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Thursday, January 21, 2010

More cell tower madness

The ugliness and health concerns surrounding cell phone antennas don't faze most people, until they find out about them first-hand. So it goes at the Wilshire Market on the corner of Alameda and Fremont Streets in Portland, just up the road from here.

Comments (25)

That picture is far uglier than the one the Clearwire rep. showed at the meeting last week.

The one Clearwire showed up DOES NOT have the thee flat antennas jutting out at the top, instead, just a little area of increased diameter and it was painted BROWN, just like the pole, not white.

If you are not looking for it, you probably won't even notice.

BTW, one of the European agencies just released a massive study of most residents of three countries (Denmark, Finland, Norway) which found NO increase in brain cancers before and after the cell phone introduction:

No change in incidence trends were observed from 1998 to 2003, the time when possible associations between mobile phone use and cancer risk would be informative about an induction period of 5–10 years.
from: JNCI Journal of the National Cancer Institute 2009 101(24):1721-1724; doi:10.1093/jnci/djp415, Time Trends in Brain Tumor Incidence Rates in Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden, 1974–2003


I guess it's ugly if you stand and stare at it, but the one a few blocks from my house in Sellwood blends into the rest of the poles and you don't really notice it. Clear seems like a nice alternative to Comcast, but you probably need to put up with the towers if you are going to have the competition.

I "love" how the website linked says "a for profit corporation" wants to put this tower up. Since when did being a "for profit corporation" become a crime around here in Portland? Without them the local goverments would have no money to shovel over to the public employee unions for high pay and big benefits!

I guess many in Portland just want little non-profits.

Hey Jack--

Own a cell phone?

Better yet, own a handy-dandy super cell phone... I dunno, an iPhone, perhaps?

Yeah, those towers make them work.

That's why they are there.

Yes, they're ugly, but they are a necessary evil as long as people make a reason for them to be there.

Thanks for the snark. Come on back when you have something else to add to the discussion besides a bad attitude.

Westside, I can't speak for others but I know that I draw the distinction when speaking about locating utility infrastructure because the theory of letting utilities jam their infrastructure wherever they want -- which is what the Telecom Reform Act gives the wireless bastards -- is that they'll provide a public good under a regulated price structure that ensures fair access ...

In other words, when you take from the commons, you have to accept public utility style regulation.

But thanks to the "Reagan Revolution" and a bought-and-sold Congress, we've got the worst of both worlds -- for profit, totally unregulated utilities with no service obligation but with quasi-public-utility powers.

The photo also highlights the helter-skelter array of overhead wires that are a feature of our third- or fourth-world infrastructure.

I am not surprised by the European findings. Some time ago, I ran across some info filtering from the study that suggested this outcome.

FYI, and it's been years since I referenced this info, but the frequencies to which human organisms seem to be most sensitive lie not in the microwave (except for massive doses from megawatt sources with simply cook you)is around 100MHz, right smack in the middle of the FM band. (88 to 108 MHz).

Driving past or living near the set of towers on W Burnside or SW hills will give you a pretty good dose, ref. the dosages from cell towers.

But not enough to cook you.

Actually, the European study cited above has two profound flaws and has been debunked: http://www.microwavenews.com/spin.html

This is really an issue of pollution and zoning. These towers are sited with no land use review, no formal opportunity for public input and no study of the application information by the City.

We all know there are possible health problems with cell technology. People can choose if, and how much, they want to use a cell phone to manage their potential exposure. We can't do that with these towers, they emit constant RF radiation. Forcing them into neighborhoods, 15 feet from people's homes without an opportunity to research or challenge the information takes away our right and ability to manage the environment we live in.

So the referenced study has been debunked and what about the German, Israel and Austria studies that show a 300-400% increase in chances of cancer? Guess there is a reason to fight these ugly towers after all (if not for the noise).

All over the world communities are waking up to the dangers of living under cell towers, including concentrated clusters of cancer around cell towers.

Jack is right, most of us don't think about the danger until one goes up near our house or our child's school.

Full Signal, a new documentary about the wireless industry and health, debuts at the Hollywood Theater in Portland on Sunday February 21 at 4pm. I urge everyone interested in this issue, skeptics included, to attend this film. Director Talal Jabari will be speaking afterwards.


