Came home last night to a flier stuffed into my mailbox regarding a supposed overbuild of cell phone towers in the neighborhood and the need for the community to stand together to oppose new cell sites. Never mind that there are plenty of dead zones, including my house. It appears that T-Mobile wants to put a cellphone tower at a local YMCA and one resident has decided to organize an opposition based on a belief of growing “radiation” danger.
I’m an engineer with decades of experience in wired and wireless communication systems, and I know that this is mostly fear-mongering based on junk science and anecdotes about individual cancer cases. Not to mention the crazy talk. Worse, to the extent that there IS a danger from cell radiation, it is clearly from too few cell towers, not too many.
The dangerous cell transmitter is the one next to your brain, not the one hundreds or thousands of yards away. According to the inverse square law, the difference in power levels at one inch versus 100 feet is a ratio of 1.44 million to one. And most people are considerably further than 100 feet, considering the property lines and the tower height. At 1000 feet the ratio is 144 million to one. Even if the cell tower is transmitting at 1000 times the power (it usually isn’t), the ratios are still tens of thousands to one.
So, why do people talk about cancer and cell phones? Because there is some evidence that holding a cell phone next to your brain can be harmful if the cell phone is transmitting at max power for a long time. Problem is that this only happens when you are far from a cell tower (for the same reason you have to YELL to be heard far away). And the most likely situation where that occurs a lot is if you have crappy cell reception at home. Like me.
Which is exactly the situation that these NIMBYs are working to maintain.
Update: It turns out that the desired site was not at the local YMCA, but on a residential street. Further, the tower was not the “small installation” that I was led to believe but a fairly huge one that would have actually overhung a residence. Apparently the local residents were using every argument they could to derail this thing. Doesn’t affect what I think about the cancer-ray stuff, but T-Mobile should be ashamed of themselves poisoning the waters like this.
In the end T-Mobile bagged it, and it will be more difficult for the next company that tries to put something up in a more reasonable manner.