In Monday’s edition, Inside Towers broke the news of the industry’s vindication of the cancer-causing effects of a cell tower on school grounds. It was followed with a spirited ‘personal opinion’ piece, expressing righteous indignation of the original charge. In that editorial, Sprint was given a pass and even complimented on removing the tower in the face of stiff opposition.
Not all readers agreed with that assessment; Jonathan Adelstein, President and CEO of WIA was one.
Every morning, I look forward to Inside Towers’ daily news roundup. You have become truly a “must-read” with first-rate content and wide variation of stories bringing the entire industry up to speed.
That’s why I was so surprised on Monday to read Jim Fryer’s editorial praising Sprint’s decision to remove one of its towers from a school in Ripon, California. I share the view that we must remain responsive to local concerns, even if they are sometimes misguided. In this case, though, Sprint went too far in removing the tower when hearing out the community and explaining the science with patience and compassion for the children afflicted by cancer would have been a better response. We cannot afford to feed into the confusion and disinformation that surrounds these issues. The idea we must actually remove towers that are causing no harm – and in fact serving the community, public safety and the schoolchildren themselves – gives unnecessary credence to the argument that towers are unsafe, which will only make industry’s educational efforts harder.
There is not one shred of evidence that Sprint’s tower, or any tower, causes cancer. In fact, as the lead item in Monday’s Inside Towers said, an investigation into the causes of cancers in Ripon has shown that trichloroethylene in the water supply is the likely cause, obviously not the monopole at the elementary school, as I noted in a statement I made to Inside Towers when the story first ran. The Federal Communications Commission, the leading national authority on regulating radio frequency, sets the limits to which this tower adhered, based on sound science, indicating the tower had no health effects.
My heart goes out to the children and families in Ripon afflicted by cancer. It is natural that they would look for an explanation for such a painful tragedy. As a father myself, I understand the need to find answers. We view local communities as partners in our efforts to bring wireless services. First and foremost, we as an industry have a responsibility to listen to local concerns and approach them rationally. An ongoing dialogue is paramount, as is continuing to place great emphasis on education and information sharing.
But don’t worry, Jim, I will continue to wake up to Inside Towers every morning! Thank you for keeping us all up to date.
President and CEO
Wireless Infrastructure Association
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May 8, 2019