Cell Tower Health Effects

The number of cell towers in the U.S. has risen from about 900 in 1985 to over 308,334 cell sites in service in 2016, according to CTIA. 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.

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 headache, lack of concentration, memory loss, irritability, depression, insomnia, fatigue, loss of libido, nausea, lack of appetite. These are the same symptoms people who have electrosensitivity report.

In the latest 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.

A brief review of the conclusions from some of the research listed is below:

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.

In 2004, Wolf  and Wolf, 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.

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.

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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