Sunday, February 08, 2009

Cell phone tower: NIMBY

It seems that a group of namby-pamby NIMBYs down in Florida (naturally) are objecting to the notion of a local school district installing a cell phone tower on its property in order to raise revenue, citing the fear that the antenna will bake the little heads of the poor unsuspecting students.  Depleted Cranium has a good article with some hard facts on how this is FUD, not that it'll matter that much.

While I remain open to the possibility that the 2 mW/cm² that one gets from using a cellphone next to one's head might be incrementally damaging in the long term, there is as of yet no convincing evidence that even exposure at that level is dangerous. The FCC's exposure studies (see FCC OET bulletins 56 and 65, required reading for any wireless licensee anyway) are based on whole-body models and may be inadequate for wavelengths shorter than 1 meter, but at this point we don't have any science that clearly indicates that the FCC's models are inadequate—just claims that they must be because "all the studies that say that cell phones are safe have been funded by cell phone companies".

I think in most cases the problem is that people think cell towers are ugly (and many of them are, although they are getting better at making them less so), but they think that argument won’t fly and so they rely on the FUD objection instead as that’s perceived as more likely to work. And besides, think of the children!