The number of cell towers worldwide has had exponential growth since the 1990’s. In the U.S. large cell tower numbers have risen from about 900 in 1985 to over 308,334 cell sites in service in 2016. This is according to the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association (CTIA), established in 1984 just before the rollout of cell towers. The telecommunications industry places cell towers in cities but also leases rooftops on schools, churches, businesses and apartment buildings with antennas for one or more carriers. This co-location can create clusters of antennas with different frequencies in close proximity to where people live and work. These base stations emit a continuous stream of microwave radiofrequencies exposing residents to whole body exposures. More cell towers are being proposed throughout the US now on a statewide and federal level to accommodate proposed 5G high frequency telecommunications with cell towers about every 250 meters (~750 feet). See also 5G Telecommunications Science or 5G Mobile Communications or Cell Towers and City Ordinances or New Legislation Cell Towers
The rise in cell towers has been accompanied by scientific observations and reports of both human health and environmental decline in many countries.
Adverse Health Symptoms Near Cell Towers
The majority of published studies in different countries have shown a relationship between distance from base stations and a variety of health complaints. They have found that the closer to the towers people live there is an increase incidence of reported symptoms including those below. These are the same symptoms that people who have electrosensitivity experience.
- heart palpitations
- loss of appetite
- feeling of discomfort
- loss of libido
- poor concentration
- memory loss
- neuropsychiatric problems such as depression.
Blood Cell Abnormalities Found
In a recent study from India by Zothansiama et al (2017), researchers examined abnormalities in blood samples in people living at different distances from cell towers. They identified a significant increase blood cell damage in those living within 80 meters of a cell tower versus those living greater than 300 meters from a cell tower. They found 1) A significant increase in micronuclei, which are small remnants of DNA nuclear material appearing within blood cells and a sensitive indicator of genotoxicity and chromosomal abnormalities 2) An increase in lipid peroxidation indicating free radical formation and cell membrane damage 3) A reduction in levels of internally produced antioxidant capacity (glutathione, catalase and superoxide dismutase).
The author concluded “The present study demonstrated that staying near the mobile base stations and continuous use of mobile phones damage the DNA, and it may have an adverse effect in the long run. The persistence of DNA unrepaired damage leads to genomic instability which may lead to several health disorders including the induction of cancer.” As more base stations are deployed with higher density and with ubiquitous wireless devices at home it will be difficult to find control groups that have not been significantly exposed. The Antenna Search website allows people to identify registered cell towers in their area.
Blake Levitt, an award-winning medical and science journalist and former New York Times contributor is author of Cell Towers-Wireless Convenience? or Environmental Hazard? (2000) The book lists different chapters from different authors who contributed to a “Cell Towers Forum: State of the Science/State of the law” environmental conference December 2, 2000. Her book has valuable information on FCC safety guidelines, legal aspects of the Telecommunications Act, cell tower sitings and case law.
Conclusions From Research
A brief review of some of the research listed is below. Wildlife is even effected by cell towers.
Santini, in 2002 French study, reported an increase in fatigue at 300 meters from the cell towers and remaining symptoms at 200 meters. A follow up study by Santini in 2003 revealed that older subjects reported more symptoms and were more sensitive. Duration of exposure of 1 to 5 years did not have an effect on frequency of symptoms but after 5 years there was a significant increase in irritability reported.
Navarro in 2003 indicates much lower levels of exposure cause adverse health symptoms. The Navarro (2003) study on cell towers and “Microwave Syndrome” in Spain found that in those living near cell towers symptoms occurred at low power. He looked at distance from the towers and electromagnetic field exposures and concluded, ” Based on the data of this study the advice would be to strive for levels not higher than 0.02 V/m for the sum total, which is equal to a power density of 0.0001 µW/cm² or 1 µW/m², which is the indoor exposure value for GSM base stations proposed on empirical evidence by the Public Health Office of the Government of Salzburg in 2002.”
