Each day, the average person spends just over three hours looking at a cell phone, about five hours working on a computer and a whopping six hours parked in front of a TV screen.
We love our information — of that, there’s certainly no doubt.
But how is our screen habit affecting our health?
Beyond eye strain, weight gain and vision problems, a much more destructive process is hard at work behind the scenes.
What is it?
Electromagnetic frequency radiation.
These days, EMF, as it’s most often referred to, is present almost anywhere you venture.
From the signal of your ever-present cell phone, to your desktop at work, your smart TV and even the radio in your car, EMF is nearly inescapable — and so are the cell towers that make this constant communication possible.
While we may never give a second thought to the mechanisms facilitating our lightening-fast information obsession, they’re affecting us more than we care to realize.
Worldwide, about four million cellular base stations dot the landscape, and for every ONE base station, there are roughly 1 THOUSAND sub stations.
You do the math…
We’ve currently got billions of radiation-emitting towers peppering the globe.
But what exactly are these radiation-emitting towers? How do they function? And why are they so detrimental to our health?
We’ll discuss all that, but first, let’s get the basics out of the way…
Cell Phone Tower Components
While there are several different types of cell phone towers, every tower on the planet features the same basic components. At each cell site, you’ll find:
Tower: The tower structure exists in several different forms. Lattice towers, monopoles, guyed towers or stealth towers are implemented based on location and zoning ordinances. Varying in height from 50 to 300 feet, the purpose of the tower itself is to elevate antennas high enough to transmit signals.
Antennas: As you might imagine, antennas transmit signals to and from mobile devices and other cell phone towers within a designated geographical area. Each cell tower can house antennas from multiple different carriers. Sometimes, you might see as many as 15 antennas on a single tower!
Base Transmitter Station: Located at the base of the structure, a transmitter station houses radio and network equipment necessary for communications. This equipment typically includes a system controller, combiners, signal amplifiers and transceivers. Essentially, the base station is the link between the core network and smaller sub-networks.
Generator: Gas- or diesel-powered, a generator provides backup power in the event of a power outage.
Utilities: These lines or cables run to and from a tower site and are installed by each carrier who owns an antenna on the tower. Utilities are designed to complement the individual technologies each carrier offers its customers. These typically include power lines, phone service lines, and often, fiber cables, depending on transmission speed requirements.
How Cell Phone Towers Work
Now that we know the basic operational components of a cell phone tower, it’s time to put those components into action. How exactly do your cell phone and a tower transmit and receive the information you see and hear? Let’s take a peek.
First, the location of each cell tower is highly strategic — designated according to a hexagonal cell system.
Wireless network engineers measure, design and implement these cell systems to meet service demands in each designated area.
Each hexagonal cell overlaps slightly with its neighboring cells to ensure you don’t experience a dropped call while moving between cells.
The more cell phone users in a particular area, the more cell towers you’ll see.
The location of each tower is determined with one basic aim: to create a radio access network, or RAN.
This RAN creates an invisible communication network between each cell tower within a specified radius. It’s how towers talk to one another — and to your cell phone.
To get an idea of what this looks like, envision a sort of vast, invisible honeycomb blanketing the surface of just about any populated location within the country.
Within each hexagonal cell is a cell tower or base station.
And the areas with no service? That means there’s a gap in the hexagonal pattern, through which electromagnetic radio waves are not currently traveling.
So how does cellular communication occur between towers? And how is communication transferred to your phone?
Your cell phone is essentially a two-way radio: it has both a radio transmitter and a radio receiver.
This is how information travels from your phone to a cell phone tower, to the phone, site, or app you wish to reach — and vice versa, of course.
Each time you use your cell phone, its transmitter sends up a signal via electromagnetic radio waves.
Your phone already knows where the nearest tower is located, and how strong a potential connection will be — you see this in the form of signal strength, or how many “bars” your phone has in a particular area.
When your phone sends up that radio signal, it’s essentially telling the nearest tower where it is, and what it needs to do.
This signal is then picked up by the antennas perched at the top of the tower.
Once the antenna picks up the signal from your phone, it assigns your phone’s signal a unique radiofrequency (RF) channel that does not belong to anyone else.
This radiofrequency channel is how voice and cellular data are transferred back and forth across the network.
The RF channel then translates and transfers your voice or cellular data through a colossal network of cables and fibers to a wireless access point which is connected to switching center.
If you’ve ever seen an old-fashioned switchboard, our modern-day switching centers are strikingly similar — just without the hoards of ladies manually flicking switches to connect calls.
Today, this process occurs without manual intervention. Convenient.
Once your data has made its way to the switching center, it is typically routed to an underground line through which it travels to reach its destination (the person or app you want to contact).
If you’re communicating with another cell phone, the data will leave the underground wire and travel to another tower and out through that tower’s transmitter via radio waves.
