PACE calls on governments to ‘take all reasonable measures’ to reduce exposure to electromagnetic fields

27/05/11  – The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), meeting in Kyiv at Standing Committee level, today called on European governments to “take all reasonable measures” to reduce exposure to electromagnetic fields, especially to radio frequencies from mobile phones, “and particularly the exposure to children and young people who seem to be most at risk from head tumours”.

According to parliamentarians, governments should “for children in general, and particularly in schools and classrooms, give preference to wired Internet connections, and strictly regulate the use of mobile phones by schoolchildren on school premises”, and put in place information and awareness-raising campaigns on the risks of potentially harmful long-term biological effects on the environment and on human health, especially “targeting children, teenagers and young people of reproductive age”.

Following the proposals of the rapporteur (Jean Huss, Luxembourg, SOC), the Assembly called on governments to provide information on potential health risks of DECT-type wireless telephones, baby monitors and other domestic appliances which emit continuous pulse waves, if all electrical equipment is left permanently on standby. They should, instead, recommend “the use of wired, fixed telephones at home or, failing that, models which do not permanently emit pulse waves”.

Governments should “reconsider the scientific basis for the present electromagnetic fields exposure standards set by the International Commission on Non-Ionising Radiation Protection, “which have serious limitations” and apply as low as reasonably achievable (ALARA) principles.

The adopted resolution underlines the fact that “the precautionary principle should be applicable when scientific evaluation does not allow the risk to be determined with sufficient certainty” and stresses that “the issue of independence and credibility of scientific expertise is crucial” to achieve a transparent and balanced assessment of potential negative impacts on the environment and human health.

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Scientist Dr. Devra Davis Discusses Cell Phone Use

“create a false impression of total safety and when the scientific evidence builds up, challenge the science and plant doubt”

Ninety-one percent of Americans own a cell phone and 5 billion people worldwide use a cell phone.   Dr. Davis discusses the “truth about cell phone radiation, what the industry has done to hide it, a how to protect your family” in her new book Disconnect.

The Environmental Health Trust has published an interview with Dr. Davis.  Click to read the PDF version of this document.

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Distributed Antenna Systems In Palo Alto?

A distributed antenna system consists of multiple DAS nodes, typically mounted on utility poles consisting of an antenna and transmitter connected to a common source that will help deliver wireless service within a geographical area or in a structure.

The concept behind DAS is that the antennas are smaller and less obtrusive than a cell tower, the DAS nodes work on a lower radiated power than a typical cell telecommunications facility, and can be useful in situations where zoning challenges, terrain problems or coverage issues exist.

AT&T is proposing a pilot program with nine DAS systems and will later expand this to 80 Palo Alto utility poles.   The City plans to approve the request from AT&T.  Once the city approves the request, it would be difficult for the city to deny future permits from other carriers.   So, we end up with X number of carriers with X number of poles.    Some can co-locate.

What Questions Should Residents Be Asking?
1.  Maintenance requirements state that 24/7 access be given to the equipment located on the poles.   What will happen in a residential neighborhood if there is an outage?

2.  Who certifies that the radiation from each of the DAS nodes is within specifications?   A third-party company hired by the city and not funded by the wireless industry should be making random checks of radiated power on each node.    Nodes that are not within specifications will require payment of a fine by the wireless company.

3.  What happens when the city wants to move utilities underground?   Since the poles are housing a wireless infrastructure, will the carriers be required to move their equipment and supply lines underground?   Who pays that expense?

4.  Who is getting the money from the installation of these DAS nodes on the Palo Alto Utilities poles?   The money should go back to the citizens who pay the utility bills to lower their utility bills.  Our guess is that the money will help the city’s general fund which is wrong.

Who is the DAS Forum?
The DAS forum is a membership section of PCIA, a non-profit national trade association representing the wireless infrastructure industry.  This group works with cities to create model documentation to speed up the process of approvals.     It is funded by the wireless industry and the mission is to help wireless carriers use DAS.

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Too Close for Comfort

In 2008, Dr. Gautam Khurana, a Mayo Clinic-trained neurosurgeon with an advanced neurosurgery fellowship in cerebral vascular and tumor microsurgery, concluded:

“There is currently enough evidence and technology available to warrant industry and governments alike in taking immediate steps to reduce exposure of consumers to mobile phone-related electromagnetic radiation and to make consumers clearly aware of potential dangers and how to use this technology sensibly and safely.”