Wolf and Wolf , in 2004 investigated the rates of cancer versus distance from cell towers in small towns in Israel. He found the rate of cancer incidence was 129 cases per 10,000 persons per year in those living within 350 meters of a cell tower versus a rate of 16-31/10,000 in those living greater than 350 meters from the cell tower. Eger et al. in 2004 also found an increase in the development of new cancer cases within a 10 year period if residents lived within 400 meters of a cell tower. Their results revealed that within 5 years of operation of a transmitting station the relative risk of cancer development tripled in residents near the cell towers compared to residents outside the area.
Hutter 2006– In an Austrian study, Hutter in 2006 looked at cognitive performance, insomnia and well being in relation to power density of radiofrequency radiation versus reported symptoms in those in rural vs urban settings for more than a year. His study showed an increase in health effects with higher radiofrequency exposure. Important conclusions were that these complaints were independent of patients concern over health effects and that at levels well below current safety standards.
Shinjyo and Shinjyo in 2014- In an independent cell tower study from Japan, published in 2014, researchers Shinjyo and Shinjyo looked at health effects of residents living in a condominium complex from 1998-2009, noting health symptoms before placement of cell towers, during cell tower functioning and after removal of different antennas on the rooftops. They found a significant development of symptoms with placement of the cell towers and a significant reduction in symptoms after removal. The most frequent symptoms were fatigue, loss of motivation, headaches, eye pain, deteriorated eyesight, sleep disturbances, dizziness, jitteriness, rapid heat rate, muscle aches and nasal bleeding.
- Impact of radiofrequency radiation on DNA damage and antioxidants in peripheral blood lymphocytes of humans residing in the vicinity of mobile phone base stations. (2017) Zothansiama et al. Electromagn Biol Med. 2017 Aug 4:1-11. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28777669
- Survey of People Living at the Vicinity of Cellualr Base Transmitting Stations in an Urban and Rural Locality. (2016) Sivani Saravanamuttu. International Journal of Current Research react-text: 55 8(3):28186-28193. March https://www.researchgate.net/publication/301677652_SURVEY_OF_PEOPLE_LIVING_AT_THE_VICINITY_OF_CELLULAR_BASE_TRANSMITTING_STATIONS_IN_AN_URBAN_AND_A_RURAL_LOCALITY
- Effect of electromagnetic radiations from mobile phone base stations on general health and salivary function. (2016) Singh,K et al. J Int Soc Prev Community Dent. 2016 Jan-Feb;6(1):54-9. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=PMC4784065
- Health effects of living near mobile phone base transceiver station (BTS) antennae: a report from Isfahan, Iran.(2014) Shahbazi-Gahrouei D et al. Electromagn Biol Med. 2014 Sep;33(3):206-10 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23781985
- Significant Decrease of Clinical Symptoms after Mobile Phone Base Station Removal –An Intervention Study. (2014). Tetsuharu Shinjyo and Akemi Shinjyo. http://www.slt.co/Downloads/News/1086/Shinjyo%202014%20Significant%20Decrease%20of%20Clinical%20Symptoms%20after%20Mobile%20Phone%20Base%20Station%20Removal%20.pdf
- Health Implications of Electromagnetic Fields, Mechanisms of Action, and Research Needs. (2014) Sarika Singh and Neeru Kapoor Advances in Biology. Volume 2014 (2014). https://www.hindawi.com/archive/2014/198609/
- Subjective symptoms related to GSM radiation from mobile phone base stations: a cross-sectional study. (2013) Enrique A Navarro. BMJ Open 2013;3:e003836. http://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/3/12/e003836.full
- [Increased occurrence of nuclear cataract in the calf after erection of a mobile phone base station]. Hässig M1, Jud F, Spiess B. Schweiz Arch Tierheilkd. 2012 Feb;154(2):82-6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22287140
