Cell towers, small cells, repeaters and distributed antenna systems all use non-ionizing radio frequency (RF) microwave radiation to carry signals to and from wireless devices. The next generation of wireless, known as 5G, will require a dense network of hundreds of thousands of new antennas placed in close proximity to residential areas.
This raises many issues for local municipalities, including safety, security, privacy, property values and public health.
Despite the industry's claims of safety, the FDA, the International Agency for Research on Cancer, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, the European Union and the Royal Society of Canada have all urged caution and more research to understand the potential
health impacts of long-term exposure to this type of non-ionizing radiation. Concern is greatest for young children, pregnant women and people with compromised immune systems or implanted medical devices.
The 1996 Telecommunications Act prohibits local governments from denying permits for wireless antennas based on potential health impacts. However, the growing uncertainty over the safety of wireless radiation is causing many community leaders to use arguments based on aesthetics and real estate values to keep transmitters far away from schools and out of residential communities.
Wireless Devices: Wireless transmitters, portable phones, tablets and "smart" utility meters utilize the same microwave technology to transmit their signals. With any wireless device, proximity is the determining factor in assessing human health impacts.
The location of wireless routers in municipal offices should be clearly marked so that workers or members of the public who are or may become pregnant can avoid unnecessary exposure.
The deployment of wireless utility meters, also known as "smart meters," is also coming under increased scrutiny. While these meters have benefits, they bring with them a number of health, safety and security issues that have not yet been fully addressed. In many areas, demand is growing for an opt-out option for families with young children, women who are or may become pregnant, people with medical devices and other sensitive populations.
Hempstead, NY's Wireless Telecom Ordinance is one of the strictest in the nation and establishes a very high standard of proof for cellular service providers in establishing the need for new cell towers and also ensures that approved wireless communications equipment is located at sites that minimize negative impacts on local communities.
Rutland, VT's Ordinance Regulating Telecommunications Facilities seeks to protect the scenic, historic, environmental and natural resources of the town and provide standards and requirements for the operation, siting, design, appearance, construction, monitoring and removal of telecommunications facilities and towers.
Suffolk County, NY posts signs in County owned and operated buildings to alert visitors and employees that wireless technologies are in use.
The United Federation of Teachers has a dedicated page to inform its members about protecting themselves from exposure to wireless radiation in the workplace.
This 5th Generation (5G) Wireless Communications Fact Sheet from Grassroots Environmental Education covers the latest science about this emerging technology rollout and its potential human health impacts.
The BabySafe Project has information for pregnant women about wireless radiation and its impact on brain development.
California’s Governor Brown recently vetoed a law that would have limited the ability of city and county officials to set limits on where 5G cellular antennas could be placed.
Joel M. Moskowitz, Ph.D., Director of the Center for Family and Community Health at the University of California, Berkeley School of Public Health maintains a website with scientific and policy developments regarding electromagnetic radiation exposure from cell phones, cell towers, Wi-Fi, Smart Meters, and other wireless technology.
Americans for Responsible Technology has developed model language for towns and villages regarding the deployment of 5G small cells facilities. This new language conforms to the latest FCC rules. View a sample code.
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