New Cell Tower Near Palo Verde Elementary School

AT&T has asked the City of Palo Alto to approve plans to construct a cellular telecommunications facility (antennas and transmitters) on the Eichler Swim and Tennis Club property.

Based on the attached photo, the 75′ tall faux-tree antenna will be approximately 600 feet from the school.   The facility will contain transmitters and equipment to power the multiple antennas (9 total) built to look like a tree.

There are concerns that exposure to radio frequency (RF) fields might harm children.  There have been no studies of the effects of long-term exposure to cell towers – especially studies with children.

The environmental impact report does not show a school to the northwest area.  It’s clear from the photo that the school is less than 600′ from the Palo Verde Elementary School.

The Palo Verde Elementary school enrollment is approximately 391 with 24 fully credentialed teachers.  What if there are long-term health consequences as a  result of being exposed to additional radiation from a new cell tower?

Cell towers are necessary to provide additional coverage and higher capacity to meet demands.  Because cell phone companies lease the land, the leases provide income for the entity hoping to get additional money.

Some communities looked at putting cell towers in public safety buildings – such as fire stations.  The International Firefighters Association is looking to fund a study into the long-term effects of radiation on their members.   The association strongly opposes “the use of fire stations as base stations for towers and/or antennas for the conduction of cell phone transmissions until a study with the highest scientific merit and integrity on health effects of exposure to low-intensity RF/MW radiation is conducted and it is proven that such sitings are not hazardous to the health of our members”.

A pilot study was conducted in 2004 of six California fire fighters working and sleeping in stations with towers.  The study, conducted by Gunnar Heuser, M.D., PhD. of Agoura Hills, CA, focused on neurological symptoms of six fire fighters who had been working for up to five years in stations with cell towers. Those symptoms included slowed reaction time, lack of focus, lack of impulse control, severe headaches, anesthesia-like sleep, sleep deprivation, depression, and tremors.  Dr. Heuser used functional brain scans – SPECT scans – to assess any changes in the brains of the six fire fighters as compared to healthy brains of men of the same age.  Computerized psychological testing known as TOVA was used to study reaction time, impulse control, and attention span.  The SPECT scans revealed a pattern of abnormal change which was concentrated over a wider area than would normally be seen in brains of individuals exposed to toxic inhalation, as might be expected from fighting fires.  Dr. Heuser concluded the only plausible explanation at this time would be RF radiation exposure.  Additionally, the TOVA testing revealed among the six fire fighters delayed reaction time, lack of impulse control, and difficulty in maintaining mental focus.

There are many questions and concerns about exposure to RF radiation.   The U. S. Environmental Protection Agency stated in a July 16, 2002, letter, “Federal health and safety agencies have not yet developed policies concerning possible risk from long-term, non-thermal exposures. The FCC’s exposure guideline is considered protective of effects arising from a thermal mechanism (RF radiation from cell towers is non-thermal) but not from all possible mechanisms. Therefore, the generalization by many that the guidelines protecting human beings from harm by any or all mechanisms is not justified”.

What You Can Do
Write your City of Palo Alto City Council members and be sure to copy the planner, Russ Reich, who is handling the proposal.   Russ is at russ.reich@cityofpaloalto.org, mailing address is 250 Hamilton Avenue, Palo Alto, 94301.   Be sure to put all communications in writing.

The lease is being negotiated with the Eichler Swim and Tennis Club.  The Board of Governors has decided to proceed with the lease.   In our opinion, the Board is putting money before potential health risks to the nearby children at schools (not to mention their own membership). In addition, residents are outraged that the neighborhood club would trade a very slight increase in dues (a good ideas) or negatively impacting an entire neighborhood. theboard@eichlerclub.com

Sources

International Association of Fire Fighters
http://www.iaff.org/hs/Facts/CellTowerFinal.asp
This document also has a lot of links to research that has been done.

Enrollment data: http://www.pausd.org/community/board/downloads/brd_packet/Enrollment_updated.pdf

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