Thursday, April 27, 2017

Dr. Ronald Powell's Letter To Maryland Teacher Union About Their Report Which "Minimizes The Risk" of Cell Towers on School Grounds

Subject: MSEA Analysis of the Health Effects of Cell Towers on School Grounds Understates the Health Risks

April 27, 2017

TO:   Maryland State Education Association (MSEA)
Betty Weller, President
Cheryl Bost, Vice President
Bill Fisher, Treasurer
Maura Taylor, Executive Assistant
Angela Booker, Assistant
Executive Director
David Helfman, Executive Director
Michelle Alexander, Member-at-Large
Richard Benfer, Member-at-Large
Joseph Coughlin, Member-at-Large
Jason Fahie, Member-at-Large
Anna Gannon, Member-at-Large
Lori Hrinko, Member-at-Large
David Nicholson, Member-at-Large
Ted Payne, Member-at-Large
Doug Prouty, Member-at-Large
Deborah Schaefer, Member-at-Large
Rowena Shurn, Member-at-Large
NEA Directors
Jacob Bauer Zebley, NEA Director
Doug Lea, NEA Director
Russell Leone, NEA Director
Dear MSEA Leaders,

My respects to all of you for your efforts to provide the best education possible for all of Maryland's children.

I am writing to you because I have just read a document on the MSEA web site called "New Business Item 14-05:  Analysis of Cell Towers on Public School Property in Maryland", dated May 2015.  If I understand correctly, this document was prepared at the direction of the MSEA.
As a scientist (Ph.D., Applied Physics), I was concerned to find that this document reflects multiple misunderstandings about the effects of radiofrequency electromagnetic radiation (RF) on biological systems.  RF is emitted by all wireless devices, including cell towers and cell phones.  Below, I list just some of the generic short comings in the MSEA analysis:
  • The MSEA analysis cites only three biomedical research papers, selected apparently to show a lack of evidence of biological effects from RF.  But in reality there are THOUSANDS of papers published by the international biomedical research community that have contributed to our understanding of the biological effects of RF.
  • The MSEA analysis cites none of the massive reviews of the biological research literature on the biological effects of RF.  Nor does the MSEA analysis cite the fact that the conclusions reached in those massive reviews indicate that RF, including cellular radiation specifically, presents significant biological risks.  Each of those massive reviews addresses hundreds to thousands of archival biomedical research papers.
  • The MSEA analysis relies heavily on comparisons of the strength of RF to the exposure limits set by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).  But those FCC limits are based on a false assumption that the only adverse biological effects produced by RF are caused by excessive heating from such exposure.  Those FCC limits do not protect against the biological effects caused by exposure to lower levels of RF on a chronic basis.  Such chronic exposure is the type produced by cell towers, which transmit continuously, 24 hours per day, every day of the year.
  • The MSEA analysis needs updating.  For example, the three papers cited in the MSEA analysis are all from 2010.  By that year, more than enough information had been published by the international biomedical research community to show that RF poses risks to health.  But in the seven years since then, even more biomedical research papers of relevance have been published and have further increased our understanding of the seriousness of those risks.
  • The MSEA analysis provides partial discussions of key concerns, while omitting the most important facts.  For example:
  • In the discussion of the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the conclusion reached by that organization in 2011 is omitted.  That conclusion was that RF, including specifically cellular radiation, was classified as a Group 2B carcinogen, which means a "possible human carcinogen".
  • In the discussion of damage to DNA, RF is said to be unable to cause cancer because it cannot damage DNA by ionization.  Omitted from that discussion is the fact that ionization is not the only mechanism by which DNA can be damaged.  The international biomedical research community is working hard to determine how radiofrequency electromagnetic radiation damages DNA and is making progress.
For a broader overview of the relationship between RF and health, please see the attached two documents.  Each document will point you to multiple references that dig deeper.
You should know about a new report, just issued in December 2016 by the Maryland Children's Environmental Health and Protection Advisory Council (CEHPAC).  The Council advises Maryland's Governor on the health of the environment in Maryland's schools.  The CEHPAC report recommends that Wi-Fi be phased out of Maryland's schools because of the health risks that Wi-Fi presents.  In this report, CEHPAC indicates that it will next address cell phones in the schools.
Whatever the status of the use of Wi-Fi and other wireless devices in Maryland's schools, adding to the RF in the schools by installing cell towers on school grounds is very much to be avoided.

Any payments offered to a school by the providers of cell towers, as inducements to accept the cell towers, pale in comparison to the health risks for everyone in the schools and for everyone in the surrounding communities.

If interest persists in having a cell tower on the grounds of a particular school, despite the health risks, I hope that the school involved will consider the following three suggestions.  The assistance of an attorney would be advisable for the second and third suggestions which affect the terms in the contract with the provider of the cell tower:
  • INSIST that the company providing the cell tower give the school written, and signed, documentation proving the safety of the cell tower for the health of children and adults.  The documentation should be provided 6 months in advance of any decision by the school to proceed, in order to provide time for review by experts on the impact of RF on health.  Remember that the burden of proof of safety is on the company providing the cell tower.  There is no burden of proof on the school to prove that the cell tower is not safe.
  • INSIST that the contract with the company providing the cell tower acknowledges that the company accepts liability for all harm done to the health of anyone caused by the RF that the cell tower produces.
  • INSIST that the contract with the company providing the cell tower states that the company will remove the cell tower, and all supporting equipment, from the school grounds, at no cost or penalty to the school, if the SCHOOL later determines that the cell tower presents a health risk.
If the company providing the cell tower insists that the cell tower is safe but WON'T accept the above three requirements, then you will have your answer about how confident the company is that the RF from the cell tower is truly safe.

For the sake of the health of the children in our schools, the health of the faculty and staff in our schools, and the health of the community surrounding our schools, DO REJECT the installation of cell towers on school grounds.

There is no need to make a mistake as tragic as permitting the installation of cell towers on school grounds.  There is no reason that our children should be subject to an uncontrolled biological experiment for which the unhappy outcome is already known, in return for money.  There is no reason for our schools to become viewed as hostile by parents and surrounding communities, as public awareness of the health risks of RF, and cell towers as sources of RF, continues to increase.

Please feel free to share this message and the attached two papers with anyone you wish.  And thank you for your attention.

Who am I?

I am a retired U.S. Government career scientist (Ph.D., Applied Physics, Harvard University, 1975).  During my Government career, I worked for the Executive Office of the President of the United States, the National Science Foundation, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology.  For those organizations, respectively, I addressed Federal research and development program evaluation, energy policy research, and measurement development in support of the electronics and electrical-equipment industries and the biomedical research community.  I currently interact with other scientists and with physicians around the world on the impact of electromagnetic fields on human health.


Ronald M. Powell, Ph.D.
20316 Highland Hall Drive
Montgomery Village, MD  20886-4007
United States of America
Tel:   (301) 926-7568

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