At a recent community meeting, I made a statement that many considered outrageous.
If you want to reduce exposure to radio frequency (“RF”) energy from mobile devices, then we should be putting base stations in every lightpost in the city.
Here is the basis of my line of thought. RF energy exposure decays exponentially with distance from the source. As a result, the greatest exposure you have to mobile EMF radiation is from devices themselves, because the devices are close to you. Indeed, even if a person doesn’t own a mobile device, you can bet that there are phones and data sticks being used by people sitting next you on the bus or subway or walking near you on the street or sitting next to you in the restaurant or coffee shop.
A recent study by Public Health Ontario examined EMF exposure levels near a new mobile tower located adjacent to a community centre in Vaughan, Ontario. The study examined radiation exposure levels at six locations in and around the community centre and found that, at the “worst” location, just 80 meters from the tower, the exposure was nearly 600 times below the safety standard, known as Safety Code 6 (“SC6”). The report also indicates that the hottest location found in Toronto is in the area of Metro Hall, still running at close to 50 times below SC6. The report suggests that Metro Hall’s proximity to downtown Toronto broadcast facilities has driven the higher than average RF readings – not mobile phones or devices. Keep in mind that we have been exposed to radio and TV broadcasting for generations. RF energy exposure is not new.
But let’s return to RF energy exposure from mobile services.
Health Canada reminds cell phone users that they can take practical measures to reduce their RF exposure by:
- limiting the length of cell phone calls
- using “hands-free” devices
- replacing cell phone calls with text messages
Health Canada also encourages parents to take these measures to reduce their children’s RF exposure from cell phones since children are typically more sensitive to a variety of environmental agents.
Precautions to limit exposure to RF energy from cell phone towers are unnecessary because exposure levels are typically well below those specified in health-based exposure standards.
That is worth repeating. Health Canada has made suggestions to reduce RF exposure to devices, but it explicitly states “Precautions to limit exposure to RF energy from cell phone towers are unnecessary because exposure levels are typically well below those specified in health-based exposure standards.”
Despite the emotions whipped up by neighbours and purveyors of junk science, the towers are not the issue. If you are concerned about being exposed to RF energy from mobile services, then it seems to me that you would want to limit to output required by the devices. These are the transmitters that are closest to you, whether you own a device or not. The radios in these devices adjust power based on the strength of the signal from the tower. So, my logic goes that if you want the phone to dial down the power, make sure that it has access to 5 bars of network signal. The logical progression is that we need more towers in order to reduce exposure to RF energy.
I can appreciate the concerns of neighbours based on the visual appeal of towers – or more precisely, the lack of visual appeal of most towers. So I have great hopes that Douglas Coupland’s V-pole, or similar solutions get deployed in our communities. I’d like to have one replace the municipal light pole in my front yard.
At the end of the day, cell phones and mobile services save lives.
Tell your local municipal councillor that you want more towers – attractive ones, or camouflaged towers – to reduce your exposure to RF energy and improve your mobile service.