The Maspeth cell tower: Should we allow ourselves to take this risk? - JuniperCivic.com
Serving Middle Village and Maspeth since 1938.

Originally published in the March 2008 Juniper Berry Magazine

The Maspeth cell tower: Should we allow ourselves to take this risk?

When I first moved to Maspeth in 1980, the Betts Avenue incinerator spewed black clouds of toxic chemicals into the air and my wife and I would find the soot clinging to the clothes that we hung on our backyard clothesline. Thankfully, we no longer face this hazard as these stacks are now dormant.

Maspeth sits below the air routes of JFK and LaGuardia airports. This pollution rains down on our town every 30 seconds or so. We have congested expressways that contribute heavily to the air pollution in our neighborhood and Grand Avenue is a parking lot because of the trucks that clog this main artery through town. All of these things were brought upon our once peaceful community by previous administrations. No one seemed to care or study the harmful effects that these conditions would wreak. Act now, worry later was their method of thinking.

Now we are presented with another intrusion ‒ a cell tower on top of a 2-story home on 72nd Place. No one is denying that in this day and age, cell phones are vital. However, the cell phone companies are denying that these structures pose health risks to neighbors, despite studies having raised questions as to the validity of their claims (see sidebar).

This site is in close proximity to many homes with children and Maspeth Town Hall, which has very active youth programs. Stop and Shop on Grand Avenue was suggested as an alternative location by Assemblywoman Marge Markey. There are many homes as well as the School of Heroes in the vicinity of Stop and Shop so her reasoning is questionable and deeply flawed. The question we must ask is Should we expose our children and ourselves to this radiation when so much uncertainty exists? I believe firmly that the answer is a resounding no.

Let's not repeat the mistakes of those who came before us. Instead, let's learn an important lesson from them. Cell towers do not belong in our residential community of Maspeth. It will destroy the streetscape, quality-of-life, property values, and quite possibly, our health.

Sidebar:

From: Ossining Citizens for a Safer Environment

There is a large body of internationally accepted scientific evidence which points to the existence of non-thermal effects of microwave radiation, which is what cell towers give off. The issue at the present time is not whether such evidence exists, but rather what weight to give it.

Internationally acknowledged experts in the field of RF research have shown that RF of the type used in digital cellular antennas and phones can have critical effects on cell cultures, animals, and people in laboratories and have also found epidemiological evidence (studies of communities, not in the laboratory) of serious health effects at "non-thermal levels," where the intensity of the radiation was too low to cause heating. They have found:

• Increased cell growth of brain cancer cells

• A doubling of the rate of lymphoma in mice

• Changes in tumor growth in rats

• An increased number of tumors in rats

• Increased breaks in double and single stranded DNA, our genetic material

• 2 to 4 times as many cancers in Polish soldiers exposed to RF

• More childhood leukemia in children exposed to RF

• Changes in sleep patterns and REM type sleep

• Headaches caused by RF exposure

• Neurologic changes including:

o Changes in the blood-brain barrier

o Changes in cellular morphology (including cell death)

o Changes in neural electrophysiology (EEG)

o Changes in neurotransmitters (which affect motivation and pain perception)

o Metabolic changes (of calcium ions, for instance)

o Cytogenetic effects (which can affect cancer, Alzheimer's, neurodegenerative diseases)

• Decreased memory, attention, and slower reaction time in school children

• Retarded learning in rats indicating a deficit in spatial "working memory"

• Increased blood pressure in healthy men

• Damage to eye cells when combined with commonly used glaucoma medications