People living and working near cell towers suffer direct, often debilitating, health effects. Legal battles linger, pitting government officials against the citizens in harm’s way. Yet, the Concord-Carlisle School District has invited Verizon to propose a cell tower for our high school campus.
When Verizon activated a new, ground-mounted tower in Pittsfield, residents reported headaches, vertigo, nausea, tinnitus, brain fog and skin rashes. Pittsfield’s Board of Health investigated, then ordered Verizon to cease operation. Verizon responded by suing the town. After the Board withdrew its order, six injured residents sued the town and Verizon. This month, the defendants’ motion to dismiss was denied.
T-Mobile built a tower atop Wyandotte, Michigan’s Washington Elementary. Parents were notified only when construction commenced; they later sued T-Mobile and two-dozen public entities. This month, court orders delayed tower activation. Detroit News reported that an attorney and parent called this “[a]nother battle won in what is sure to be a long war.”
In 2016, Sprint installed a tower on a K-8 school campus in Ripon, California. Four students developed rare cancers. Three teachers were diagnosed with cancer. In 2019, Sprint agreed to relocate its cell tower.
Tower advocates call radiofrequency radiation below levels set by the Federal Communication Commission “safe.” In 2021, however, a federal court found the FCC’s failure to update its safety guidelines for 25 years “arbitrary and capricious,” citing extensive evidence of health impacts.
A New Hampshire legislative commission reviewed this evidence. Their 2020 report recommended a 500-meter (1,640-foot) cell tower setback from occupied buildings. At May school committee meetings, Verizon suggested tower locations about 500 feet from CCHS. The mission of the District is “to educate” — not to improve cell service. A more remote tower, perhaps at Concord’s compost site, could improve coverage while maintaining a safer distance.
Gail and Stephen Hire