electronics) and of course 5 smart meters, 5 wi-fi connections, etc.

Over the past few years I have learned to be a skeptic of (almost) everything, even ideas I generally agree with. It appears for this particular issue it has just put me in a spiral of confusion... This has left us discussing getting an EMF meter to compare our exposure in our current home to the prospective property but I'd much rather keep the $$$ in my pocket. Grr.
Anyone know anything of these meters and perhaps know which one would be good but won't break the bank?
 
Rebecca Blake
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Also a consideration, what are possible affects on nature? I found an article which states a particular example:

At one farm, where there are no cell phone towers, there are abundant signs of wildlife: e.g. migrating and resident birds, bats, small and large mammals, and insects including bees However, at the other farm with a cell-phone tower located adjacent to the berry patch, there are virtually no signs of wildlife: tracks, scat, feathers, etc. Here the berries on bush go uneaten by birds and insects while the ripened berries that have fallen to the ground are going uneaten by animals: turkey, fox, and other wildlife



Granted, we all know what a difference practicing permaculture has on all of these points brought up in this analysis. Maybe one farm simply was just better than the other and the tower had nothing to do with it.

Now I feel I need to go look at the property with fresh eyes- keeping an eye out for wildlife. From memory, I don't remember seeing many signs of wildlife such as what is listed here. But, that could be due to the hostility of the environment over all. (On a slope, low soil content)

A couple of neighbors are keeping bees and one beekeeper has livestock, so the tower obviously is not killing bees as this article seems to indicate they will. (Both those properties are farther from the tower than the one in question)
 
Eric Hanson
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Rebecca,

By all means check out the wildlife by those neighboring properties and the one you intend to buy.  Those indicators are going to be your best predictors of future fertility of the land.  You are in a tough position.  The land is there in an approximate area you you want.  You also have personal concerns about that very land.  Only you can decide what is best for you, but observing nature as it interacts with the land in question may answer your questions and concerns.

Good luck in your decision and please keep us updated.

Eric
 
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A thought: a cell tower could be a perfect nesting habitat, or hunting perch, for a small raptor like a Merlin or Cooper's Hawk (or your local resident feathered munchie). No surprise, any small bird with sense would leave town. I have seen how these small raptors create a nesting desert, which is why I make my displeasure known until they leave. Ambush hunters don't like some cranky resident gardener clapping two chunks of hardwood plan together (supersonic crack) messing up their schtick.
 
Rebecca Blake
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Thank you all for your replies, I greatly appreciate it.

Eric Hanson wrote:You are in a tough position.  The land is there in an approximate area you want.



It's actually literally right where we want it, adjacent to some friends :)
I'm planning on asking them about the tower, I know they won't think I'm TOO crazy for questioning it.


Douglas Alpenstock wrote:A thought: a cell tower could be a perfect nesting habitat, or hunting perch, for a small raptor like a Merlin or Cooper's Hawk (or your local resident feathered munchie). No surprise, any small bird with sense would leave town. I have seen how these small raptors create a nesting desert, which is why I make my displeasure known until they leave. Ambush hunters don't like some cranky resident gardener clapping two chunks of hardwood plan together (supersonic crack) messing up their schtick.



That's definitely something I never would had thought of all on my own, thank you for sharing!
 
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I'd definitely have some worries about it.  The information about it is as robust as it is about other environmental toxins where companies with a vested interest are involved.  Minimal money to study it from the skeptical side, plenty of money to study it (if desired) from the business side.

My slightly larger worry would be that you buy it and in a decade, more science comes out to show they're bad and your property value drops significantly.  While you can't get away from all signals in your area, being better than average would likely help in that situation.
 
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A meter like this will do the job. meter

As far as safety goes ... it's kind of like the yearly water test results sent out by cities. Just how much lead, arsenic, fecal solids, etc is acceptable to you? There are countless studies supporting either side of the issue. As the old saying goes, follow the money. If it were up to me we'd all be back to using land lines.

The inverse square law applies here. Doubling the distance quarters the effect. Tripling the distance reduces it to 1/9.