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Killer App: A Berkeley Researcher Weighs in on Safety

Joel Moskowitz, Ph.D., a Berkeley researcher, directs a research center in the School of Public Health. He participated in a meta-analysis led by Seung-Kwon Myung, an epidemiologist from South Korea. The researchers looked at 23 recent studies of cell phones and their potential link to tumor risk. What Moskowitz had to say might change your mind about your iPhone or Blackberry in his article in the Winter 2010 edition of California Magazine.

While the article focuses on cell phone use and potential health problems, we’re still concerned that radiation from cell towers could be a potential issue with children. Our advice is to locate cell towers away from schools. It’s the same advice being given by experts in countries other than the US, where the cell phone industry still claims everything is safe.

“Another important piece of advice—and by my count about a dozen nations have already issued precautionary health warnings—focuses on children. The concern is that their developing brains are much more vulnerable, and they’re going to have much longer durations of exposure if they start using phones as children. Because it generally takes decades to see brain tumors, and their exposures are starting at a much younger age, they may start having tumors as middle-aged adults. You want to reduce use among children as much as you can.”

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AT&T and Trillium Withdraw Permit Application

We were notified by Russ Reich at the City of Palo Alto that AT&T and Trillium have withdrawn the application for a cell tower at the Eichler Swim and Tennis Club.

We’re very happy that the right decision was made.

We’ll now work with the City of Palo Alto to come up with suggestions to implement ordinances that will protect neighborhoods and homeowners and schools from having cell towers in their backyards.

Tonight’s protest was highly successful; we were able to reach a group of supporters before the 7:15 PM event – and those who arrived were ready to help support the cause. Our thanks to the families who have supported our endeavor.

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Gathering To Show Opposition to Cell Tower at Eichler Club

Area residents and Palo Verde school parents plan to show up outside tonight’s Eichler Swim and Tennis Club board Meeting at 7:15 PM Thursday November 18th, to show our opposition to the proposed 75-foot cell tower that they want to erect, less than 600 feet from the elementary school.

Neighbors are concerned on a number of fronts:

  • It’s ugly
  • It may not be safe, especially for children
  • It will lower property values
  • It’s not neighborly

Unbelievable Hypocrisy

And, in an amazing act of hypocrisy, even the Eichler Board wrote (in an email to its members) that it’s willing to erect a tower adjacent to other people’s houses, but doesn’t want one erected next door to the club because the club won’t get any money.  “Another motivation for pursuing this project was to head off the possibility of a tower being erected just over the fence from us at a business on East Meadow Circle, where we would have all the visual impact and concerns from some about ambient radiation exposure, yet gain no financial benefit,” wrote the Board of Governors on Sunday.

All we’re talking about here is $20,000 a year which comes to $5.50 per member per month.

Be a good neighbor and join us tonight!

When: Tonight, Thurs November 18th at 7:15 PM

Where: Eichler Club: 3539 Louis Road

Bring a flashlight
Children are welcome

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Club Heads off Tower in THEIR Back Yard

In an email to its members, the Eichler Board of Governors admitted that it was concerned about a business next to the club erecting the very same tower next to its facility that it wants to erect near our homes.  Check out this statement from their email:

“Another motivation for pursuing this project was to head off the possibility of a tower being erected just over the fence from us at a business on East Meadow Circle, where we would have all the visual impact and concerns from some about ambient radiation exposure, yet gain no financial benefit.”

Board of Governors, Eichler Swim and Tennis Club, November 15, letter to members.

See entire letter to the members of the board below:

Dear Eichler members:

As promised, here is the letter from with detailed information about the proposed cell tower at Eichler Club. This is a complex issue with many aspects to consider before coming to a final conclusion.

We would like to thank our members for their support of all of our efforts as a Board. Even those who disagree with us on this particular proposal have by and large done so in a civil and respectful manner. We value and respect everyone’s input and look forward to hearing from you.

Please watch your mailbox for a hard-copy survey to fill out and return.

Thank you.
Sincerely,
Eichler Swim and Tennis Club Board of Governors
Lynn Magill, President
Tess Byler, Vice-President
Jean Hsia, Secretary
Clive Hallatt
Holden Jessup
Tracey Wycoff

DECISION PROCESS
We first received an introductory letter from a representative of Trillium Telecom, AT&T’s site location company, last April. The letter stated that the representative was seeking a lease with a business in the area for locating a cellular communication tower and associated equipment. Letters were also sent to the businesses around East Meadow Circle, behind Eichler. As a board we agreed to follow up to see if this made sense for our property.