If you’re communicating with a landline, the data will remain in the physical wires until it reaches its destination.
Mobile Tower Radiation Range
With all of these electromagnetic radio waves traveling around at (literally) light-speed, it begs the question:
How much radiation are we, the people, actually intercepting?
How far do the signals extend?
On average, 45 miles.
While the signal does weaken the farther you are from the base tower, there’s no arguing how powerful its radiation really is.
And if you live and work in an urban or suburban area, you’re in the path of dozens of these ridiculously powerful towers at all times.
Each cell phone tower — based on the number of channels it contains, and the connection speed of its carriers — can handle a specific number of radio signals at once.
Depending on the tower, it may handle as many as 1,000 calls or data transfers simultaneously. Cellular base stations transmit signals day and night, even when no one is using a cell phone.
Now, imagine all of this high-frequency radiation flying back and forth, literally all over the place, all of the time, day and night, almost everywhere you go.
Doesn’t sound very safe, does it?
That’s because it isn’t….as you’re about to find out.
Cell Tower Radiation Health Effects
So what exactly happens to us in the midst of all this 24/7 radiation flying around at light-speed?
Nothing good, to say the least.
According to the vast majority of published scientific studies, if you live or work near a cell phone tower, your likelihood of experiencing deleterious physical effects rises substantially.
Although cell phones have been around since the 1980s, the first population study wasn’t conducted until 2002 — when citizens and physicians finally began seeking answers to unexplained, and often debilitating symptoms.
What were the complaints?
And what did researchers find? Individuals reported:
- Unexplained fatigue
- Difficulty sleeping
- General feelings of discomfort
- Concentration problems
- Memory loss (primarily short-term)
- Vision problems
- Irritability or changes in normal behavior patterns
- Hearing problems
- Skin issues
- Cardiovascular complications
- Dizziness or vertigo
- Appetite loss
- Fertility problems
In subjects living less than 10 meters from a tower, symptoms were most prevalent, and subjects experienced the widest range of adverse effects.
In subjects living greater than 300 meters from a tower, unexplained fatigue was the most noticeable symptom. Interestingly, women reported both a wider range and greater intensity of symptoms.
As if those symptoms aren’t enough, researchers are discovering vastly more damaging occurrences on a cellular level, too.
There have even been claims (still to be verified) of mobile tower radiation increasing the risk of oral problems
Negative Biological Effects of EMF Radiation on the Human Body
In a recent study conducted by the Cancer and Radiation Biology Laboratory at Mizoram University in India, researchers found abnormal changes to blood cell structure in individuals living in close proximity to mobile phone masts. Health risks included:
- A substantial increase in blood cell micronuclei (indicating chromosomal abnormalities).
- Increased lipid peroxidation (indicating cell membrane damage and free radical formation).
- Reduced levels of naturally occurring antioxidants (necessary for protection against free radical damage).
To sum it up, if you live close to a cell tower, you increase your chances of developing DNA damage.
This damage often goes unrepaired due to reduced levels of antioxidants, thus, increasing your chance of developing health issues, among which cancer is thought to be one of the most prevalent.
If that’s not enough, here’s another one:
In 2018, researchers concluded a two-year study in which they observed the neurological effects of electromagnetic frequencies on school children aged 13 to 16 whose schools were near cell phone towers.
Students with pre-existing cell phone and WiFi use were excluded from the study, as were students who exhibited pre-existing illness, medication use, or a history of attention or anxiety problems.
What did the researchers find?
Using the Cambridge Neuropsychological Test Automated Battery for evaluation, researchers observed significant delays and impairments in spatial working memory, motor skills and attention span when compared to students exposed to lower levels of EMF radiation.
Essentially, the students were experiencing cognitive decline simply because they spent substantial time in schools located near cell phone towers.
And the truly disturbing part?
The current Federal Communications Commission’s safety guidelines for 30-minute EMF exposure are over 100 times higher than what these students were exposed to during the study!
Cell Tower Radiation and Increased Risk of Abnormal Cellular Activity
A 2004 review published in the International Journal of Cancer Prevention examined the incidence of cancer among people living in close proximity to cell phone towers.
What did researchers learn?
Among people living within 350 meters of a tower, there were 129 cancer cases for every 10,000 people.
And among people living greater than 350 meters from a cell tower, there were between 16 and 31 cancer cases.
That’s a 300% to 700% increase!
Their conclusion? A strong association exists between increased cancer incidence and residing in close proximity to a cell phone tower.
The very same review also noted that subjects residing within 500 meters of a tower for a duration of five years tripled their cancer risk compared to inhabitants who resided farther from the tower.
