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Wireless Technology

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 new generation of wireless, known as 5G, requires 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

Cell Phone towers

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, real estate values and liability insurance 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.

The city of Ithaca, New York, had adopted an extensive zoning code that successfully balances the rights of wireless companies with the rights of the community.

See the code for Langley, Washington

See the code for Fishkill, New York 


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.

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.

BabySafe Project has information for pregnant women about wireless radiation and its impact on brain development. 


[1] Sage, C., & Burgio, E. (2017). Electromagnetic Fields, Pulsed Radiofrequency Radiation, and Epigenetics: How Wireless Technologies May Affect Childhood Development. Child Development, 89(1), 129-136. 

[2] Arumugam, D. D., et al. (2008). Impacts of RF radiation on the human body in a passive wireless healthcare environment. 2008 Second International Conference on Pervasive Computing Technologies for Healthcare, 1-2

[3] Gandhi, O. P., et al. (2011). Exposure Limits: The underestimation of absorbed cell phone radiation, especially in children. Electromagnetic Biology and Medicine, 31(1), 34-51. 

[4] Gilroy, Angele A. (1996). The Telecommunications act of 1996 (P.L. 104-104). [Washington, D.C.] :Congressional Research Service, Library of Congress, Sec. 704 Subsection II,ii.

[5] Herbert, M. R. (2012). Findings in Autism (ASD) Consistent with Electromagnetic Fields (EMF) and Radiofrequency Radiation (RFR) (Rep.). Santa Barbara, CA: Bioinitiative Working Group.

[6] Dasdag, S., et al. (2015). Effects of 2.4 GHz radiofrequency radiation emitted by Wi-Fi equipment on microRNA expression in brain tissue. Journal of Radiation Biology, 91(7), 555-561.

[7] Norman, J. (2016). Taking the Sting out of the Stingray: The Dangers of Cell-Site Simulator Use and the Role of the Federal Communications Commission in Protecting Privacy & Security. The Federal Communications Law Journal, 68(139), 141-152.

[8] Li, D., et al. (2017). Exposure to Magnetic Field Non-Ionizing Radiation and the Risk of Miscarriage: A Prospective Cohort Study. Scientific Reports, 7(1).

[9] Krishnamurti, T., et al. (2012). Preparing for smart grid technologies: A behavioral decision research approach to understanding consumer expectations about smart meters. Energy Policy, 41, 790-797.

[10] Hess, D. J., & Coley, J. S. (2012). Wireless smart meters and public acceptance: The environment, limited choices, and precautionary politics. Public Understanding of Science, 23(6), 688-702. 

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