Proposed cell tower raises health concerns

To the Editor:

A neighbor recently brought to my attention the fact that Altamont is planning to allow the installation of a cell tower. Compared to the one already up on the hill on Berne-Altamont Road, this one will be much closer to the center of the village. Aesthetic considerations are the least of my concerns compared to the health implications that will only emerge in the public consciousness after it’s too late, well after the deal has been struck.

As a holistic physician who has always kept up with cutting-edge developments in matters of human health, I am deeply concerned about preliminary indications that EMF (electromagnetic field) pollution, one form of which is produced by cell towers, is fast becoming one of the more pressing health issues of our time. The safety of the new 5G technology is already raising alarm bells around the globe.

As is typically the case, you’re never going to find reference to these potential dangers in the mainstream media. It will receive serious attention only after it has become a full-blown scandal.

We Americans tend to eagerly embrace every shiny new trend without much caution or forethought, only to find out in time that it wasn’t as safe or as wonderful as we thought it would be. We fall for the glitz, glamour, and filthy lucre, but eventually wind up crying foul as if we didn’t know what we were getting ourselves into.

But we’ve been through this before, with tobacco companies that swore to the American public that smoking was not a health concern, even though they concealed evidence to the contrary, and with a multitude of drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration that had to be taken off the market because they were subsequently found to be dangerous.

Remember how Vioxx, a popular anti-inflammatory drug, was finally pulled from pharmacies only after it led to an estimated 60,000 cardiac-related deaths in the United States? Well, I do.

My wife and I originally moved to Altamont because of its old-world charm and so that we could raise our kids in a healthy environment. For newer residents, a cell tower represents a serious threat to both of those aspirations.

Our kids are now grown and have moved away, but I wonder how today’s young parents will feel someday when the damning evidence is finally acknowledged, much too late to undo the damage that has been done, and when they find out that Altamont Village embraced the new technology for a few thousand lousy dollars.

To the naysayers who claim that there is no proof of harm, there is most definitely evidence of harm. And since when did the default scientific position become, “We assume all new products and services are harmless until the consumer can prove otherwise?”

In my world, this comes into direct conflict with the physician’s prime directive to do no harm. Should the citizens of Altamont hold themselves to a lower standard? Shouldn’t it be the other way around?

Technologies implemented on such a large scale with government’s blessing should always be considered potentially unsafe until proven safe. The burden of proof should fall to those who wish to profit from new technologies.

As for evidence of harm, I will provide just a small sampling here, but there’s plenty more if you’re willing to dig for it. Thousands of independent studies have already linked radiation exposure from cell phones to a number of serious illnesses, including cancer, infertility, heart disease, birth defects, memory problems, and insomnia.

The new fifth-generation wireless systems, known as 5G, will up the ante by making our wireless devices even more powerful and up to 100 times faster. Our exposure to electromagnetic radiation levels will certainly increase.

More than 180 scientists and doctors from 35 countries have called for a moratorium on 5G technology until its true effects can be properly evaluated. Researchers from the Ramazzini Institute in Italy recently released the findings of a study that indicates cell-tower radiation is associated with certain types of cancers in lab animals. What’s more disturbing is that another study conducted by the U.S. National Toxicology Program has also reported finding the same types of cancers in lab rats.

According to our own David Carpenter, M.D., former dean of the School of Public Health at the University at Albany, “This study raises concerns that simply living close to a cell tower will pose threats to human health. Governments need to take measures to reduce exposures from cell tower emissions. Cell towers should not be near schools, hospitals or people’s homes. Public health agencies need to educate the public on how to reduce exposure from all sources of wireless radiofrequency radiation — be it from cell towers or cell phones or Wi-Fi in schools.”

I am disappointed that I had to find out through the grapevine about an initiative that will profoundly affect the health of Altamont residents for decades to come. Given the gravity of the stakes involved, each resident should have been explicitly notified of this proposed plan

I urge all concerned Altamontians to make your opinions known, both here in The Enterprise and especially when the Altamont Planning Board takes up the matter at its next meeting on Monday, Jan. 28, at 7 p.m.

You have to ask yourself: Is better wi-fi and cell phone service worth the risks to your health and your children’s health?

And I pose these questions to planning board members and to all Altamont Village officials who will be involved in the fate of this initiative. Do you want to be responsible for approving a cell tower knowing that it cannot be undone for another 45 years, and knowing the potential harm that it may cause? Are you going to sell your souls and the future health of Altamontians to our new corporate masters for a few thousand bucks?

Larry Malerba


Editor’s note: See related story.

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