What’s On

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It’s always amusing to see complaints about health concerns over cell network base stations, as they seem to follow proposed towers.

The recent article about the Dido Valley tower, (“Pros of cell masts,” Echo, May 16), generated the expected irate letters the next week, May 23.

One complainant was Dr Jason Orton, who advised residents to educate themselves about these base stations. He is not a medical doctor (neither am I) but has a PhD in archaeology, so would know a thing or two about credible research and studies.

The peer-reviewed research done by both medical and RF engineering fields is overwhelming in failing to identify any significant harmful effects. There is very little relevance in the conspiracy theory of comparing it to the cartel actions of the tobacco industry.

The actual science behind the concerns is very simple. Ever since a nuclear bomb was dropped on Hiroshima the word “radiation” seems to have taken on a sinister connotation. In fact the very paper you are reading is emitting electromagnetic radiation (otherwise known as “light”).

Cell networks operate at a frequency in the non-ionising spectrum. This means that they are not capable of breaking the chemical bonds of atoms (which a nuclear-type bomb would do). All that happens is the energy can heat up matter a bit. By “a bit” we are talking insignificant amounts.

A cell network base station transmits from 30 to 100W, and is designed to spread over a large area and you can’t get close to the actual transmitter (by legislation). A cellphone itself is about 0.6 to 3W, but you obviously can be right next to it.

To illustrate how small the amounts are, a microwave oven is about 750W, yet we are happy to have them in our kitchens.

The irony of the complaint is that having decent cell network base station coverage means your cellphone can operate at a lower power. If you choose to be a cellphone owner, then having a cellphone tower nearby means you will therefore be exposed to less radiation.

From his company contact details, I see Dr Orton chooses to have a cellphone.

My suggestion to residents complaining about cell network base stations is to focus on the aesthetics and visual impact of them. The health aspects have been studied extensively and are well regulated.