Updated 3/14/19

Scientific Literature

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, work, study and play. 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).

The rise in cell towers has been accompanied by scientific observations and reports of both human health and environmental decline in many countries.

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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 physical symptoms including those below. These are the same symptoms that  people who have microwave illness (AKA electrosensitivity) experience and also similar to what Cuban and Chinese Diplomats reported in unusual “attacks in 2017. See  (Cuban Diplomats Likely Hit by Microwave Weapons -New York Times  ) 

  • headaches
  • insomnia
  • dizziness
  • irritability
  • fatigue
  • heart palpitations
  • nausea
  • 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.

School Cell Towers Study in 2018 Study Shows Cognitive Decline in Students

A recent case controlled 2 year scientific study examining the neurologic effects of children, aged 13-16,  in schools with nearby cell towers revealed significant decline in cognitive scores when the radiation from the cell tower was higher but still at non-thermal levels.  Students in School 1 (124 students) were exposed to cell tower radiation  at 2.010 µW/cm2 at a frequency of 925 MHz for 6 hr a day, 5 days a week. Students at School 2 were exposed to cell tower radiation  at 10.021 µW/cm2 at a frequency of 925 MHz for 6 hr a day, 5 days a week.  Both groups had exposure for 2 years. Cognitive functions tasks were measured by the Cambridge Neuropsychological Test Automated Battery (CANTAB). Participants were excluded who had any confounding factors , i.e. those with any pre existing illness, on any medications, with history of anxiety or attention problems, frequent use of cordless or cell phones, use of Wi-Fi routers in their bedrooms, or those who lived near high transmission lines or cell towers.

The researchers used the Cambridge Neuropsychological Test Automated Battery (CANTAB) to measure cognitive functions tasks. They found “a significant impairment in Motor Screening Task (MOT; p = .03) and Spatial Working Memory (SWM) task (p = .04) was identified among the group of students who were exposed to high RF-EMF produced by MPBSTs. High exposure to RF-EMF produced by MPBSTs was associated with delayed fine and gross motor skills, spatial working memory, and attention in school adolescents compared to students who were exposed to low RF-EMF. Most notable is that the current FCC safety “guidelines” for 30 minute exposure are 1000 µW/cm2..  This FCC limit is 100 times more RF than the students experienced in the highest exposure group that showed cognitive decline and with non-thermal effects. Study here-“Mobile Phone Base Station Tower Settings Adjacent to School Buildings: Impact on Students’ Cognitive Health. Mao SA et al. American Journal of Men’s Health. December 7, 2018. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/1557988318816914

Cancer and Cell Towers

Wolf  and Wolf (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 (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.

Dode (2011) performed a 10 year study (1996-2006) examining the distance from cell towers and cancer clusters. He and his colleagues found a highly significant increase in cancers in those living within 500 meters of the cell tower. They noted “The largest density power was 40.78   μW/cm2, and the smallest was 0.04   μW/cm2.”  The current guidelines are about 1000 μW/cm2.  The authors conclude “Measured values stay below Brazilian Federal Law limits that are the same of ICNIRP.  The human exposure pattern guidelines are inadequate. More restrictive limits must be adopted urgently.”

Ghandi (2015) used comet assays to determine genetic damage in those living in the vicinity of mobile base stations. He found that genetic damage was elevated in the sample group. He concluded, “analysis further revealed daily mobile phone usage, location of residence and power density as significant predictors of genetic damage… which…may lead to cancer.”

Cell Towers and Metabolic Disorders

Several studies on cell towers show metabolic changes and dysfunction in persons exposed to cell tower radiation. Meo (2015)  looked at the  association of exposure to radio frequency radiation from mobile phone base stations with glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c) and occurrence of type 2 diabetes mellitus in 2 different schools. The cell towers were about 200 feet from each school. One school had about 10 times higher radiation levels. They found a significant increase in  elevated levels of HbA1c and risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus in the school with higher RF levels.  Eskander (2012)  looked at long term exposure to RF from cell towers over a 6 year period. They showed a reduction in volunteers’ plasma ACTH, serum cortisol levels and a decrease in the release of the thyroid hormones especially T3. In addition prolactin in young females (14–22 years), and testosterone levels [in males] significantly dropped.

Biological Effects from Exposure to Electromagnetic Radiation From Cell Towers

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. She also co-authored Biological effects from exposure to electromagnetic radiation emitted by cell tower base stations and other antenna arrays. (2010) Environmental Reviews, 2010, 18(NA): 369-395. Biological effects from exposure to electromagnetic radiation emitted by cell tower base stations and other antenna arrays

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.”

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.


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