Cell phones work in the microwave band. Same as ovens & FEB weapons. Have you ever read the fine print buried deep in a cellphone owners manual?

The frequencies involved are very close to the resonant frequency of the water in our body's cells. Ever seen the opera singer shatter glass with their voice? It's like that.

Then there's a phenomenon called heterodyning. When 2 frequencies are mixed in a nonlinear device (such as your ear) there are 4 resulting frequencies. The original 2 and the sum and the difference between them. It can get whacky fast. Like this ...

 
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I am known to be sensitive to EMF pollution. When I was property shopping I was careful to not be close to towers.

I REALLY believe that if everyone could see what EMF pollution looks like, it would like the factories that billowed all the black smoke all day, and people would realize how bad it is and work on stopping it. But, since people can't see it, no one notices it. I am sure that at some point, all the EMF will be seen in the same light as all that factory pollution was.

My personal opinion: No way I'd buy that property. Yes, the tower is a serious long term problem, and one of these years, everyone will know it.

:D
 
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Like Pearl, I wouldn't do it.
 
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If one is technically inclined & really wants a visual of the amount of EMI/RFI floating around out there it's relatively easy to do. Find a degaussing coil for CRT color TVs. Cut the end off & install a BNC connector so it can be hooked up to the input of a good quality oscilloscope. Then you have a directional antenna that can help pinpoint sources. It is mind boggling to watch.
 
Pearl Sutton
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There's a thread here about sensitivity EMF/WIFI sensitivity in an increasingly EMF-filled world  and I put a post in it https://permies.com/t/132408/EMF-WIFI-sensitivity-increasingly-EMF#1049971 about how I tested with a borrowed meter, in an area, and what I learned.
 
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While I agree with Eric regarding the tangible risks, why buy land that others might find questionable when
It comes time to sell? For that reason, I would not buy it.
 
Carla Burke
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John F Dean wrote:While I agree with Eric regarding the tangible risks, why buy land that others might find questionable when
It comes time to sell? For that reason, I would not buy it.



Another very good point!
 
                        
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For a great but bleak journey into some history and studies of EMFs and radio waves read the book The Invisible Rainbow [Firstenberg].

we are electric..

I just passed on a property due to power line proximity :*(
 
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when i did highrise window cleaning i would encounter transmitters which were fenced off on the roof with warnings not to cross.
warnings of dangerous electromagnetic radiation
it was piece work so to get the job done i had to cross that barrier
i set up as quick as possible and got over the edge of the building
it had me thinking on the way down... i hope the persons bed is not in that corner of the room!
 
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Hey folks.

I was wondering how that modded oscilloscope would react to the electrical wiring of a standard, code-built house. Should we be rethinking how we use electricity in our homes?

For the most part, I agree with you, Eric. That said, I think Mike Haasl is right in that we need more study.

Anyone who's read through the Science VS. "Science" and engineering too thread knows how I lean on this issue. Reason before fear. But reason requires all the information, and the way we tend to source that these days is tainted.

So no, I don't think I would purchase land near cell towers if I had any choice in the matter, and if I can rig up that modded oscilloscope for when I go land hunting, I would find that really useful to know, as much so as the land use history and the industrial or business history of the area. I would similarly eschew high-tension power lines. I am currently looking at land by a major two-lane blacktop (HWY 7, for those who know). The variables involve possible expansion including eminent domain issues (I don't know if that's what they're called in this situation, so correct me if I'm wrong please), along with the usual discussion about what kind of reed bed and forest strip will I need to leave to turn the roadway from toxic input to water collector and cleaner.

But until we discover something we can make into clothing or grow up around our properties that can selectively shield us from EMF, it's pretty much a binary decision to make. Throw in the idea that future discoveries could decrease the value of your investment or render you unable to sell an asset you can't use yourself and I think that either you'd have to look surreptitiously to see if there was a local interest in the tower's removal, or perhaps start one. It sounds like if you get rid of the tower, there wouldn't even be a question for you.

I have read that some people have given their houses tinfoil hats, or rather made rudimentary Faraday Cages in the plaster of their walls and ceilings. I would love to test their efficacy at blocking EMF with the aforementioned modded oscilloscope.

