Cell Phone Towers. What Distance is Safe to Live?

by Sarah Affiliate linksGreen LivingComments: 14

cell phone tower safety
Mobile phone use continues to expand rapidly around the world. Within the next year, the number of cell phone users worldwide is projected to pass 5 billion. In the United States, well over 90% of adults now have a cell phone. The rate is nearly 50% among children as young as 10!

Not surprisingly, with so many mobile devices in use, the infrastructure to support them has grown substantially as well. Cell towers are continuing to pop up everywhere. In my small town, two new applications were filed this year alone! 

If you don’t see any in your neighborhood don’t be fooled. Some cell towers are now disguised to look like trees especially if the tower is in a residential area. Disney World is famous for its tree-like cell phone infrastructure that blends almost invisibly with real foliage nearby.

The good news is that a growing number of people are now taking wise precautions to protect themselves from electromagnetic radiation (EMFs).

Radiation free (airtube) ear budslaptop shields and carrying cases are three that we use in our home. Avoiding fitbits and wireless baby monitors and turning off wifi at night are wise steps too. Smart meter covers are another safety device that people are resorting to in order to avoid the health risks from smart meters that generate strong EMF signals 24/7.

Cell Tower Radiation

But what about cell phone towers and mobile antennas attached to existing structures? You can’t easily avoid them as they are everywhere. They are even constructed right next to schools in some cases.

Scientific Research: Living Close to a Cell Tower a Likely Cancer Risk

Many people seem to not worry about living or working in close proximity to cell towers and antennas. However, German and Israeli research to date gives cause for concern.

German Research on Cell Tower Safety

In a German study, doctors examined close to 1000 patients to see if living at the same address close to a cell tower for 10 years affected cancer risk. The social and age differences within the study group were small, with no ethnic diversity.

They discovered that the proportion of newly developed cancer cases was three times higher for those living within 1300 feet (a quarter of a mile) of a cellular transmitter compared to those living further away. In addition, they found that the patients became ill with cancer on average 8 years earlier.

A distance of 1300 feet (400m) is of particular importance. This is because computer simulation and measurements used in the study indicated that the radiation at that distance or less (the “inner area”) is 100 times greater than emissions beyond that distance (the “outer area”).

Another important observation from the research is that for the first 5 years of living near a cell phone tower, the risks were no different than someone living far away from one. However, in years 6-10, the cancer risks jumped more than threefold for those living a quarter of a mile or less from a mobile tower. Even more concerning, the average age of diagnosis was much younger. Risk for breast cancer, prostate, pancreas, bowel, melanoma, lung, and blood cancer all increased substantially.

The risks for breast cancer were most significant for those living in the inner area, with an average age of 50.8 year for a cancer diagnosis compared with nearly two decades later (70 years of age) for those in the outer area.

Israeli Mobile Phone Tower Research

Israeli research conducted by Tel Aviv University confirms a similar pattern.

In this study, 622 people living 1148 feet (350m) or less from a cell phone transmission station for 3-7 years were compared to 1222 controls living further away.

Out of the high exposure group, 8 cases of cancer were diagnosed within just one year. 3 cases of breast cancer and 1 case each of ovarian, lung, bone, kidney and lymphatic cancer.

In the control group, only 2 cases of cancer occurred even though the control group was roughly twice as large as the highly exposed group.

Based on these results, the researchers calculated the relative risk of cancer to be over four times higher for those living 350m or less (about one-fifth of a mile) from a cell phone transmitter.

Women May Be More Susceptible to Cell Tower Radiation

The Tel Aviv University research found that women appear to be more susceptible to the health effects of living near a cell tower than men.

Seven out of the eight cancers that arose during the first year were females. Thus, women living one-fifth of a mile or less from a cell tower experienced a ten fold increase in cancer risk compared with controls.

Cell Phone Tower Safety. What Should YOU Do?

If this research is concerning to you as it was to me, I would recommend that you check out antennasearch.com.

This site provides information on how many cell phone towers and mobile antennas are in your area. The exact distance of each from your home address is provided as well.

Do not rely just on your visual observation of the neighborhood. Cell towers are increasingly disguised as trees. Moreover, even if no cell towers exist, there are likely plenty of cellular antennas on existing buildings and other structures.

A typical mobile phone tower will hold 10 or more cellular antennas for various companies.

If you are planning to buy a home in the near future, consideration of cellular phone infrastructure nearby is very important. It ranks right up there with schools and other positives and negatives about the neighborhood.

I fully expect that in the future, as more research concerning the effects of EMFs on human biology emerges, real estate prices will be affected by their relative proximity to cell phone towers and/or antennas.

One word of warning. Don’t be overly concerned when you initially check your home address for nearby cellular infrastructure. The number is likely to be extremely high!

Wait until you see how close the towers and antenna are first! For example, I discovered that there are 81 towers and 124 antennas located within 4 miles of my front door! This is in a rural residential community too! However, once I looked more closely, I found that none of them is closer than a half mile away.

What to Do if You Live Very Close

If you find that you live within the inner circle of cellular towers, my suggestion is to consider moving. Though inconvenient, this is by far the best option. I’ve already had one friend change homes because of extreme sensitivity to high EMFs in her area. To date, Sweden and Germany recognize electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS) as an actual medical condition. I expect that to grow in the coming years. (1, 2)

In lieu of moving, there are bioenergetic devices that claim to reduce the exposure and/or risks from electromagnetic radiation. Whether they work or not is up for debate. As of this writing, I haven’t found any conclusive, randomized data to suggest they are helpful one way or another. However, if you can’t move, they are probably at least worth a shot! Perhaps in the future, they might be proven beneficial.

Another thing to be aware of is that EMF exposure has the potential to increase free radical activity in the body. Thus, living near a cell tower may decrease levels of certain protective nutrients. Thus, ensuring adequate levels of antioxidants such glutathione is a very good strategy.

The Healthy Home Economist holds a Master’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania. Mother to 3 healthy children, blogger, and best-selling author, she writes about the practical application of Traditional Diet and evidence-based wellness within the modern household. Her work has been featured by USA Today, The New York Times, National Review, ABC, NBC, and many others.

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