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Sonoma County Gazette
Verizon cellphone tower © Alan Levine 2012

OPINION: Deny Verizon's Cellphone Tower

May 1, 2018


By Paul-André Schabracq

Approving Verizon’s application is the veritable nose of the camel under the tent. It would mean that colocation of cellphone towers would occur without any further review and Sebastopol could no longer deny the future applications of other telecom companies wanting to install 4G towers throughout the city. The result would be 4G and 5G cell towers throughout the city. This would increase by several orders of magnitude the community’s exposure to toxic levels of microwave radiation.

218 scientists in 40 nations have signed The International EMF Scientist Appeal, which states: “Numerous recent scientific publications have shown that EMF affects living organisms at levels well below most international and national guidelines. Effects include increased cancer risk, cellular stress, increase in harmful free radicals, genetic damages, structural and functional changes of the reproductive system, learning and memory deficits, neurological disorders, and negative impacts on general well-being in humans. Damage goes well beyond the human race, as there is growing evidence of harmful effects to both plant and animal life.”

The Federal Communications Commission regulations have prevented local governments from denying cellphone towers based on the well-established serious adverse health impacts of cellphone radiation. Nonetheless, many cities and counties in California have successfully denied the installation of 4G cellphone towers based on other very defensible findings.   

While it is understandable that Sebastopol City staff may have a reluctance to risk involvement in costly legal disputes, protecting the public health and safety of the community should be their first priority. It is essential that the Planning Commission act now to deny Verizon’s cell tower application.

Paul-André Schabracq is an urban and environmental planner who only uses his cellphone when it is absolutely necessary.


May 8, 2018
LETTER SUBMITTED VIA EMAIL: Paul-André Schabracq makes a false case for Sebastopol denying 4G and 5G cell towers because “This would increase by several orders of magnitude the community’s exposure to toxic levels of microwave radiation.” He’s got it backwards. More towers means we are all exposed to less EMF. Just as everything is a poison with high enough exposures (high water exposure is called drowning), all EMF is deadly with high enough exposures (you would not want to put yourself inside a microwave oven). Which is the biggest source, a cell tower or your phone? When you whisper with someone right next to you, sound energy is at its minimum. When someone is far away, you have to yell at each other. The sound level you each hear is still very low but, anyone standing next to you is going to get their ears blasted by your yelling. So too with cell towers and cell phones. Your phone power output is exactly the same as the cell tower it is talking with. You are right next to your phone absorbing its energy which is thousands of times greater than the energy you are getting from the cell tower. Don’t take my word for it, test it yourself. Stand someplace with full signal strength, and make a five-minute call. Notice what percentage of your battery was used up. Go out into the woods where your signal strength is its absolute minimum, and make another 5-minute call. Compare how much battery was used. All that energy used by your phone in the woods went through your body. You get a higher EMF exposure when you use your phone far away from a cell tower. Paul-André got it wrong. To reduce the EMF you receive from your phone, you want more cell towers around town, not less. A little EMF sprinkled on you constantly from a cell tower is comparable to a little water sprinkled on you constantly, your body handles it just fine. Your phone trying to reach a far away cell tower is exactly like a person right next to your ear yelling at someone far away. It’ll hurt. More towers means lower power exposure from your cell phone.
- Vesta Copestakes

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