The Harmful Effects of Cell Towers and Cell Phones

by Harrison Barritt
June 22nd, 2011

The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom

Isaac Asimov

Cell Phones Can Cause Cancer

On May 31, 2011, the World Health Organization publicly acknowledged something many of us have sensed for years: the use of cell phones can cause cancer. This overdue revelation was made by a team of 31 scientists from 14 countries including the U.S., who looked at many of the same peer-reviewed studies I’ve been looking at.

I am more sensitive to the radiation coming from wireless technology than most people, which means I can’t use a cordless phone, a cell phone, or be too close to a Wi-fi router. It gives me head pain within minutes. I was an average cell phone user before my sensitivity manifested about seven years ago. The nebulous task of tracing one’s health condition is often compounded when several doctors can offer no assistance, other than to say, “I have heard of this.”

Head Pain

In my case, I finally discovered the source of my pain, by noticing what I was doing just before and during the head pain. Voila. Wireless radiation: my cell phone, and being around wireless routers. Luckily these things emit a field that, thanks to a meter I purchased, I can stay clear of when I’m in doubt. It’s a field of non-ionizing radiation produced by any communication device not plugged into a wall. It turns out there’s are several million people with this condition called Electro Hyper Sensitivity or EHS and that number is growing all the time. The World Health Organization is currently discussing adding Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS) and Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity (EHS) to the International Classification of Diseases, ICD10 code list.

These electromagnetic fields affect all people, not just those who are hypersensitive. In my case, I pay right away for any exposure I get. For those of you unable to detect any exposure you get, you still pay for it — let’s say, on credit.

I discovered hundreds of peer-reviewed, solid studies, both nationally and internationally, linking our normal exposure to non-ionizing radiation, exactly the same kind coming from cell phones and cell towers, with single and double strand DNA breaks, loss of melatonin and subsequent chronic exhaustion, concentration disorders, headaches, connective tissue pains, extreme fluctuations in blood pressure, arrhythmias, and two cancerous afflictions: leukemia and brain tumors. Astrocytomas are the tumors we’re seeing more and more of in people exposed to EMF’s after only five years.

The Information on Cell Phones Is Fighting To Get To You

How could this be? Why wouldn’t this have come out in a much bigger way by now? Simple: this information is fighting to get to you. The Industry has hired legions of PR spin doctors who dissect studies showing biological harm from its products, be it through Wi-fi, cell phones or cell towers. These middlemen argue vehemently against negative findings, so much so that most journalists covering this on going saga will accept the idea that “more studies are needed,” or swallow the dubious “inconclusive evidence” tactic that Industry has sold the public on. Further strategies include flooding the Web with thousands of Industry funded studies, all of which reveal no harmful effects from cellular technology. But how many of us follow the money trails of these studies?

Think about where you get your information from. You probably rely on a popular stream of information coming through major media and community. That’s not good enough with any issue, particularly this one. You have to read the science, before it gets doctored, the studies not funded by the Telecommunications Industry, the volumes of epidemiological studies reporting scores of symptoms from living near towers and using cell phones. And if you don’t look at this range of original research, you are in the hands of a series of corporations with an insatiable appetite for growth, capital and dominance without the slightest conscience for its customers’ well being.

Billions in Profit for the Government

The Cellular Communication industry generates billions in profit and in revenue for the government. It is linked to retirement funds, media, banking giants, entertainment industries, the educational market, the music industry and medicine. If enough news stories broke, and significant doubt in citizens replaced their complacent routine use of cell phones, the Industry would be forced to redesign wireless technology for safety and not just with more bells and whistles. But this kind of redesigning, akin to a recall in the automotive industry, would leave the wireless industry in the precarious position of tacitly admitting that millions have been at risk for years with dangerous exposure levels. They could face a potential avalanche of personal and class action law suits. Back in April of1999, The London Observer reported that a leading Lloyds of London underwriter decided against insuring cell phone manufacturers due to the “concern about the safety of mobile phones … [and] the risk of damage to users’ health… [and] fears that mobile phones will be linked to illnesses such as cancer and Alzheimer’s (Ryle, The London Observer 1999).