There are several advantages to the Club and the surrounding neighborhood. For the Club, income from the project would be a significant benefit:

The initial figure we were given for the lease is $20,000 per year for about 500 square feet of space, but that is a starting point for negotiation. We believe we can increase that. There would also be annual increases built in.
We can get a “community upgrade” from AT&T, which is basically a signing bonus, allowing us to have funds immediately to put to use for capital improvements. This could be $15-$20,000.
Over the course of a 5-year lease, for example, this could be worth $140-$150,000 to the Club.

Given the sparse AT&T coverage in this area, we felt that this would provide indoor service to a radius of 0.7 miles from the Club. Attached are maps showing local AT&T coverage now, and what it would be with a tower in this area. A tower in this neighborhood would also improve local 911 cell phone coverage.

Another motivation for pursuing this project was to head off the possibility of a tower being erected just over the fence from us at a business on East Meadow Circle, where we would have all the visual impact and concerns from some about ambient radiation exposure, yet gain no financial benefit.

NEIGHBORHOOD IMPACT
Our first choice for the tower location was behind the back tennis courts in the unused strip of land between the courts and the commercial property behind us. However, AT&T’s engineer rejected the location as being too close to several extremely large Eucalyptus trees clustered together just over the fence. The trees would interfere with one sector of the signal. We started considering other locations, and finally settled on an area along the back tennis court fence, about 26 feet in from the property line on the side closest to Greer Road. We could still house all the equipment in the original preferred location, just not the tower itself.

Our neighbors on Greer Road are separated from our property by Barron Creek, a right of way for utility trucks and an easement totaling about 45 feet. The distance from the nearest neighbor’s back fence to the base of the tower would therefore be about 75 feet. Within the easement is a line of utility poles as well as a row of tall pine trees. We believe that if the tower were visible at all from our neighbors’ property, it would be just the tip above the antenna.

Likewise, the view from Louis Road to the proposed tower location would be impeded by our building and other trees. We feel that the tower would be less visible to people living in the immediate area than it would have been if it were located behind some of the businesses on East Meadow Circle that don’t have buffer zones between commercial and residential property. Attached is a map of the area as well as a satellite view, which shows both residences and businesses.

We would prefer that the proposed tower location be moved back to the area behind the back tennis courts. The Board has tried to talk to the owner of the commercial property behind the club about taking down the Eucalyptus trees, but he has not returned our phone calls. This is not simply so we can put a tower there, but because we are concerned about the safety of these trees. They are very top heavy and sway precipitously in a strong breeze. Eucalyptus trees have shallow root systems, and therefore fall over easily, and large branches tend to drop with no advance notice. There are power lines on Eichler property which are very close to these trees. Another concern is that the trees drop leaves and debris across our property, creating a mess to clean up and frequently causing our tennis players to slip. Attached is a photo of these trees and power lines.

The City of Palo Alto will not force the property owner to take down the trees, as they currently appear to be healthy, but we feel that he would significantly reduce his liability by doing so. In addition, we may be able to get AT&T to bear some or all of the expense if he agrees to remove and replace them with shade trees more appropriate to this setting.

SAFETY
Naturally, our first question as Board members when we considered this project was: Is it safe?

There is an enormous amount of material available on the internet to support any position one might have on this topic. We have been referred to many different sources of information by members and neighbors, but relied on FCC guidelines for assurance that we would not be endangering our members, neighbors or local school children with this installation. There is an FAQ on Radio Frequency radiation from the FCC available at http://www.fcc.gov/oet/rfsafety/rf-faqs.html, as well as a page specifically devoted to cell phones and cell towers at http://www.fcc.gov/oet/rfsafety/cellpcs.html.

The American Cancer Society has taken the position that cell towers pose a minimal risk to humans: http://www.cancer.org/Cancer/CancerCauses/OtherCarcinogens/AtHome/cellular-phone-towers. And a recently completed study by the Imperial College of London found no link between cell towers and childhood cancers: http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=117453

This would be a low power antenna, designed to fill in a particular service area that currently has little or no AT&T coverage. Radio frequency exposure from this antenna would be thousands of times below FCC recommended limits and contribute negligibly to the whole spectrum of electromagnetic radiation which people readily accept for themselves and their children from wireless networks, cell phones, PDAs, cordless phones, high voltage power lines, household appliances, vehicle mounted radio transmitters (such as those used by radio and TV stations) and so on.

