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The following year, Congress passed the Telecommunications Act of 1996. The act set the standards for emissions and included Section 704 (a), which made it illegal for any community to consider health or environment in regulating cell towers. Los Angeles Unified School District is demanding that section of the law be revised.

“Thanks to Clinton and the Telecommunications Act, you are not allowed to discuss the health risks, only the devaluation of real estate,” said Dr. Dan Harper in a recent interview, speaking about Section 704 (a). Harper, whose medical practice is based in Solana Beach, has appeared before several local city councils to speak against proposed cell towers. He has amassed hundreds of studies on the harmful effects of radio frequency exposure. According to testing he has done with his own meter, “radiation exposure levels in San Diego have increased over 2 million times since l990.” Harper says San Diego is second only to Washington, D.C., in radiation levels.

The Sweetwater schools that have cell phone towers are Castle Park High (4), Chula Vista High (3), Eastlake High (2), Hilltop High (2), Mar Vista High (1), Montgomery High (3), Olympian High (1), Otay Ranch High (5), Palomar High (1), Rancho Del Rey Middle School (2), San Ysidro High (4), Southwest High (2), National City Middle (1), as well as Imperial Beach Adult (1).

Though the risk of adverse health effects from exposure to cell phone towers on campuses is uncertain, the cash they generate each year for the district’s 42,000 students can be calculated: about $12 per student.

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joepublic May 18, 2011 @ 12:40 p.m.

The fact that it is illegal to consider health or environment when regulating cell towers is absurd, and the idea that the towers should stay until they're proven unsafe sounds a lot like the line tobacco and asbestos companies fed the public for years. Bravo to the Los Angeles Unified School District! Unfortunately, our Sweetwater Union High School District chooses to put the health of students and employees at risk to make twelve bucks per student a year. But then again, since it goes into their unmonitored general fund, maybe it will be spent on golf or at Hooters instead.


ArtTricque May 20, 2011 @ 11:58 a.m.

It is not "illegal" to consider health or the environment. It simply already has been considered, and standards have been set by the FCC at the federal government. Those standards are based on sound science, and in no way put anyone's lives at risk. And mentioning tobacco and asbestos is scaremongering and faulty logic. It takes the case of matters known to have bad effects then assumes cell phones will have the same. One cannot make that assumption.


Visduh May 19, 2011 @ 8:59 p.m.

Many of those school sites are excellent locations for cell phone towers. It isn't so easy to find spots for the towers in existing city development. So, where to put them?

If you treasure your cell phone service, just as I do, please keep in mind that there's no perfect spot for such a tower. When there can be no cell phone stations on or near schools, what other sorts of places will be OK? Good mobile telephone service cannot be taken for granted, and covering much of the US is very costly. As to whether those transmissions are harmful I do not know. There is no model for radio transmissions to damage living tissues as there is for higher-energy parts of the spectrum (X-rays and gamma rays.) Those are harmful, very much so.

Do I support that school district? Never! It is probably the second worse run district in the county (saying a lot) after the SD City Schools. Anything to make a buck, anything to fake out a parent, anything to fool an accrediting agency.

Oh, where's my credit card? I need to pay for lunch today.


Susan Luzzaro May 20, 2011 @ 9:50 a.m.


I read in The Economist how some European communication companies share the expense of building cell phone masts and base stations and share the masts as carriers. I've also read how some U.S. cities are calling for master plans for cell tower placement, as opposed to random or clustering.

As for schools and senior centers and such, there is enough science to support a cautious attitude.

Sweetwater does seem to be reaching the boiling point.


Twister May 21, 2011 @ 6:31 p.m.

The precautionary principle does not suggest that all risk should be avoided, but it does say that when there is a question about safety, the burden does not fall on proving that something is unsafe, but that it is safe. (NOTE: This is a common-sense version, not a "scientific" one, so nit-pickers will please be specific in their criticisms.)


Susan Luzzaro May 21, 2011 @ 9:44 p.m.

Thanks Twister, I read so many things in preparation for this article and I have been scratching my head trying to remember what I read about the European Union and this concept.

From Wikepedia:

The precautionary principle or precautionary approach states that if an action or policy has a suspected risk of causing harm to the public or to the environment, in the absence of scientific consensus that the action or policy is harmful, the burden of proof that it is not harmful falls on those taking the action.


Mic July 9, 2012 @ 3:20 p.m.

Apparently 3% of people suffer some degree of Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity. Genetic damage, reproductive defects, cancer, neurological degeneration and nervous system dysfunction, immune system dysfunction, cognitive effects, protein and peptide damage, kidney damage, and developmental effects have all been reported in the peer‐reviewed scientific literature, also the effects of electromagnetic frequencies satisfy Hill's criteria on causality note the American Academy of Environmental Medicine in an April 12 2012 position paper. It's a free country - look it up yourself!


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