Wednesday, July 8, 2020
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Did cell tower cause death in school aquarium?

Probably not. But authorities are running tests on a cell tower installed right above Room 305 at Deering High School in Portland, Me., to see if the radiation from the tower might be the culprit responsible for the death of generations of fish in the aquarium in that room, used for marine ecology classes, the Press-Herald reports.

People don’t like to erect cell towers near schools because the jury’s still out on whether they increase health risks to people in a measurable, definitive way. But here, it’s unlikely the cell tower caused the fish to die: fish live under water, and the radio-frequency waves cell towers emit don’t generally penetrate through water, according to the article.

“Maybe if (the fish) spent a lot of time on the surface,” the paper quoted Ali Abedi as saying, when he considered how radiation from the cell tower could have even reached the fish. He’s a University of Maine associate professor of electrical and computer engineering who has done wireless communication research for almost 20 years, including for NASA, the Department of Defense, and the National Science Foundation. He confirmed that no conclusions could be reached unless experiments on the fish were done in a controlled, scientific manner. “I really doubt this is the cause of the fish dying.”

But it’s just high school science, and even the biology teacher admits this isn’t exactly a controlled study conducted with the aim of proving anything. That fact hasn’t stopped cell tower opponents from chiming in, though.

“We can’t just assume because the exposure is low from a cell tower that you’re OK,” said Joel Moskowitz, the director of the the Center for Family and Community Health at the University of California, Berkeley. A postdoctoral fellow in evaluation research and methodology at Northwestern University, he wants stricter cellphone and cell tower standards and warnings, based on his own review of the literature linking long-term proximity to cell towers with biological problems in humans. Even Mr Moskowitz said the cell tower on the roof above Room 305 didn’t likely kill the fish, since radiation from cell towers is directed outward, not downward.

In December, we reported that cell towers seem to increase long-term health risks to people who spend a lot of time near them, such as by living within a hundred meters of one, working eight hours a day with one radiating nearby, or attending a school with one on the grounds.

An extensive review of the literature published in the August 2013 issue of International Journal of Research in Engineering and Technology reveals that living near a cell tower is associated with an increased long-term risk of developing brain tumors because the radiation accumulates and damages the barrier between the blood flow and the brain. It also causes damage to cells in the brain that deal with learning, memory, and movement.

And depending on how close students spend a good portion of their day to the cell tower, other long-term risks include the following:

  • Within 100m: diabetes, heart disease, and hearing problems
  • Within 200m: respiratory problems, skin diseases, hair loss, anemia

In terms of immediate symptoms, other reports show the following, again based on how close to the cell tower people spend a good portion of their days:

  • Within 10m: nausea, appetite loss, visual disruptions, difficulty moving
  • 10–100m: depression, concentration problems, memory loss, dizziness
  • 100–200m: headaches, sleep disruption, discomfort feelings, skin problems
  • Beyond 200m: fatigue, especially among females
Paul Katula is the executive editor of the Voxitatis Research Foundation, which publishes this blog. For more information, see the About page.

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