- Mortality by neoplasia and cellular telephone base stations in the Belo Horizonte municipality, Minas Gerais state, Brazil. (2011) A Dode et al. Science of The Total Environment. Volume 409, Issue 19 react-text: 71 , /react-text react-text: 72 1 September 2011 /react-text react-text: 73 , Pages 3649-3665 http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0048969711005754
- Wireless communication fields and non-specific symptoms of ill health: a literature review. (2011) Röösli M et al. Wien Med Wochenschr. 2011 May;161(9-10):240-50 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21638215
- Report on Cell Tower Radiation. Submitted to Secretary, DOT, Delhi, India.(2010) Kumar G. Electrical engineering Department. IIT Bombay, Powai, Mumai https://www.ee.iitb.ac.in/~mwave/GK-cell-tower-rad-report-DOT-Dec2010.pdf
- Epidemiological evidence for a health risk from mobile phone base stations. (2010) Khurana VG. Int J Occup Environ Health. 2010 Jul-Sep;16(3):263-7 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20662418
- Biological effects from exposure to electromagnetic radiation emitted by cell tower base stations and other antenna arrays. (2010) Page 374- Biological Effects at Low intensity) Blake Levitt, Henry Lai. Environmental Reviews, 2010, 18(NA): 369-395. http://www.nrcresearchpress.com/doi/full/10.1139/A10-018#.WYUlOHeZNo4
- Systematic review on the health effects of exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields from mobile phone base stations. (2010) Röösli M et al. Bull World Health Organ. 2010 Dec 1;88(12):887-896. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21124713
- Mobile phone base stations and adverse health effects: phase 1 of a population-based, cross-sectional study in Germany. (2009) Blettner M et al. Occup Environ Med. 2009 Feb;66(2):118-23. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19017702
- Neurobehavioral effects among inhabitants around mobile phone base stations. (2007) Abdel-Rassoul G. Neurotoxicology. 2007 Mar;28(2):434-40. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16962663
- Subjective symptoms, sleeping problems, and cognitive performance in subjects living near mobile phone base stations. (2007) H-P Hutter. Occup Environ Med 2006;63:307-313. http://oem.bmj.com/content/63/5/307.abstract?ijkey=9ae18f97484bfbf95e6f8c3eb92b69fe356ef640&keytype2=tf_ipsecsha
- Effect of short-wave (6-22 MHz) magnetic fields on sleep quality and melatonin cycle in humans: the Schwarzenburg shut-down study. (2006) Altpeter ES et al. Bioelectromagnetics. 2006 Feb;27(2):142-50. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16342198https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16342198
- Health risks from mobile phone base stations. (2006) D Coggon. Occup Environ Med. 2006 May; 63(5): 298–299. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2092494/
- Living dangerously in Indian cities: An RF radiation pollution perspective. (2006) Tanwar VS. IEEE Explore. Conference Paper: 2006 Proceedings of the 9th International Conference on ElectroMagnetic Interference and Compatibility (INCEMIC),. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/224118199_Living_dangerously_in_Indian_cities_An_RF_radiation_pollution_perspective or https://ieeexplore.ieee.org/document/5419750/?reload=true
- [Subjective symptoms reported by people living in the vicinity of cellular phone base stations: review]. (2004) Bortkiewicz A. Poland. Med Pr. 2004;55(4):345-51. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15620045
- The Influence of Being Physically Near to a Cell Phone Transmission Mast on the Incidence of Cancer. (2004) Egger H et al. January 2004. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/241473738_The_Influence_of_Being_Physically_Near_to_a_Cell_Phone_Transmission_Mast_on_the_Incidence_of_Cancer
- Increased Incidence of Cancer Near a Cell Phone Transmitter Station. (2004) Wolf and Wolf. Kaplan Medical Center, Israel. http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.527.1036&rep=rep1&type=pdf
- The Microwave Syndrome: A Preliminary Study in Spain. (2003) Navarro, EA et al. Researchgate. Electrobiology and Medicine. Dec. 2002 PDF. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Manuel_Portoles/publication/232051722_The_Microwave_Syndrome_A_Preliminary_Study_in_Spain/links/09e4150a8667f435ae000000/The-Microwave-Syndrome-A-Preliminary-Study-in-Spain.pdfhttps://www.researchgate.net/profile/Manuel_Portoles/publication/232051722_The_Microwave_Syndrome_A_Preliminary_Study_in_Spain/links/09e4150a8667f435ae000000/The-Microwave-Syndrome-A-Preliminary-Study-in-Spain.pdf
