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Mono County Public Health Officer position statement on Crowley cell tower issue

April 13, 2011

Dr. Rick Johnson, Mono County Public Health Officer, has today (April 13, 2011) submitted the following statement on the cell tower issue in Crowley Lake. He emphasizes it is separate from the Planning/approval process of any individual tower or base station, and simply expresses his opinion as the Health Officer in response to requests for information regarding RF emissions:

"It Shouldn’t Be About The Tower!
The recent introduction of mobile phones has led to the widespread use of this technology and a substantial increase in the number of mobile phone base stations (MPBS), or cell towers, all over the world. The development has raised public concerns and substantial controversy about the potential health effects of the radiofrequency (RF) electromagnetic field (EMF) emissions from this and related technologies. Just the word “radiation” invokes fear and horror, especially in light of the ongoing events in Japan, and the fear of terrorist attacks.

A recent systematic review published in October 2010 identified all relevant peer-reviewed papers up until that time dealing with mobile phone base stations. All reported outcomes were checked for what is called “meta-analysis” suitability, which means being able to more powerfully estimate the true effect from a hypothetical cause such as radiation.

The review does not indicate an association between any health outcome and radio-frequency electromagnetic field exposure from mobile phone base stations at levels typically encountered in people’s everyday environment. The evidence can be considered strong, because it is based on randomized trials applying controlled exposure conditions in a laboratory.

However, there is a disclaimer. Regarding long-term effects, data are scarce and the evidence for the absence of long-term effects is limited. Very little information on effects in children and adolescents is available and the question of potential risk for these age groups remains unresolved.

The real world is full of trade-offs between risk and benefit. If there is in fact any actual health risk from cell phone towers, it is by most authoritative accounts an exceedingly small risk – and certainly one incomparably smaller than many risks voluntarily taken every day by many of us such as driving cars, crossing the street, smoking, and overeating. By the way, how many cell phone minutes will your child rack up over her lifetime – holding the device right up to her ear as it causes her brain to overheat? How much time does he spend exercising his thumbs with your smart phone? We should change our behavior and act on what we know, and proceed cautiously into the future as we learn from experience.

Note: Local government has no authority to regulate RF emissions associated with personal wireless service (including cell towers and phones). Concerns should be addressed to the Federal Communications Commission at: http://wireless.fcc.gov/"

Mono County Planning Commission meets at 6 p.m., Thursday, April 14, at the Crowley Lake Community Center. The commission will take public comment on the cell tower application by Incline Partners to build two cell towers on Crowley Lake Drive.

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