To the Editor: Cell Towers: A Threat to Community Health


The use of wireless technology has rapidly increased in the past years and has provided many benefits to our daily lives. However, along with the benefits there has been a dramatic increase in exposure to man-made microwave radiofrequency radiation (RFR) never before experienced by humans, animals and plants. We live surrounded by wireless radiation in our homes, work place, schools, and outdoor spaces. Many have whole body continuous exposures 24/7. The Federal Communication Commission (FCC) has assurance from the telecom industry that the technology is safe. FCC safety limits for human exposure were established in 1996 and have never been updated.

Cell towers continuously receive and transmit data using microwave radiofrequency radiation waves.  Wireless devices in our homes operate similarly when turned on. A typical family may have multiple layered sources of RFR in their home:  phones, lap tops, microwave ovens, WIFI, smart TV’s, gaming devices, baby monitors, house security systems, smart meters, and wearable devices.

RFR moves through most building materials and we are exposed to indoor and outdoor sources. It penetrates and is absorbed by the human body, flora and fauna. Children and the developing fetus are at greatest risk to the effects of this radiation.

There are more than 2,000 peer-reviewed abstracts documenting the effects of RFR exposures on human health and the environment.1 Cancer, neuropsychiatric disorders, autoimmune and metabolic disease, sleep disturbance and electromagnetic hypersensitivity are but a few of the effects of exposure.  Every organ system in the body may be affected.  In 2011, The World Health Organization classified microwave radiation as a class 2B carcinogen.2 Most countries have continued to update their safe exposure limits based on current science. The U.S. has not.  Radiofrequency radiation is a threat to our health and to the health of our ecosystem.

The Albemarle County School District allowed a large cell tower to be built on the campus of Albemarle High School.  The tower is less than 600 feet from the school building and approximately 55 feet from the AHS athletic fields. Children and staff are exposed to whole body radiofrequency radiation 30-40+ hours a week from the tower in addition to exposures from all sources within the building—multiple roof top antenna, whole building WIFI, lap tops, cell phones, whiteboards, etc.

In 2022, I measured extremely high levels of radiation on the school campus with my meter. I contacted school officials and asked that a formal evaluation be done to determine whether the school was safe for the children and staff. Albemarle County officials hired an engineering firm to conduct the evaluation. The engineer determined that the levels of radiation were within the FCC legal limits for RFR exposures set in 1996. They did not comment on the safety of the levels.

Two Building Biologists certified in electromagnetic radiation reviewed the evaluation, using updated safety standards adopted by many countries. They determined that high levels of radiation on the campus and in the school were unsafe for prolonged, continuous exposures of children and adults.  They expressed “extreme concern” for the safety of the children and staff at Albemarle High School.  To date Albemarle County School officials have not felt the need for additional action at the school.

T-Mobil, an American Telecom company with the controlling stockholder Germany’s Deutsche Telekom, released a document to their shareholders in 2000 titled “Mobile Telecommunications and Heath—Review of the current scientific research in view of precautionary health protection.” The report recommended the precautionary limit for humans near a base station cell tower to be 0.01W/m2 or 10,000  uW/m2.    

8.1 Precautionary Health Protection in Relation to Exposures to Electromagnetic Fields of Mobile Telecommunications   With mobile telecommunications we have to differentiate to exposure situations:  • exposure of residents near base stations • exposure of mobile users when using the devices. To limit exposure to an acceptable degree, if this is possible at all, there need to be different strategies for the two different exposure groups.   Exposures from Base Stations In humans, harmful organic effects of high frequency electromagnetic fields as used by mobile telecommunications have been demonstrated for power flux densities from 0.2W/m2 (see Chapter 7). Already at values of 0.1 W/m2 such effects cannot be excluded. If a security factor of 10 is applied to this value, as it is applied by ICNIRP and appears appropriate given the current knowledge, the precautionary limit should be 0.01W/m2. This should be rigorously adhered to by all base stations near sensitive places such as residential areas, schools, nurseries, playgrounds, hospitals and all other places at which humans are present for longer than 4 hours.  We recommend the precautionary limit of 0.01 W/m2 independent of the carrier frequency.” 3

  • T Mobil safe RFR levels (near a cell towers): (.01 W/m2) equals 10,000 uW/m2 – (2000)
  • Bioinitiative Report – safe RFR levels: 1 uW/m2 – (2012)
  • Building Biologist safe RFR levels: .1 – 10 uW/m2   extreme range > 1,000 uW/m2 – (2023)
  • Albemarle High School levels of RFR:  400,000 uW/m2 – (2023)

The citizens of Albemarle County must become informed about this issue. County officials are partnering with the telecom industry to add many large towers into an expanded area in Albemarle County near homes, businesses, and natural areas. Citizens will have no right to object to the placement of the towers. In the U.S., a citizen may not claim health effects as a reason for the local government to reject application for a cell tower placement.4

The County plans to erect many large cell towers that will blanket the area with additional microwave radiation that may cause many of us to become sick. Are we willing to jeopardize our health, and the health of our children and ecosystem, for perfect cell phone coverage?

Barbara Cruickshank
RN, MSN Community Health

How to reduce RFR in your home, per the Environmental Health Trust:


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