I think what we really need is to be able to generate directed localised fields of EMF tuned precisely to cancel out those we wish to block, if this truly is a problem, an electro-magnetic adaptive interference field, like noise-cancelling headphones. There are issues of choice here that Pearl touched upon that bother me. We can't properly choose because all this tech has been foisted upon us (I was going to say "rammed down our throats," but nobody forced kids into arcades, or had a gun to their parents' heads when they bought Ataris, and more properly Nintendo Entertainment Systems. Modern technology was eagerly gobbled up; we are currently communicating using PCs, tablets, and smartphones, some of which were literally science fiction almost two decades ago, to interact on this site, to help the world and ourselves with permaculture. And let's be real. I wasn't the only one who got a flip phone with visions of Kirk's Star Trek gagetry in my head.).

So I think that I would pass unless there's an option to have it removed.

Sorry about it. But let us know how you proceed, and good luck.

-CK
 
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Chris Kott wrote:Hey folks. I have read that some people have given their houses tinfoil hats, or rather made rudimentary Faraday Cages in the plaster of their walls and ceilings. I would love to test their efficacy at blocking EMF with the aforementioned modded oscilloscope.


My old house had something like that: a metal roof and aluminum siding. Even though there was a cell tower only a block away, on more than a few occasions, I had to go outside in order to get half decent reception to make a call.
 
Mike Barkley
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I was wondering how that modded oscilloscope would react to the electrical wiring of a standard, code-built house. Should we be rethinking how we use electricity in our homes?


It will easily direct you to the wires hidden behind the walls. No problem. I should clarify the type of degaussing coil. The wimpy type built into each color tv won't be very efficient. Use one like this
for much better results. Simply replace the AC plug with a BNC connector & hook it to the o'scope.

Low frequency 50 or 60 hertz waves in a house are not too terribly concerning to me. Those same frequencies coming from the high power utility company power lines are more of a problem. Beware the ELF waves!

Faraday cages are much more complicated than they might seem. I'd venture to guess that most home made versions are not very effective.
 
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M. Phelps wrote:when i did highrise window cleaning i would encounter transmitters which were fenced off on the roof with warnings not to cross.
warnings of dangerous electromagnetic radiation
it was piece work so to get the job done i had to cross that barrier
i set up as quick as possible and got over the edge of the building
it had me thinking on the way down... i hope the persons bed is not in that corner of the room!


As others have noted, the signal strength of electromagnetic radiation (including light) falls off rapidly as you move away from the source (by the inverse square of the distance). The situation you encountered does sound dangerous and should not have been allowed adjacent to any inhabited quarters.

As has also been noted, the cell transmission antennas are directional, and if the antennas had been installed above inhabited space, there would likely be no danger at all. I live in a rural area beyond cable and get my Internet service via wireless "hub" that connects to a cellular network. The nearby tower, less than 500 meters away and just tall enough to need a blinking red light, is visible through the trees. I've put the hub in my second story office, more in the "beam", and get only 3 bars (out of 5).

When the tower was first proposed over a dozen years ago, I helped canvas the neighborhood with a petition to our council to block the application, citing primarily the Precautionary Principle. (I even read a paper on the subject during the petition period.) But the truth is that the level of radiation is so low that the tower poses no hazard -- and has the great benefit of enabling my access to Permies.com! I've also learned about hormetic effects and that humans evolved in a sea of radiation. Holding a cell phone to your head for long periods every day might expose your brain to risky levels of EMF, but I'd have no concerns about your preferred property being the least bit risky, and I doubt any future purchasers would either.
 
Rebecca Blake
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David Wieland wrote:As has also been noted, the cell transmission antennas are directional, and if the antennas had been installed above inhabited space, there would likely be no danger at all. I live in a rural area beyond cable and get my Internet service via wireless "hub" that connects to a cellular network. The nearby tower, less than 500 meters away and just tall enough to need a blinking red light, is visible through the trees. I've put the hub in my second story office, more in the "beam", and get only 3 bars (out of 5).