You are right about the image. The tower shown on the site is on Fremont and 26th, it was constructed with little notice to the community during the summer and is less than 15 feet in front of someone's home. The associated equipment is housed in and around the Fremont Methodist Church who are leasing the space to the carrier. Some of the louder equipment is 5 feet from the neighbors bedroom. This is happening all over the city—the tower designs are different but the issues of zoning, due process and community involvement are the same.

There are a lot of health studies out there on both sides. Unfortunately the Federal government is not participating in the debate in any meaningful way. The current standards for RF exposure are over 15 years old and are based on measuring effects on the skin, not at a cellular level (I'll skip the obvious pun opportunity here).

Our City unanimously passed a resolution expressing concern over the health effects of these towers and requesting congress do further studies, yet seems to have no enforceable plan in place to manage the location and process.


The study you mention is about cell phones, not cell or wi-max towers. You're confusing the issue. Besides, the color of the antennas is not the problem.

This isn't about land use (your pet cause) or social engineering; it's a health issue. The people who live there have every right to be worried, as cancer clusters have shown up near these towers in other cities, and no Scandinavian report is going to change that.

Ric: Actually, the European study cited above has two profound flaws and has been debunked: http://www.microwavenews.com/spin.html
JK: If you really thought that was a debunking, you better re-read it - that is NOT a debunking. It is just a reminder of the stated limits of the study (stated by the authors of the study) followed by a lot of unsubstantiated paranoid speculations that was made to read as if it were a continuation of the author’s statements.

Monroe: The study you mention is about cell phones, not cell or wi-max towers. You're confusing the issue.
JK: Confusing what? I asked questions and got answers: wimax is a lot lower power. Of course lower power implies lower danger (if there was any in the first place.)

BTW, we have been using many times those power levels at those frequencies in radar for over 60 years with no harm being found (except direct heating as in a microwave oven.) That is a damn good indicator of no danger.

Monroe: This isn't about land use (your pet cause) or social engineering;
JK: Since this is the first time we have interacted on the blogs, how do you happen to know that? Or is Monroe just a name you picked for this subject?

Monroe: it's a health issue. The people who live there have every right to be worried, as cancer clusters have shown up near these towers in other cities,
JK: Please show us the credible proof, not just speculation and reports of feeling nervous. Otherwise you are just cowering in the dark when there is thunder caused by the angry gods that you didn’t properly sacrifice to.

Reminds me of that city that got a large number of complaints about the water the day they initiated fluoridation. Just one little problem, the equipment failed and there was no change in the water.

Psychosomatic. (That is why they always do double blind studies in the medical field. )

The video that was (perhaps still is) on the linked web site contains a perfect example of a deluded psychosomatic where the host (allegedly a Phd) tells of a person showing symptoms in a hotel room, then measuring the emf and finding a low radiation spot to move to and the symptoms went away. Absolutely laughable to anyone than knows just a little about emf and radio waves.


JK: "we have been using many times those power levels at those frequencies in radar for over 60 years with no harm being found"

Obviously these uses do not include 24/7 exposure from birth, which is what will happen as we build out this service across the country. Children have been shown to be more sensitive to EMF radiation as their developing bodies don't attenuate the signal as much as an adult body. The studies to be concerned about are the ones that are going on in our cities every day. We do not know the impacts of a lifetime of exposure to RF radiation at any level. Until we do, a rational and responsible approach to using this technology would seem to outweigh the benefits of being able to watch YouTube videos on the bus.

JK, Please read this interesting perspective from 2004 from the Firefighters union on this issue. I assume we won't label them as ignorant pagans?


"RESOLVED, That the IAFF oppose the use of fire stations as base stations for antennas and towers for the conduction of cell phone transmissions until such installations are proven not to be hazardous to the health of our members."

"Several doctors living in Southern Germany city of Naila conducted a study...[and] examined whether population living close to two transmitter antennas installed in 1993 and 1997 in Naila had increased risk of cancer.

Data was gathered from nearly 1,000 patients who had been residing at the same address during the entire observation period of 10 years. The social differences are small, with no ethnic diversity. There is no heavy industry, and in the inner area there are neither high voltage cable nor electric trains.