- The microwave Syndrome: A Preliminary Study in Spain. (2003) Navarro, EA et al. Electrobiology and Medicine. Dec. 2002. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1081/JBC-120024625https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1081/JBC-120024625
- [Symptoms experienced by people in vicinity of base stations: II/ Incidences of age, duration of exposure, location of subjects in relation to the antennas and other electromagnetic factors]. (2003) Santini R. Pathol Biol (Paris). 2003 Sep;51(7):412-5. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12948762
- [Investigation on the health of people living near mobile telephone relay stations: I/Incidence according to distance and sex]. (2002) Santini R. Pathol Biol (Paris). 2002 Jul;50(6):369-73. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12168254
- Radiofrequency (RF) sickness in the Lilienfeld Study: an effect of modulated microwaves? (1998) Johnson Liakouris AG. Arch Environ Health. 1998 May-Jun;53(3):236-8. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=PMID%3A+9814721
- Motor and psychological functions of school children living in the area of the Skrunda Radio Location Station in Latvia. (1996). Kolodynski AA, Kolodynska VV, Sci Total Environ 180(1):87-93, 1996. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/004896979504924X
- Microwave radiation absorption: behavioral effects. (1991) D’Andrea JA. Health 1991 Jul;61(1):29-40. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2061046
- Trends in nonionizing electomagnetic radiation bioeffects research and related occupational health aspects. (1977) Dodge CH, Glaser ZR. J Microw Power. 1977 Dec;12(4):319-4 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/249341
- Increased incidence of cancer near a cell-phone transmitter station. Wolf, R., Wolf, D. International Journal of Cancer Prevention Vol 1, Number 2, April 2004. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/228490892_Increased_incidence_of_cancer_near_a_cell-phone_transmitter_station
- Motor and psychological functions of school children living in the area of the Skrunda Radio Location Station in Latvia. (1996) Kolodynski AA and Kolodynski VV. Sci Total Environ. 1996 Feb 2;180(1):87-93. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8717320
Animal, Insect and Wildlife Effects of Cell Towers
- Electromagnetic Radiation of Mobile Communication Antennas Affects the Abundance and composition of Wild Pollinators. Lazaro,A. Journal of Insect Conservation react-text: 61 20(2):1-10, April 2016. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/301647025_Electromagnetic_radiation_of_mobile_telecommunication_antennas_affects_the_abundance_and_composition_of_wild_pollinators
- Impacts of radio-frequency electromagnetic field (RF-EMF) from cell phone towers and wireless devices on biosystem and ecosystem—A review. (2013) Sivani Saravanamuttu. January 9. 2013. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/258521207_Impacts_of_radio-frequency_electromagnetic_field_RF-EMF_from_cell_phone_towers_and_wireless_devices_on_biosystem_and_ecosystem-A_review
- Report on Possible Impacts of Communication Cell Towers on Wildlife Including Birds and Bees. (2010) The Ministry of Environment and Forest. http://www.moef.nic.in/downloads/publicinformation/final_mobile_towers_report.pdf or http://www.indiaenvironmentportal.org.in/content/341385/report-on-possible-impacts-of-communication-towers-on-wildlife-including-birds-and-bees/
- Mobile phone mast effects on common frog (Rana temporaria) tadpoles: the city turned into a laboratory. (2010) Balmori A. Electromagn Biol Med. 2010 Jun;29(1-2):31-5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20560769
- Electromagnetic pollution from phone masts. Effects on wildlife. (2009) Balmori A. Pathophysiology. 2009 Aug;16(2-3):191-9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19264463
- The Skrunda Radio Location Case https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/0048969795049134