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Cell antennae: saving grace vs. health gamble

| 23 Mar 2012 | 10:00

As we outfit ourselves with wireless gadgets, so grows the need for bandwidth. Now churches are being approached by communication companies that want to affix antennae to their soaring steeples.

Saving grace Our church’s building is a 128-year-old “architecturally notable edifice” that is costly to maintain. So, when the option arose of receiving rental income from the installation of a cell-phone antenna in our steeple, we spent nearly three years exploring the issues. We found no study that proved that radio frequency emissions from a cell phone antenna were harmful, especially one which promised to be rated far below the limits allowed by the Federal Communications Commission. According to the World Health Organization, as cited by the American Cancer Society, “there is no convincing scientific evidence that the weak RF signals… cause adverse health effects.”


After much research, and the full support of the church, we entered negotiations to permit only one cell antennae installation at our location, with emissions, when actually tested, of less than one percent of those permitted by law. We refused to allow a diesel generator to be installed, promised ourselves that the income would go toward building improvements and mission, and made sure that the design would be compatible with our historic building. The outcome gives us hope that our structure will continue to get the care that it deserves.

The co-existence of antennae sites and the incidence of disease does not automatically imply cause and effect, even if the one follows the other in time. But, if there ever is conclusive scientific proof that cell antennae emissions are harmful, we will, of course, terminate our contract immediately.

I would advise anyone against excessive cell phone use. But I intend to continue limited use of mine. Therefore, and in light of current scientific evidence, I think it wrong to oppose the placement of necessary antennae that have met esthetic and emission standards like the ones that we have worked diligently on here.

Reverend Steven Peiffer Pastor, The Goshen United Methodist Church

Health gamble Last year I received notice of a public hearing for the approval of the installation of a “telecommunications facility within an existing church building.” The Goshen Methodist Church across the street from where I live was looking to lease out its bell tower, just as the Presbyterian Church had done, to a cell phone carrier, converting it into a cell tower.

I started reading articles, research papers, and watching videos. What I found was that this is a serious issue, that there is a very strong possibility that there are serious health issues associated with cell towers…we just don’t know, yet.

And the reason we don’t know is because there’s not been enough time or enough studies to determine one way or the other. The main health issues reported are cancer, brain tumors, leukemia, and other diseases that take 10 to 20 years to develop. Almost all peer reviewed studies purporting to show there are no health risks are based on studies of less than 10 years (the majority funded by telecommunications companies), so they serve no purpose. Statistics and several long-term studies, however, are starting to show there are serious issues.

One of the most compelling statistical anomalies was in the village Issifya in Israel where they started noticing many new cases of cancer. When a map of where these people lived was overlaid on a map of where the cell towers were, it revealed the town’s cancer clusters precisely around each antenna.

I think it’s wrong what these churches have done here in Goshen. They are taking a chance with our children’s health, especially since both host nursery schools and a third nursery school is just two blocks away. As the overwhelming consensus is that we just don’t know, they should err on the side of caution.

Keith Roddey, concerned parent