When the tower was first proposed over a dozen years ago, I helped canvas the neighborhood with a petition to our council to block the application, citing primarily the Precautionary Principle. (I even read a paper on the subject during the petition period.) But the truth is that the level of radiation is so low that the tower poses no hazard -- and has the great benefit of enabling my access to Permies.com! I've also learned about hormetic effects and that humans evolved in a sea of radiation. Holding a cell phone to your head for long periods every day might expose your brain to risky levels of EMF, but I'd have no concerns about your preferred property being the least bit risky, and I doubt any future purchasers would either.



This is 100% where I am at now. Though, because I come from a background of fearing cell towers I can still feel some hesitance. For example, I felt perfectly comfortable with the decision when we accepted the seller's offer yesterday and then immediately entered a state of panic once again when I came back to see many people on this thread saying not to do it and how they'd never live near a tower.

I'm a mathematician, so of course I ran some numbers on the situation with this particular land and tower. I found it a bit hard to find accurate information to work with, so if anyone is a source of authority and can tell me if these values regarding the tower's radiation are incorrect or correct please do share.

If: The cell tower's radiation extends out at a 5-10 degree angle from the top. Any distance from the base of the tower to where the radiation first hits the ground creates a 'shadow zone' of minimal radiation under the tower.
Tower A is 200 feet tall. Building site A's elevation is 120 feet lower than the base of the tower.

Then:
For building site A: Tan(90-5) = x/(200+120)
x=3658 ft
OR
Tan(90-10) = x/(200+120)
x=1815 ft

Therefore: The tower's radiation first hits the ground along building site A's elevation between 1815-3658 feet away from the base of the tower.
So, any home built on this elevation and between 0-1815 feet from the tower will receive minimal radiation.
Building site A is less than 1815 feet away from the tower base and will receive minimal radiation.

I would like to have some more verification that the signal extends down at a 5-10 degree angle. Regardless, it seems like a very logical conclusion to me since the pieces attached to the top of the tower face parallel with the face of the earth.. not toward the earth.

If nothing else, I'm glad to have taken this journey to reinvigorate my passion against EMFs so I can take measures to keep my phone away from me as much as possible AND AWAY FROM MY CHILDREN AND UNBORN. I can't believe how many pregnant women constantly rest their phones on their wombs or how many nursing mothers are on their phone as they nurse that 1 week old.
 
David Wieland
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I didn't check your math, but the key point is that you wouldn't be close enough to the tower to be concerned. One way to get a confirming test that doesn't need a specialized meter is to use a cellphone on the network using the tower. My next door neighbor was bummed out when the new tower didn't give him a strong signal even though he was on their network.

As the site you linked says, it's the transmitter in your phone that gives you the strongest EMF.

(I also noticed a misleading statement there:
"IARC (International agency for research on Cancer) declared radio frequency radiation (RFR) to be cancer causing in May 2011. "
IARC merely identifies hazards, that is, things that might cause cancer. Risk depends on exposure. A swimming pool is a hazard; the risk of drowning depends on other factors.)
 
Rebecca Blake
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David Wieland wrote:I didn't check your math



I mostly just wanted someone who has expertise in the field to verify that yes, the tower does send out the signals and therefore radiation at about 5-10 degrees descending from the top of the tower.


(I also noticed a misleading statement there:
"IARC (International agency for research on Cancer) declared radio frequency radiation (RFR) to be cancer causing in May 2011. "
IARC merely identifies hazards, that is, things that might cause cancer. Risk depends on exposure. A swimming pool is a hazard; the risk of drowning depends on other factors.)



Oh, thank you for pointing that out! That's the exact type of literature that makes me want to pull my hair out anytime I research something.

And the might is very important, a friend and I were having a discussion about the studies that show X number of people who lived Y distance from a tower came down with cancer. Who is to say there is not another factor at play such as water pollution? (I tend to believe these studies still since they have test samples such as tenants in the top floor of an apartment with a tower on top.)

She even mentioned a friend of hers whose whole family was coming down sick all at the same time. Some people may conclude it's EMF related, but it turned out their home had a serious toxic mold level- it had to be burned down it was so bad.
 
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