School board: No evidence cell tower will hurt kids

Back in the day, we weren’t completely sure the cellphones we occasionally hold to our ears weren’t slowly frying our brains with radio frequencies. We’re still not completely sure, but the controversy has faded away.

It’s back in Stillwater and Lake Elmo.

The Pioneer Press today follows up on a Stillwater Gazette article that the Stillwater area school district has OK’d construction of a cellphone tower at a junior high school in Lake Elmo, despite the opposition of a few parents who think it’s possible the towers — or more accurately: the RF — could be targeting their kids.

Parent Sean O’Loughlin led the opposition at a school board meeting earlier this summer.

“Inconclusive is not enough, in my opinion, when it comes to the children and staff of Oak-Land Junior High or any other school,” O’Loughlin said. “I call on the board to question the unseen in this case.”

Says the Gazette:

While not opposed to the cell tower because of the perceived health concerns, Board Member George Hoeppner was opposed to the school district doing so much business with cell phone companies.

“I received a letter from a citizen concerning school districts’ growing alliance with cell phone companies,” Hoeppner said. “We have allowed two cell phone towers on district property because the board heard no dissension from the community. Our core mission is teaching and learning, and in what way does having a cell aid in that mission?”

Hoeppner said he did not have any problem with the cell towers currently in the district, but voted to oppose construction of a new one at Oak-Land Junior High because there has been opposition to this tower. Final vote to approve construction by the board was 6-1.

Is a cellphone tower a threat, really? Here’s what the American Cancer Society says:

Some people have expressed concern that living, working, or going to school near a cell phone tower might increase the risk of cancer or other health problems. At this time, there is very little evidence to support this idea. In theory, there are some important points that would argue against cellular phone towers being able to cause cancer.

First, the energy level of radiofrequency (RF) waves is relatively low, especially when compared with the types of radiation that are known to increase cancer risk, such as gamma rays, x-rays, and ultraviolet (UV) light. The energy of RF waves given off by cell phone towers is not enough to break chemical bonds in DNA molecules, which is how these stronger forms of radiation may lead to cancer.

A second issue has to do with wavelength. RF waves have long wavelengths, which can only be concentrated to about an inch or two in size. This makes it unlikely that the energy from RF waves could be concentrated enough to affect individual cells in the body.

Third, even if RF waves were somehow able to affect cells in the body at higher doses, the level of RF waves present at ground level is very low – well below the recommended limits. Levels of energy from RF waves near cell phone towers are not significantly different from the background levels of RF radiation in urban areas from other sources, such as radio and television broadcast stations.

For these reasons, most scientists agree that cell phone antennas or towers are unlikely to cause cancer.

Related cellphones: Chinese City Launches Special Lane for Cellphone Addicts (Wall St. Journal).