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A Close Look at Cell Phone Towers

Concerns about cell phones and electro-magnetic fields (EMF) are shared by many people, but a closer look can provide some reassurance. There is no good scientific evidence that cell phones or cell phone towers have harmed people. If the potential for harm was there, we have the tools to discover and confirm it.

The large increase in lung cancer following World War II, was quickly recognized as a public health problem. The surge in smoking following WWI & II, when soldiers were given free cigarettes, caused a clear mini-epidemic. The science was clear from the beginning, and science is clear about the lack of danger from EMF. Similarly, the dangers of pesticides and asbestos were discovered and dealt with. Using these same public health tools there has been no meaningful evidence that cell phone radiation is harmful.

Electromagnetic radiation occurs across a spectrum. Think of a piano keyboard with low-frequency notes, or energy rays, on the left and high-frequency, more dangerous rays, on the right. We are constantly surrounded by many different levels of radiation from this spectrum.

The low energy bands are essentially harmless to us. This includes radio broadcasts, cell phones, the Wi-Fi in your house, and even TV remote controls. These are all weaker than the radiation from an ordinary household light bulb, which is itself radiation.

As we move up the energy spectrum we come to TV and UHF broadcasts, still safe.

The next step is a band of energy which humans have evolved to detect with some sensitive cells in our retinas. This is the visual spectrum from red to violet. It is only when you reach the ultraviolet level that there is enough energy to dislodge electrons and damage cells. That is what “ionizing radiation” means. This damage can lead to cellular mutations which can cause cancer. UV light can damage skin, but it takes higher energies to penetrate deeper. These higher energies come from X-rays, gamma rays, etc.

The EMFs below this level are just too weak to have an effect and there are no credible studies linking cancer (or any other illnesses) to this type of radiation. Just because we can see the towers does not mean they are any more of a threat to us than radio or television broadcasts washing over us constantly, or GPS signals, or TV screens. Even your household electric wiring leaks EMFs into the surroundings.

The energy in radiation rays from a cellphone is 1 million times weaker than a light bulb.

We can be reassured by one simple proof. Our societies have been awash in these radiation fields for over 100 years, but there is no increase in cancer rates as a result. It was easy to see the increase in lung cancer when smoking became popular and we would be able to detect increases in other cancers if they were occurring. Furthermore, the problems with smoking, asbestos, suntan, and pesticides, all prove the point: threats to health were identified, confirmed with scientific investigations, and public health measures were adopted. Cellphone towers just do not have the energy to harm us.


For more information on EMF sources see:

For information on health effects, see:

Dr. Richard Margolese is a Professor of Surgical Oncology at McGill University and finds it important to demystify science for the public. 


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