So who’s protecting us? The FCC? The FDA? The World Heath Organization? Nope. All on the payroll, so to speak. Thankfully in the case of the WHO, there are some not under the spell of industry pressure as evidenced by the recent headlines. But these agencies all have revolving doors to the Telecommunications Industry. And if you follow the careers of key members, you’ll see that either before or after their regulatory jobs, they’ve been on the payroll for the telecommunications industry, a painfully obvious conflict of interest that seems to drift by without the outrage it deserves. So the public health message is clear: “Carry on everyone. It’s all good.” And this is precisely why you haven’t heard or read about this before in any sustained way from any major media. It’s a titanic. It’s too big and unsinkable. Well, for now anyway.

I know how sickening it is to hear yet another toxin we have to watch out for. It’s exhausting. You want to just be able to live your life and not have to dodge bullets left and right. Have you seen that bumper sticker: “If you think education is expensive, try ignorance”? And I’m sorry in a way to tell you this, but your cell phone and naturally the cell tower it gets its signal from are breaking down your immune system by presenting it with a chronic source of inflammation.

There’s a simple rule regarding radiation safety: distance, degree and duration. The distance you are from the source of radiation, the degree of the radiation and the duration of the radiation all directly affect the harm that radiation does to you. There is controversy regarding “safe” when it comes to non-ionizing radiation. For myself, anything more than 200 millivolts per meter (m/Vm) causes me pain. Members of the Bioinitiative Report, ( a massive compilation of peer reviewed international studies on the impact of wireless technology, warn of the foolishly high public exposure limits the FCC and FDA have sanctioned.

Cell Phone Towers

In the case of a cell tower, we have methodical and scientific proof that a dose response relationship exists for people living within 400 meters of a cell tower. Dose response means: the closer residents were to a tower, the greater the dose of radiation and the greater their negative biological response was. A German study by a team of local medical doctors with data from over 10 years, discovered a threefold increase in new malignancies in people living up to 400 meters from a tower after five years exposure when compared to people living further away in the same town. (The Naila Study 2004). A report in 2006 by the head of The Cancer Registry in Berlin, Roland Stabenow, informed the residents that there is an increase of sevenfold in breast cancer in their area with cellular towers. A small study by General Practitioners at the Kaplan Medical Centre, Israel, discovered a fourfold increase in cancer within 350 meters after long term exposure to a cell tower and a ten fold increase specifically in women (Journal of Cancer Prevention 1-2, April 2004). On a positive note, the Athens Appeals Court ruled in 2006, that ten cell towers were ordered for removal, considered to pose a threat to public health.

Other countries like France, who removed Wi-Fi from the National Library of Paris after workers reported chronic health symptoms, or Germany, whose Health Commission recommended the removal of all Wi-Fi from schools, are way ahead of us, in terms of seeing the double edged sword of wireless technology.

Where I live, in Gardiner, New York, there’s a proposal for two new towers to go up: one on the Town Hall, and one on South Mountain Road. The town board dismissed my health concerns, as did many of the folks at the meeting several months ago. One of the board members stated their main drive is the revenue that they hope to get for the town, as well as the increased coverage area for a better signal. And this is the problem. What is the true price we pay for a full signal, in our homes? We’re not only up against an industry willing to sacrifice us for profit, but also, our own deeply conditioned beliefs that we’re in good hands. The fact that hundreds of people protest cell towers in cities around the country and all over the world, even taking the law into their own hands and ripping them down in some cases, completely eludes us. In fact most folks don’t even know it’s a controversial issue.

You don’t live near a cell tower? That’s good. But what do you think your wireless router is? It’s a miniature cell tower. And it radiates the same hazardous field of approximately 800-1200 millivolts per meter as a tower could, at 300 meters. Amazing right? And this thing is in your house! In some cases, your bedroom. Worse yet, close to your kids’ bedroom. Your cell phone puts out a near field plume of non-ionizing radiation. So apply the Three D’s to folks living close to a tower, the router in your home, and of course your phone. Not good. Remember, distance from the source, the degree of radiation and the duration you are exposing yourself.

There’s little the regulatory agencies can and will do to protect you. In 1996, the Telecommunications Industry lobbied millions to congress and got an Act passed making it impossible for citizens or groups to protest the construction of cell towers in their communities on the basis of health issues. No one is looking out for you with this. By the time it becomes painfully obvious that the current exposure levels on your cell phone and router and the towers dotting our landscape cause a myriad of diseases, including Cancer, you, your family and friends will have accumulated that many more years of radiation, which you will have been paying for all along, whether you felt it, or not.


Harrison Barritt, is a high school English teacher and part time adjunct, working in the Mid Hudson Valley of upstate New York. He lives with my wife and two children in Gardiner, NY.

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