I. Setting the Stage
There’s a bill up for vote in the California legislature that will allow an estimated 50,000 cellular antennas to be installed across the state, from tops of buildings to light poles and even places close to your home. It’s already happened in Boston, and is about to happen on the west coast.
Many people are upset by it, including an activist who’s husband is suffering from brain cancer, but the bill is still slowly but surely making its way through the approval gates to be signed into law.
The reason they’re upset is because it will increase the wireless radiation levels throughout these cities. And the truth is we don’t yet know what, if any, damage that might cause to our health. What we do know for certain is that there is a biological response and some people are more sensitive to it than others. Just like some people burn in the sun faster than others.
This is a complex issue because, on the one hand, we want high speed internet on the go, but on the other, we also want to make sure we’re not harming ourselves in the process.
Thus, we’re sharing the story below about how we came across this knowledge, the impact it might have on our biology, the real science behind it, and how you can take action if you so choose.
II. What’s Happening in Boston
One of my longtime professional colleagues, August Brice, has been studying technology’s impact on our lives for a decade now. She urges people to pursue what she calls Tech Wellness. August Brice has spent a considerable amount of energy focused on the specific issue of wireless radiation, sometimes referred to as EMF’s.
Over the last 25 years, the amount of information-carrying radio waves we’re exposed to in our daily lives has skyrocketed. She’s the owner of a company called Safertech who’s Mission is “empowering safer living in a wireless world” by raising awareness and offering solutions to keep the mind, body, and spirit thriving in our connected world.
So, when I came across this new wireless antenna legislation that was about to be passed, she was the first person I contacted to find out more about what’s going out. It turns out she was in Boston over the weekend doing her own case study on the impact of the cellular antennas installed across the city over the last few years.
But before we explain what she found, a bit of education will help you put what comes next into context:
- EMF: It’s an acroynm for an electromagnetic field. There are handheld measurement devices that you can hold close to things like a microwave or your home WiFi router to see the level of radiation eminating from different sources (see image/link below).
- Standard EMF Levels: In an ideal world, you would have zero EMF signals and none of this would matter. But that’s simply not the world we live in. From August Brice’s extensive experience, an outdoor setting free of wireless cell towers will get you a reading of zero to 5 µW/m² (microwatts per meter squared). But a cellphone held against your head, depending on signal strength, can vary from 1,000 to 2,000 with lows in the hundreds and spikes up to 13,000 or higher.
The readings she saw from her EMF Meter were not what she expected. Inside the Apple store was typical of most office buildings, but next to the table of iPads, readings jumped from 650 to 1,000.
When she went outside to test the ambient levels, expecting them to be close to the single digits, she got quite the surprise. It wasn’t even close.
The reading was 3,000. Outside. That’s 3x the level observed inside the Apple store. On some street corners, the reading was as high as 7,000.
The reason is because on nearly every street corner, there were wireless antennas attached to poles. So here’s the rub. You are, in fact, surrounded by wireless devices all the time. You just don’t realize it because you’re not holding them in your hand. They exist instead above your head.
I spoke with August Brice at length about her experience in the wireless radiation area. She summarized it rather succinctly:
I’m not a scientist by trade so I’ve sought out the best scientific minds in this field — to understand my situation — my electro-sensitivity, for myself and to help others. It’s important at Safertech to make sure the information we share is balanced and substantiated by research. And because RF radiation (or information-carrying radio waves) are invisible and you can’t see them or touch them, I make it a pratice to carry an EMF meter with me to help people understand the prevalence of this invisible energy.
I create videos showing how devices emit RF energy, how that energy moves, how it changes, and ultimately, how it can be avoided. I seek credible EMF solutions for those who may be affected).
August Brice did more research after experiencing the impact of these installations in Boston and found this story in the Mercury News describing a Bill about to pass the California legislature that would ease permits for cell phone towers. They’re projecting 50,000 new cellular antennas.
With that level of increase in radiation, there’s bound to be similarly high readings of EMFs in California as detected in Boston. Again, this may not affect you, but we want you to be more informed of what’s happening in the environments where you live, work, and play.
