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Report on School Safety: Wakeup Call on Possible Cell Tower Danger

April 28, 2010

WASHINGTON, D.C. – There is new evidence it's not just cell phones that might harm children's health, but the invisible radiation from cell towers and antennas sited near schools across the country. A four-year study released today (Wednesday) ranks children's potential exposure to radiation at more than 6,000 schools in U.S. state capitols. Dr. Magda Havas, author of the "BRAG Antenna Ranking of Schools," says many cell antennas are located too close to schools.

"In some states, for example, there's more than 100 antennas within a quarter-mile of the school. Now, that's very high levels of radiation."

Many regulatory bodies take the position that radiation is harmless unless it is powerful enough to heat tissues, such as in a microwave oven. Havas, a professor of environmental and resources studies at Canada’s Trent University, says her research indicates daily exposure to such radiation (called non-ionizing) increases the risk of developing cancerous tumors and other serious health problems.

"Things like difficulty sleeping, chronic fatigue, chronic pain, headaches, and problems with cognition, both in terms of concentrating and in recall."

The report recommends the FCC require wireless towers be kept at least 1,500 feet away from schools. In the past, citizen and community protests against siting antennas close to schools have been stymied by a provision of the Telecom Act of 1996 which limits state and local governments' ability to consider health or environmental concerns in the siting of wireless infrastructure.

The report also allows parents to look up information about their children's school, if they live in a state capitol. Havas says few people are aware of the danger, and she believes it is vital to get the word out.

"This is something that parents need to know about, teachers need to know about, and school administrators need to know about."

Jim Turner, chairman of Citizens for Health in Washington, D.C., says previous studies have considered only short-term radiation exposure – while children in schools near antennas are being exposed all day long.

"You start with a vulnerable immune system and you start dropping this daily for ten or fifteen or twenty years and you can end up with very serious problems in the long run."

Havas’ report is available online at Havas participates in a Congressional briefing today (Wednesday) at 1 p.m. EST, 2247 Rayburn House Office Bldg., Washington, D.C.

Brad Behan/Lark Corbeil, Public News Service - NC