It’s a shame that no one seems to have done a cost/risk analysis regarding the Berwyn cell phone tower situation [“Antenna Invasion,” July 23]. The revenue from the antennas placed on Saint Mary of Celle Catholic Parish and School boils down to only $9.37 per month per student. For this small amount of revenue, the schoolchildren and the neighbors will be exposed to an increased amount of electromagnetic frequency (EMF) radiation, which might or might not harm their health. And the property values in the neighborhood will be lower than before, since there are so many people who do not want to live near these antennas.

The wireless companies have an obvious vested interest in the spread of wireless technology. They currently rake in $88 billion a year. But the government also has a strong interest in the proliferation of this technology. After all, they have been auctioning off leases for airwave spectrums for many billions of dollars. If long-term, low-level radiation were found to be a definite health hazard, the wireless industry and the government would be greatly impacted financially.

Complicating the issue further is the fact that government grants for independent research in this area have all but disappeared. Most of the research done today on the safety of wireless technology is sponsored by the wireless industry. (Anyone who is naive enough to believe that this research is unbiased needs to read George Carlo’s book, Cell Phones: Invisible Hazards in the Wireless Age: An Insider’s Alarming Discoveries About Cancer and Genetic Damage.) And many researchers, like John Moulder, are handsomely paid by the wireless industry to promote the viewpoint that exposure to low-level, long-term EMF radiation is perfectly safe. The wireless industry depends on our ignorance and our trust.

The subject of EMF radiation is so technical and complex that only a small percentage of people truly understand it. This does not include, unfortunately, people like Father Prendergast and Alderman Fortunato who are entrusted to make decisions that affect so many others concerning the placement of antennas. My heart goes out to the Sordellis and their neighbors who no longer feel safe in their own homes.

Joann Seastrom

West Loop Gate

Grant Pick replies:

The cell antennas on Saint Mary of Celle will benefit the institution to the tune of $9.97 per child, a tad more than Ms. Seastrom indicates.

T-Mobile, in arguing for the antennas before Berwyn officials and the community, submitted a real estate appraisal concluding that the school site would “not be injurious to property values or improvements in the vicinity.”

Both John Moulder, a radiation biologist at the Medical College of Wisconsin, and Janet Newton, a founder of the EMR Network–opponents in this fight–agree that the wireless industry and cell companies have underwritten about half the research on radiation effects from phones and antennas. The rest has come from the National Institutes of Health and the military, principally the air force. Lately the money has dried up. “That’s because labs were finding adverse effects,” says Newton, and the wireless industry put the kibosh on things. No, says Moulder, the reason is that “researchers weren’t finding anything, and the industry as a whole is doing terribly today,” limiting money available for scientific studies.

Newton calls Moulder “the spokesperson for the CTIA,” meaning the Cellular Telecommunications & Internet Association. “I do not speak for the CTIA and I never have,” he responds, “though they do quote me a lot.” He says he was paid some $11,000 in 2001 and 2002 for speaking before and consulting with wireless groups and lawyers in their employ.