Not convinced yet? Here are a few more:
In a 2015 study, researchers observed a statistically significant increase in levels of HbA1c among students whose schools were near cell phone towers. Increased HbA1c (glycated hemoglobin) levels are a strong indication of a person’s risk of developing type II diabetes.
In another 2015 study conducted in India, researchers found that subjects living near mobile base stations had higher levels of genetic damage.
They concluded that frequent cell phone use, frequency range and proximity to mobile towers were strong indicators of whether or not a person will develop genetic damage — potentially leading to cancer formation.
In a 2012 study, Egyptian researchers found that proximity to cell phone towers reduced teens’ production of critical hormones, including those secreted by the thyroid, pituitary and adrenal glands.
In essence, EMF radiation interferes with critical adolescent developmental processes.
What’s the takeaway?
Overall, scientists concluded that symptoms bear a striking resemblance to what 1950s Soviet researchers dubbed, “radiofrequency radiation sickness,” or “microwave sickness syndrome.”
While Soviet researchers found that the syndrome is reversible during its early stages, it proved lethal with long-term exposure.
Other Potential Side Effects
Think humans are the only ones suffering the side effects of mobile tower radiation?
Radiation from cell phone towers affects nearly all living entities.
Scientists have discovered increased markers of stress in plant species living near cell phone towers, along with changes in cell growth patterns and gene expression.
What about mammals? Winged things? Reptiles? Marine life?
They feel the effects, too.
Just as humans have a higher risk of developing health issues as a result of high levels of EMF exposure, so do animals, reptiles, marine creatures and avian species.
As well, man-made EMF fields disrupt species-specific navigation and migration cycles, as these creatures can no longer sense the earth’s naturally-occurring magnetic field, which has, for eons, guided them toward their destinations.
Even insects experience physical decline with prolonged exposure to radiofrequency waves.
Most insect studies cite reproductive complications and developmental abnormalities — effects strikingly similar to those experienced by mammalian species.
Suffice it to say nothing is immune.
While all of this sounds rather bleak, you CAN take measures to protect yourself.
By measuring the strength of the radiation around you — and adjusting your lifestyle accordingly.
How to Measure Mobile Tower Radiation
An EMF meter is a highly useful tool used to detect electromagnetic radiation strength. However, not all meters are created equal because not all radiation is created equal.
Electromagnetic fields are divided into three types:
- Electric field: Low-frequency EMF is generated by sources like power transformers and home appliances like your microwave.
- Radiofrequency: High-frequency EMF is generated by communications devices like cell phone towers, mobile phones, computers and WiFi routers.
- Magnetic field: This type involves the earth’s natural magnetic field, but is also generated by a buildup of electricity in the atmosphere such as during a thunderstorm.
When we measure EMF radiation using a meter, we’re measuring strength rather than frequency.
Measuring frequencies allows us to determine possible sources of the radiation around us, but we primarily need to ascertain radiation strength to take the appropriate protective measures.
Keep in mind that the higher the quality of EMF meter, the more precisely and accurately it will detect magnetic field strength.
When selecting a meter, it’s important to choose one capable of measuring all three types of radiation: electric field, radiofrequency and magnetic field.
Because electronic devices emit different types of radiation, a comprehensive meter is necessary to achieve the most accurate measurement of the radiation strength around you.
A high-quality EMF meter will have a dedicated setting for each type of radiation.
So, once you’ve selected your meter, it’s time to start taking your readings! Here’s how to check mobile tower radiation levels:
1. Survey the general area
Begin by setting your meter to the magnetic field setting. Because almost every electronic device emits a magnetic field, this setting will give you a broad reading which you can narrow down later.
With pen and paper in hand, use your meter to take a survey of the surrounding area by slowly sweeping the meter back and forth.
2. Pinpoint radiation sources
Once you’ve detected a spike in the reading, move in the direction of the spike. Follow the reading until you’ve located a definite radiation source. Once located, move around the source while noting the average reading. You can record this using your pen and paper.
If the object you are measuring does not have wireless capabilities, you’ll only need to measure and record magnetic field strength and electric field strength. You can do this by adjusting the setting of your meter accordingly.
If, however, your chosen object has wireless capabilities, you’ll need to measure its radiofrequency radiation as well.
3. Record peak RF readings
When measuring radiofrequency radiation, you’ll want to keep an eye out for peak readings only. Because information is sent back and forth via “packets,” radio waves emit radiation in pulses rather than in a constant stream.
Be sure to wait long enough to detect a spike in the reading, or you’ll end up with an artificially low measure.
Keep in mind that some devices emit just one type of radiation, while other devices emit all three.
To get the most accurate picture of the major radiation sources in your home, you’ll need to test each radiation type in every area you’d like to read.
Once you’ve got your readings, it’s time to start taking measures to reduce your exposure. You might be surprised at just how much better you feel and function!
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