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The new, but unknown, threat to our health

Every one of us, and most of our children, from pre-teens on up, has a cell phone, which we use for far more than just making telephone calls. They're ubiquitous. Rarely do we think about potential dangers that can occur from the technology of the devices themselves, as our society has become a digital one, and we are reliant on both the machinery, and the knowledge and data from which it gives us access.

Scientists who study the telecommunications industry are increasingly letting us know that the computers in our pockets can pose inherent dangers – notably from the radiofrequency (RF) radiation waves emitted from cell towers, antennas and our wireless devices themselves. In a remarkable twist, scientist after scientist in our cover story this month referred to the radiation waves as “the new tobacco” in terms of a threat to public health.

We all understand that tobacco is a public health threat, whether we choose to light a cigarette or not. In a world where landlines are going the way of eight-track tapes, it's pretty scary to think that not only our cell phones, but the towers where the radiofrequencie radiation is emitted to them and all other cellular devices, could be inadvertently harming every one of us.

And we are often unaware of their proximity, especially to our children.

According to, as of this February, there are 226 towers and 306 antennas within a three-mile radius of Birmingham. The presence of these towers is causing concern in Detroit and downriver communities like Wyandotte, where cell companies since the mid-2010s have contracted with school districts, which allow them to install cell towers on their properties in exchange for several thousands of dollars per month per building to bolster school budgets. Of notable interest is that there is a cell tower on the property of Bloomfield Hills High School – exposing students on a constant basis in exchange for revenue. While the FCC has not done any health and welfare studies on radiofrequency exposure since the mid-1990s, most other nations have – with most European and Middle Eastern countries setting safety levels and RF limits tens of times lower than in the United States.

And according to the FCC, the number will continue to grow exponentially as the 5G network will require the expansion of 800,000 new wireless cells to enable seamless service as we continue to travel with our mobile devices. There have been no scientific or health studies on the potential dangers of 5G exposure.

We're not tin foil hat folk. We rely on our cell phones just as much as everyone else. But more research and study must be done on the potential dangers of radiofrequency radiation of not only cell phones, but of cell towers. The placement of cell towers must be studied, and they should not be a financial bargaining tool. Public places, whether on or atop schools, or in and around public spaces, cannot be appropriate locations for the placement of potentially toxic radiation devices. Further, the self-imposed moratorium on study and investigation by a federal agency, the Federal Communications Commission, must be lifted and scientists must be permitted to study the effects of radiofrequency emissions.

Perhaps it'll all go up in smoke. Or maybe it really will be the “new tobacco.” Either way, the public is owed an assessment of the new potential health threat.


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