Pilot study confirms harm from allowable levels of RF radiation
August 14, 2017
Assembly Member Lorena S. Gonzalez Fletcher
Chair, Appropriations Committee
P.O. Box 942849
Sacramento, CA 94249-0080
Re: Strongly Oppose SB 649
Dear Assembly Member Gonzalez Fletcher:
I respectfully oppose SB 649. I recognize your charge as Chair of the Appropriations Committee is to evaluate the potential costs to the State. I have concerns germane to the cost issue, yet I would like to take this opportunity to address the firefighter exemption. I believe the firefighters, whose health risk from radiation the state has accommodated to an extent, are the harbingers of a substantial cost risk to the state.
Though the fire station exemption is not stated as being granted for health reasons, I can attest to the California firefighters’ fight against cell towers on their stations for over 17 years based on myriad symptoms they have experienced following activation of cell towers on or adjacent to their stations. This is relevant because we are looking at 50,000 new cell sites in California if SB 649 becomes law, and former FCC Chair Tom Wheeler has talked about “millions and millions” of new cell towers across the nation for the coming 5G build out.
In 2001 I was asked by San Diego firefighters to write appeals when cell towers were permitted for their stations. I began hearing more and more stories of firefighters who literally could not function in the job that clearly establishes firefighters as the guardians of society. Once cell towers were activated on or adjacent to their stations, they could no longer function without severe headache, inability to sleep, and foggy thinking. These are not symptoms we wish to see in our First Responders.
In 2004 I organized a SPECT brain scan pilot study of firefighters who has been exposed to a cell tower on their station for over five years. We found brain abnormalities in all firefighters tested. Enclosed is my filing with the FCC detailing this study.
In 2004 I co-authored Resolution 15 which was passed overwhelmingly by the International Association of Firefighters. Res. 15 urging a moratorium on the placement of cell towers on fire stations in the US and Canada. I then helped the Los Angeles IAFF locals as they aligned with law enforcement unions to fight FirstNET towers on their stations. I am currently following a brain tumor cluster in a California fire station with a wireless hub next door to their station.
There is a solid history of these men and women becoming ill in close proximity to cell towers. There are human and financial costs associated and the state needs to hear their story.
The symptoms experienced by the firefighters who participated in the SPECT brain scan study were similar to firefighters in other stations who live in the shadow of cell towers. Yet specific to the men we studied, it is important to note all the men had passed rigorous physical and cognitive exams prior to being hired by the fire department. Their symptoms included:
- extreme fatigue
- cognitive impairment
- anesthesia-like sleep where the men woke up for 911 calls “as if they were drugged”
- inability to sleep
- unexplained anger
- immune-suppression manifest in frequent colds and flu-like symptoms
Real life examples of these symptoms are best briefly characterized by:
- Firefighters got lost on 911 calls in the town they grew up on several occasions.
- In one instance, four firefighters sat in the rig in a stupor with the alarm sounding in the background, unable to remember how to start the engine.
- A medic with 20 years of experience who had never made a mistake forgot basic CPR in the midst of resuscitating a coronary victim.
The brain scans of these six men revealed a pervasive, hyper-excitability of the neurons which suggested the exposure to RF (microwave) radiation was causing the neurons to continually fire without benefit of rest. When neurons (brain cells) cannot rest, they ultimately die.
The firefighters most important lesson to us as a state, and as a society, may be that if we allow a build out of cell towers such that they are as commonplace in front of homes and schools as they are now on fire stations, we will be facing a tsunami of Alzheimer’s and dementia.
The rate of people dying from Alzheimer’s disease in the United States rose by 55% over a 15-year period according to new data from the Centers for Disease Control. In May 2017 Acting CDC Director Dr. Anne Schuchat issued the following statement in response to this alarming increase: “As the number of older Americans with Alzheimer’s disease rises, more family members are taking on the emotionally and physically challenging role of caregiver than ever before.” The direct and indirect costs to the state for Alzheimer’s and a host of related neurological and immunological diseases could be catastrophic for California.
Clearly the state honors the sacrifice of California’s firefighters and is concerned about the health risks they face from cell towers, having granted an exemption to them from SB 649. Yet firefighters are the strongest of the strong. What does that imply for the rest of us?
With SB 649 the risks continue for all, and then the question becomes what benefits can possibly be gained that outweigh the considerable risks imposed by this technology proliferating at a speed far greater than our bodies’ ability to adapt? Who is going to be liable for the health damages, loss of life, fire damages, and property devaluation?
At a hearing in which Sen. Hueso testified, he was asked a question about liability. A wireless lobbyist told the senator “the companies” have that covered. But wireless carrier policy limits are often $50,000 for fire, and up to $1 million for property damage, including death.
Having worked closely with the firefighters for nearly two decades, let me address one fire and safety issue with respect to liability that I believe highlights a shortcoming of this bill. This one shortcoming alone could prove very costly to the state.
Imagine a single cell tower in the right of way on land owned by the city, land the state will have forced the city to lease to a wireless carrier. OSHA lists telecommunications sites as higher risk for lightning strikes, so imagine a fire starts with a cell tower (case in point, the costly Malibu fire).
California weather conditions make us candidates for fires getting out of control quickly. $50,000 in damages can be reached in a relative instant. Where do those harmed by this fire go next – after the carrier’s $50,000 limit is reached? Do they go to the city that rented out the right of way, or the state that forced this land to be leased by way of SB 649? As an attorney, you know the law is as nuanced as it is complex.
I contacted Sen. Hueso’s office for clarification on liability, as some attorneys have told me liability will rest in large part with the state. I was told by the state that liability rests with the cities/counties. I was told by the cities they don’t want to accept liability if they lose all local control and are forced by the state to lease out their land to telecom. In addition, a telecom lobbyist’s brief assertion to Sen. Hueso that the companies are responsibility is a reflection of each company’s limit per occurrence only.
The law is uncertain when it comes to state mandates that trump local authority when that local authority was originally granted by an act of Congress. The Telecommunications Act of 1996 guaranteed local control, and that is precisely what SB 649 would be taking away.
No one seems to know where liability rests, so I am turning to you not only for clarification, but with a plea to understand the message the firefighters have for this state. Often fiscal restraint is the most protective action one can take.
The firefighters with their fire station exemption from SB 649 are here to remind us this vote is not just about cell towers. It is about our future. Are we going to be about driverless cars and appliances being connected to our smartphones?
Or are we going to put a face on this bill. Based on the exemption the state has granted on health grounds, the face that has been looking to you for relief since 2001 and is looking to you for relief into the future, is that of firefighters everywhere. The firefighters do not want these cell towers on their stations, and they do not want them radiating in their children’s second-story bedroom windows.
/s/ Susan Foster
U.S. Adviser, Radiation Research Trust
Honorary Firefighter, San Diego Fire Department
Cc: Speaker Anthony Rendon