Posted by Kate Kheel, Nov. 4th, 2017
Letter from Ronald N. Kostoff, Ph.D. to the Montgomery County Council on November 1, 2017
Dear Montgomery County Council Members,
I have been informed that Montgomery County is considering approval of the installation of small cell towers throughout the County, including up and down residential streets, starting with Potomac, MD and Germantown, MD. I would like to offer my perspective on this proposal.
Over the past decade, I have been performing studies on causes and treatments of chronic diseases. Much of the focus has emphasized identifying the causes of these diseases, and their specific impacts. The most comprehensive of the studies was a book titled Pervasive Causes of Disease,
and identified ~800 contributing factors that impacted more than a threshold number of the ~4000 diseases examined.
One of the specific factors I have been examining in detail is non-ionizing radiation. Earlier this year, I published an invited book chapter on the health impacts of non-ionizing radiation combined with other stimuli, both toxic and non-toxic. This chapter is attached.
For non-ionizing radiation in the power frequency band (~60Hz) and radiofrequency bands heavily used today (900 Mhz-cell phones and 2.45Ghz-WiFi), the biomedical literature is clear. Heavy exposure of humans to this radiation for extended periods of time can be lethal, and exposure of test animals to non-ionizing radiation in isolation can be lethal.
As my book chapter shows, when non-ionizing radiation at the above frequencies is combined with other toxic stimuli, there is a strong synergy that results. In some cases (depending on intensity, frequency, and duration), neither partner to the combination will exhibit effects when used in isolation, but will exhibit highly toxic effects when used in combination. In most cases, the adverse effects of the combination will be much more highly toxic than the adverse effects of each partner used in isolation. Thus, non-ionizing radiation in the above frequency bands is not only toxic/lethal in its own right, but it serves as a promoter/enabler/enhancer of the intrinsic toxicity of other stimuli.
For 5G, the proposed frequency band (~3Ghz-30Ghz, and higher) is in the millimeter-wave range, and has had little safety testing done, even in isolation. There has been no long-term testing, and no testing on these frequencies in combination with other stimuli, which is the real-world condition.
Long-term testing on humans is required for two reasons. First, latency periods for serious diseases can be measured in decades, in many cases. For smoking, latency periods between initiation of smoking and lung cancer is between two and three decades, and for other types of cancers, latency times between onset of cause and eventual cancer can range up to five decades. Latency periods for neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, can be five decades or more, considering the advanced ages at which they occur. Alarmingly, Hardell has found that even after the relatively short period of a decade of ‘heavy’ cell phone use (~30 min/day), certain types of brain cancers for adults doubled, and for adults who started using cell phones as teenagers, these brain cancer rates quintupled! One can only imagine the results after two or three decades of ‘heavy’ cell phone use.
Second, animal tests are not adequate. Animals are different from human beings biologically, and animal tests are usually performed under very controlled conditions, where the non-ionizing radiation is applied either in isolation or with one other toxic stimulus. Humans experience myriad toxic stimuli in parallel over their lifetime, as I have shown in my book, and the complex combinations of toxic stimuli bear little resemblance to the pristine test conditions applicable to animals. Allowing 5G cell towers to be constructed with essentially no safety testing having been performed would be the height of irresponsibility!
The usual excuse for inaction on opposition to cell tower construction of any type, including 5G, is the statement from the Telecommunications Act of 1996 that health reasons can not be used as a basis to halt tower construction. This, in my view, is an abdication of responsibility of elected officials.
Suppose the Federal government passed a law stating that herbicides could be sprayed over populated areas by contractors, and these sprayings could not be opposed for health reasons. If a local company wanted to initiate daily sprayings of Agent Orange over Montgomery County, would the members of the County Council allow it, despite what the law stated? Would the residents allow it, despite what the law stated? I suspect there would be an armed insurrection to block the spraying. Yet, cell tower developers are proposing to ‘spray’ a highly toxic substance (non-ionizing radiation in RF bands) over Montgomery County, and the decision-makers act as if they have no options.
At some point in this one-sided battle between the wireless technology vendors and the defenseless public, someone has to take a stand. Let Montgomery County at this time serve as the Waterloo for the 5G onslaught!
Dr. Ronald N. Kostoff
[Ronald N. Kostoff, Ph.D. is a Research Affiliate in the School of Public Policy at the Georgia Institute of Technology. The book chapter that is referenced in his message above was co-authored with Clifford G.Y. Lau and appears in Microwave Effects on DNA and Proteins, edited by C.D. Geddes and published in 2017.
By Alison Main
“And in the naked light I saw
Ten thousand people, maybe more
People talking without speaking
People hearing without listening
People writing songs that voices never share
And no one dared
Disturb the sound of silence.”