What they found is quite telling: the proportion of newly developed cancer cases was three times higher among those who had lived during the past ten years at a distance of up to 400m (about 1300 feet) from the cellular transmitter site, compared to those living further away. They also revealed that the patients fell ill on average 8 years earlier."

"Another study, this one from Israel's Tel Aviv University, examined 622 people living near a cell-phone transmitter station for 3-7 years who were patients in one clinic in Netanya and compared them against 1,222 control patients from a nearby clinic. Participants were very closely matched in environment, workplace and occupational characteristics. The people in the first group live within a half circle of 350m (1148 feet) radius from the transmitter, which came into service in July 1996.

The results were startling. Out of the 622 exposed patients, 8 cases of different kinds of cancer were diagnosed in a period of just one year (July 1997 to June 1998): 3 cases of breast cancer, one of ovarian cancer, lung cancer, Hodgkin's disease (cancer of the lymphatic system), osteoid osteoma (bone tumour) and kidney cancer. This compares with 2 per 1 222 in the matched controls of the nearby clinic. The relative risk of cancer was 4.15 for those living near the cell-phone transmitter compared with the entire population of Israel. "


Dangers of emf radiation


The reason that I knew about your pet project is that I clicked onto your name after the post and was directed to portlandfacts.com

And since you are accusing me of using a false name, I'll accuse you of jumping to conclusions that suit your bias.

This is not just about health and how the pole looks. This is also about how our city functions. A wireless expansion plan/strategy could have allowed expansion as well satisfied neighborhoods. Portland does not tax the wireless companies equitably, forgoing $13,000,000 annually. 800 additional sites are forcasted, mostly in residential neighborhoods in the next 4 years. There is a good chance critics will have one outside of their front window soon. The city does not regulate or verify any of what the wireless companies do with the right-of-way, they rely on their properiety information and take their word for it.

When you start adding it all up, it sure feels like the wild west. Aren't residents owed some kind of dillegence, especially with a lightening rod issue like this.

The city also has the same concerns about health. PPS has the same concerns about health, the fire fighters have the same concern about health, neither will allow them on their property, but folks who sleep under this stuff every night are forced to be the experiment. The fact that we have to debate this is enough evidence for me.

PPS has the same concerns about health

No, it doesn't. There are cell antennas all over Beaumont school, and at least one on Grant High School.

I think that all of this can be solved if you just put this tower and utility box in YOUR backyard, instead of mine Then we'll see how concerned you are with the health, property value and eyesore issues. I don't know if you have children or not, but I don't want my children sleeping, eating, breathing under this thing everyday. Oh, and if I want to sell my house???? Good Luck getting back what I've put into it.

Yes, you are correct these are on schools, although after allowing these, thought was applied and they now also have the same health concerns. Not allowing any more. Because they own their property they have that right.

It shouldn't be a surprise that the city and city entities act without proper planning and thought. As I mentioned health is only one issue here.

Wireless expansion crosses over mulitiple city bureaus and they are not working off the same page, with almost no accountability. It is like a puzzle were the pieces don't fit together, and the tax payers are forced to buy this broken picture.

Wireless expansion in residential neighborhoods should require more thought.

Wireless is not going away, but if it is worth doing, it is worth doing right.

Appropriate planning should not be that difficult and currently the city is doing no planning. When private companies realize they have a fast growing revenue source they usually try to maximize this, which is what the wirless companies are doing in our right-of-way, the city on the other hand is once again missing the boat.

I'm a fan of smaller government and appropriate taxation for essential services. It seems appropriate that when the city has an entity utilizing the right-of-way that equitable taxation should be collected from them first and our small businesses and individual tax payers second.

That revenue stream will double over the next 4 years.

Focusing just on health or any one aspect of an issue is a mistake. Until you can see the multiple ripples of any issue productivity will not occur.

If health was the only aspect you could point at in this issue as a concern, then few would pay attention. This isn't the case here, there are issues here that both party lines should be concerned about.

This discussion plays into the cell companies hands. They know that if they put it in your yard, I'm not going to complain because it means I'm covered. But the City says we're looking at hundreds of these, so sooner or later it'll be in everyone's back yard. Respect PDX is trying to bring neighbors together to address this as a community and not fight amongst ourselves.

I say "Not in ANY backyard"!

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