A few resources so you can get smarter about what may be coming to California:
- PDF of the approved small cell installation details
- PDF license agreement between Verizon Wireless and the City of Boston
- A local Boston news story about what was to come back in January 2016
III. The California Legislation
So what does this California Senate Bill 649 actually do? Well, for one you have to stay up to date with the written text because it has already been amended 5 times over the last 5 months. Based on my reading, there are two main points to note:
- That communications infrastructure exist where people are, because it is an important local and national issue.
- Small cell providers need to obtain permits and follow the health, safety, and aesthetic rules.
So, the bill is written with fairness in mind, but the question here is really, How do we define safety? The Bill does not give a definition, even though it represents a critical point in this debate.
Ellen Marks, for instance, is the activist founder of The California Alliance for Safer Technology, a vocal opponent to anything that will allow an increase in radiation levels. She had this to say about the status of the California Senate Bill 649:
It is going to full assembly probably end of this week. Then back to the Senate for concurrence next week. Then to the Governor. We are giving it our all; even hired a high priced lobbyist (was able to raise funds as people are so angry about this). If people want to reach out to assembly members it has to be ASAP. The Governor is really important.
So, if you’re on the side of not wanting this to happen in California, the time to act is now. Call up the legislature. But if you’re ok with it, then sitting back and doing nothing will likely mean it will pass.
IV. The Science
Dr. George Carlo, a researcher in the area of radiation’s effect on our biology who led a nearly $30M research program funded by the cell phone industry in the late 90s, has been August Brice’s science advisor and colleague for about a decade now. He has done a considerable amount of research into the area and could be considered by some as one of the leading experts on the topic.
We talked to him about this new California Bill and he had this to say about EMF:
The health effects aspect is complicated. There is now no doubt scientifically that radio waves carrying information trigger some type of biological response in almost everyone exposed. However, what happens after the triggering is variable.
For some people, the triggering causes debilitating biological cascades that manifest as EHS, other symptoms and frank disease. Some people are being adversely effected but don’t know it because they confuse common symptoms like headaches, anxiety, being short-tempered, dizziness, sleep problems, weight-gain, and low energy with other things in life and don’t connect it to wireless devices and the infrastructure.
Still other people have developed adaptive responses so they are not functionally impaired at all. It’s important for people to become informed so that they can figure out where they fit and then take steps accordingly.
We also found a PDF listing 134 scientific research studies of the biological effects of RF radiation where you can become more informed and draw your own conclusions.
Of course, you might have expected that some of this research has been aimed at trying to find a link between radiation levels and cancer. There was a partial study released in May 2016 by the U.S. National Toxicology Program, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The research showed there’s a link to two types of cancer, prompting the American Cancer Society’s Chief Medical Officer to note that the results “mark a paradigm shift in our understanding of radiation and cancer risk.’’
There’s just as many studies showing no link to the negative health effects of this wireless radiation, so at this point it’s anyone’s guess. For example, we’re not yet sure if you’re at a higher risk when taking calcium channel blockers, but we do know that researchers are now saying RF damage occurs to our calcium receptors. Anecdotally, you could take a calcium channel blocker to stop the damage — but that, of course, is not a good solution as calcium channel blockers are for various cardio vascular diseases.
V. What You Can Do Today
It’s very easy. Stay informed so you don’t have to live in fear. You can do that by following along with August Brice’s company, SaferTech. Her personal passion fuels a site that covers all aspects of technologies possible pitfalls. There’s videos, research, and recommendations reviewed by top-notch professionals.
Take caution if you choose to do your own research on Google because most of the info on EMFs is either made to cause fear, or highly technical information that’s difficult to understand. That’s why August Brice started the site — to shine a light on a subject that’s scientific, serious, and hard to understand, but break it down and make it approachable.
Finally, if you want to impact the California Bill going through the legislature, contact your representative and tell them that you’re opposed to it (if you’re worried about the potential negative health implications, of course).
If you don’t act, nothing will ever change.