Simon & Garfunkel, The Sound of Silence (1964)
It was a hot summer night in 2007. Walking down the sultry streets of downtown Manhattan with my two best girlfriends, en route to dinner and drinks, one of my friends whipped out her iPhone. The very first iPhone. The iPhone that kept her squatting overnight, outside the 5th Avenue Apple Store, along with thousands of other burgeoning futurists. The iPhone that represented both trophy and promise of our digitally interconnected destinies. And it was all hers.
As she drew this obsessively acquired beacon out of her handbag, we “ooooh’d” and “aaaah’d.” We asked for tutorials. We concealed our envy. We requested play time, which she graciously granted. My fingertips danced over the magical glowing screen, delicately activating cartoon-like buttons that drew me out of my physical space and into cyber space. After bouncing from email app to text to web, I reluctantly handed the iPhone back to her. As she basked in her coveted possession, my second friend abruptly halted, looked straight at me, and in a severe tone, directed, “You. Alison. Never get that phone.”
“But why?” I petulantly inquired.
“Because you will do nothing else for the rest of your life, except hit: Check mail. Check mail. Check mail.”
Did I heed her warning? Of course not. Who listens to sage advice when omnipotent ad agencies so clearly teach us how to be “smart?”
Two years later, bored with my antiquated flip phone, failing in coolness factor while I attended media conferences and launched digital campaigns, I relented and bought my own iPhone. I reasoned with myself… this was solely a professional purchase. I needed to be accessible to my demanding clients. I needed to understand mobile marketing strategy. I needed to check the weather every five seconds (um, wait).
My prophetic friend wasn’t wrong. And not just about me. But as it turns out, she was right about everyone. What she glimpsed within me was the same latent existential anxiety we all carry within ourselves. As we wander through spaces and places, both bustling and quiet…we are all fundamentally afraid to be alone and unloved. And we’ll grasp at anything to pretend we are not.
Now, instead of a moon-shaped night light, we have a Netflix-streaming tablet. Instead of a pink cotton security blanket, we have a mobile device nestled under our pillows. And that’s just the beginning. There’s a reason you can’t stop checking your phone for messages, or scrolling through your Facebook timeline, or posting your pictorial life on Instagram. And it’s more than mere addiction. It’s one emotionally stimulating hit after the next, which breaks down to the following illusion: Someone texted me. Someone “Liked” me. I am loved. I am not alone.
But, there’s no human love nor authentic connection in a digital ping.
Companies selling Virtual Reality (VR) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) products and services utilize some pretty slick psychological marketing strategies, designed to strike at our core vulnerabilities. If you’re “without” in this world, you can be “with” in their make-believe world. Strap on a VR headset, and suddenly, you’re not a socially awkward companionless kid who is teased and mocked in school. Rather, you’re transformed into a medieval knight with a powerful sword, slashing every enemy in your path, about to rescue your beautiful princess. Who would consciously choose to emerge from virtual reality and into reality when those worlds are so starkly different? In the material world, you’re a pariah. In the fake world, you’re king. The problem is, the adoring courtesans aren’t real. And you can’t put a tangible glass slipper on an avatar.
AI promises to give us solutions to problems Silicon Valley cogs have cunningly created. You’re desirous and lonely? Order a sex bot. You’re elderly and childless? Hire a robot caretaker. You’re overworked with a toddler? Employ an automated nanny. But generations before us figured out how to hook up, take care of their parents, and raise their kids, without a team of robots at the helm. What makes us so exponentially overburdened that we cannot do the same?
People have been addicted to tobacco, drugs, alcohol, sugar, sex, and junk food for decades. But until digital tech and virtual reality, there’s been no other invention in the history of humankind that has so strategically manipulated our base human fear of being alone. From mobile to social to IoT, these technologies and networks trick our brains into thinking we’re connected to each other. When, in actuality, we’re not.
We’re convinced that texting and emojis are drawing us closer, but we’re forgetting the energetic resonance of our friends’ voices and the comfort of our parents’ smiles. We think virtual gaming is fostering new communities, but our ghost-selves are wandering like holograms through pixelated forests, while our physical bodies are starved for grounding on the earth around a lively campfire. We think Jetsons-like automatons will offer us domestic peace and security, but we’re neglecting the healing power of human touch, and the soulful nourishment of a meal prepared and shared together as a communal unit. And this disconnect is dangerous. Not just physiologically and environmentally. But, culturally, psychologically, and behaviorally. Because, when we take our human hearts and merge them with machines, where does our love go?