A concern has been raised about the proximity of Palo Verde Elementary School. It has been stated that the Palo Verde Elementary School is within 600 feet of the base of the proposed tower. While the southeast corner of the school property (near the dumpsters) is about 600 feet away, the school is quite large and the kindergarten area is almost an additional 500 feet away. Since the antenna would be 60 feet up, the distances are larger still. This may not reassure anyone who is already afraid of having a cell tower anywhere near the school but we feel that any discussion about this issue should at least start with the basic facts.

Note also that all schools in the area all have wireless networks and many children who carry and use cell phones.

HOW WE WOULD USE THE PROCEEDS
Eichler Club is not cash-strapped or desperate for money. We would like to build up our Capital Maintenance Account to where we can fund short and long term capital projects without having to increase dues to meet those needs. Any income we get from sources other than member dues would be put directly into the Capital Maintenance Account and saved for improvements to the Club facility.

Some non-members have suggested that we increase our membership in order to generate additional revenues. This is a large undertaking which would probably involve changing our Conditional Use Permit as well as getting a 2/3 vote of approval from our member families. Even if our members would support taking this step, it might not have any practical effect. Due to the slow economy, our waiting list is shorter now than it has been in many years and many prospective members opt to go to the bottom of the list when their names come up as they are not yet ready to join. The Board does not feel that this would be a desirable step for the club to take at this time.

ATTACHMENTS
Coverage map now and with a tower at Eichler
Map and satellite view of businesses and residences in the area
Photo of Eucalyptus trees and power lines

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Q & A About the Eichler Board’s Proposal to Build a 75-Foot Cell Tower

No one wants to be a bad neighbor

Local residents are of proud of the Eichler Swim and Tennis Club but if the members go along with the Board’s proposal to build a 75-foot cell tower on the property, it will become a source of ongoing resentment.

Is it safe?

Proponents of the cell tower claim that it is 100% safe but that’s not what the prestigious National Academy of Science says. In 2008 report (http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=12036) the Academy’s blue ribbon panel of scientists identified several “research gaps” about cell phone tower safety including “a need to characterize exposure of juveniles, children, pregnant women, and fetuses.”

Of course there are conflicting studies and it is true that the cell phones we carry also emit radiation, but the Eichler tower will emit signals 24 hours a day and, besides, we have the choice over whether to expose ourselves and our children to cell phones. With the tower, we have no choice.

The tower would be less than 600 feet from Palo Verde Elementary School

Could it impact property values?

Under California law, sellers would have to disclose their proximity to the tower.   Every real estate professional we’ve asked has said that the presence of a cell tower could lower the resale value of nearby homes and the club itself.

Is it Ugly?

Well, the Eichler board thinks it won’t be because it will be disguised as a fake tree. But if you’ve ever seen one these “trees” up close, you’ll probably agree that they are eye sores –especially if they’re towering over our houses up to 75 feet in the air. The tower will dominate the view for several residents directly behind the club.  Would you want this tower next to your house? If the answer is no, then don’t let the Eichler board put it next to our houses.

Is it Worth it?

The Eichler board thinks it will earn $20,000 a year from the tower. That’s a fraction of its budget and comes to only $5.55 per month per member. And that’s BEFORE taxes.  The Eichler’s tax exempt status may require it to pay income tax on revenue not related to its recreational mission. If the club has to pay taxes on this income, it will be closer to $13,000 or $3.60 per month per member.  Is $3.60 a month enough to want you to be a member of a club that many of your neighbors will despise?  Whatever joy you get from the club would be diminished by the knowledge that you’re club is acting like a terrible neighbor.

What can you do?

Click here for help in contacting editors and officals

Email:info@StopFakeTree.org

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How Tall is a 75-foot Tree?

This satellite photo shows the approximate placement and relative height of the 75-foot proposed tree at the back of the Eicher Swim and Tennis Club

The yellow line shows the approximate placement and relative height of the proposed fake tree at the Eichler club.  The palm trees in the foreground are 51 feet tall. Note how close the tower is to homes.

How Big Compared to a Nearby Home?
The proposed “tree” is 75 feet tall. Here’s a drawing of the fake tree and a scale of a nearby Eichler home – which is 11′ 3″ tall, compared to the 75′ foot tree.

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