Fight the Tower


Subaita Rahman, Entertainment and Humor Editor

On Oct. 9, parents and students attended a Fremont City Hall meeting to protest the construction of a new Verizon Cell Phone tower in the field by the Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish, a church near Irvington. Many of the attendants came in response to some alarming information shared about the connection of brain cancer and cell phone radiation from ASG. About a week later, the administration sent out an email in response to the failed attempt to stop construction, claiming that “the Irvington community, while disappointed in the decision, is not willing to stop the fight against the cell tower.” They expressed the hopes “to gather evidence to build a collected case to present at the next meeting.”

So, what case could they bring forward? With the construction of the new cell phone tower, many people from both sides are preaching a lot of unreliable information. Yes, there is still no proof of any long-term effects of radiation; however, proposed theories show a correlation between radiation and serious health defects like cancer and infertility. In fact, the Supreme Court recently ruled in favor of a cancer patient who claimed a nearby cell tower was the cause of his condition; the tower was ordered to deactivate shortly after. At the end of the day, the main force driving people to these decisions are, in essence, just theories. But are we really going to wait around to build this tower and prove these theories right?

Before we jump to any conclusions, it’s important to understand how cell phone towers work. Cell towers communicate with each other through radiofrequency (RF) waves, and these very long, relatively weak waves move horizontally. It’s the downward scatter that affects people, but even then, not as much as people think: non-ionizing radiation doesn’t affect DNA the same way gamma rays and UV light (known carcinogens) do – in fact, they don’t affect DNA at all. According to the American Cancer Society, RF rays at their highest levels would only be able to slightly heat up body tissues.

Still, many people have their concerns, no matter what data is available. Even though many oncologists claim the radiation isn’t a cause of cancer, not of all the science community agrees. In fact, there is still research going on in the World Health Organization claiming that regular cell phone exposure over a long period of time can cause cancer.

This prompts the question: how much danger does radiation put us in now, even without the tower? The American Cancer Society again reveals that cell phone tower RF waves “are not significantly different from the background levels of RF radiation in urban areas from other sources, such as radio and television broadcast stations.” Yes, it’s true that a little radiation is still worse than no radiation, but our continuous exposure to cell phones – always either in our hands, in our pockets, or under our pillows – is more of a threat than this cell phone tower. Previous studies have proven, aslike mentioned before, that there was no link between a pregnant mother’s exposure to radiation and the chance of early childhood cancer, to name one specific conclusion. There is an abundance of other studies and cases to observe that steadfastly keep “cell towers cause cancer” strictly as a theory and nothing else.

However, because of this widespread fear of cell phone towers, people undoubtedly aren’t very keen to live near one, and this will in turn affect housing prices near the tower (in other words, they’ll drop). This is also what makes this a personal issue for many of those against the cell tower. Fremont’s current ecosystem is built off of rising property values, especially for those around schools, and building a cell phone tower right next to Irvington negates that. Low property value can lead to upside down mortgages if dramatic enough, and can upset the personal finances of many Irvington locals.

It’s true. T, there was a better way to handle this whole situation. Verizon didn’t notify the nearby schools of their plans, only the houses within a 300 meter radius, and even then at a very late notice with a weak excuse. All the same, people started spewing information left and right about how everyone would be at risk for cancer. In truth, the Verizon tower, from a scientific standpoint, will not add a significant amount to the amount of radiation we already face daily, and in turn will not be as much of a danger as people think. This information is readily available with a five minute Google search, something to protect against the next fear-mongering petition.