I once took myself to a remote cottage in upstate New York for a week. Perhaps the word “cottage” is a bit too generous, as the structure was a tiny converted workman’s shed, with dirt and gravel for flooring, clans of spiders and stink bugs as roommates, and chickens for neighbors. There was no Internet, no computer, no TV, no landline, no people, but strangely, I did have cell reception. And as such, I relegated my mobile use to “emergencies only” (i.e. rabid racoon attack, black bear at my doorstep, rattlesnake in my bed). This required me to keep my phone turned off, hidden from plain sight, lest I trip over a goat while narrating my painful solitude to a friend on iMessage.
On the first night, after sunset, I peered outside the window into … nothingness. No glow from a neighbor’s porch light, no twinkle from distant street lamps, no flash from passing car headlights. Just pitch-black nothingness outside. And me, alone, inside.
It was terrifying. I tried to sit with the discomfort, with the fear, and the anxiety. I tried to read a book, but I couldn’t concentrate. I tried to write with pen on paper, but my eloquent words were blocked by my racing thoughts. I began to cry, then weep, then despair. So I turned on my cell phone, and I called a friend for support. She imparted great wisdom during that conversation, but one sentence has remained with me for years since. As I cried inconsolably, she said, “Alison, this is where you meet yourself.”
And she was right.
As Shakespeare wrote, “This above all, to thine own self be true.” Which means, do not engage in self-deception. But isn’t that what we’re all doing by living vicariously through our digital identities and cyborg fantasies? For how busy and productive we are, our world is becoming far too silent, save for the buzz of network servers, and the hum of mechanized devices. Between headsets, earbuds, microchips, and VR visors, we are isolating inward, instead of expanding outward. But, I’d rather have a good friend tease me for drinking too much coffee, than have a smart-bot remember which espresso roast I order. I’d rather feel heartbroken from losing a loved one, than never feel love to begin with. And I’d rather appreciate the value of presence than distract myself from the reality of absence.
I’m not advocating that we all remove ourselves from society and recreate Thoreau’s Walden (although it’s ultimately worth it, if you try). But as we gaze down into an artificial blue light, instead of up into our companion’s eyes, we not only empty our lives of emotive connection, but we empty the love from ourselves. It’s up to each of us to reclaim our beating hearts before we are drowned out by digital silence.
Update: SB 649 passed out of the House and was sent back to the Senate for a final vote on the amended version. Since SB 649 also passed out of the Senate, it will now go to Governor Brown for signing. Letters, emails and calls should pour into Governor Jerry Brown’s Office within the next few days.
We are having a Post Card Campaign at the Ecology Center Booth at the Berkeley Farmer’s Market this Saturday. \Don’t have time to send a postcard? We can send one for you, please email us back – Saraharminoff@aol.com. There’s a coordinated social media campaign, asking folks to take pics of their postcards and post using #STOP SB 649 to further amplify the avalanche.
Please write a Letter to the Editor! Recent articles include:
Sample Post Cards to Governor Jerry Brown:
1) Stop SB 649! SB 649 is a project from ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council, an organization for corporate advantage over what is good for the public.
2)The CA state Dept of Finance does not approve of SB 649, nor do 300 local cities in California as it overturns local governance in favor of corporate control.
3) SB 649 impacts climate change and energy consumption – – Wireless technology consumes more energy than wired — fiber optics, cable, etc. See http://whatis5g.info/energy-consumption/
4) SB 649 ruins aesthetics in California. Teamsters are opposed and might pull the film industry out of state. Please retweet! “We view this bill as a full assault on local democracy!” Barry Broad, Teamsters Public Affairs Council #NoOnSB649https://twitter.com/CaCities/status/908742091668307968
5) SB 649 protects industry not health. Harmful effects of RF-EMF fields are already proven. A large number of peer-reviewed scientific reports show harm to human health including increased cancer and deaths around cell towers — subsequently when cell towers are removed, studies show that the death rate returns to normal levels. The US National Toxicology Program (NTP) shows an increase in incidents of brain and heart cancer in animals exposed to EMF.
6) Firefighters got an exemption from cell towers on their building, after facing neurological symptoms and other health problems — what about our most vulnerable populations such as children? http://fearlessparent.org/cell-tower-hypocrisy-rescuing-firefighters-not-kids/
7) More than 180 scientists and doctors from 35 countries, recommend a moratorium on the roll-out of the fifth generation, 5G, for telecommunication until potential hazards for human health and the environment have been fully investigated by scientists independent from industry.
8) SB 649 creates unsafe working conditions for utility workers. SB 649 antennas will be placed on utility poles, and utility workers will be exposed all day up close.
After asking Gov. Brown to veto SB 649, what else can you do? Post a link to this website on your Facebook page, your Twitter feed or your Instagram account. http://www.noon649.org/ Together we can protect the health and safety of all Californians! Thank you taking a moment to do this, and for taking a stand on this important issue!