Wrongly Accused, Widely Confused

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The recent RF-as-cancer-causing villain case in Ripon, CA we have been following at Inside Towers has taken a sudden turn of vindication for our industry.  Like a game of Clue, one could say: “Aha! It wasn’t the pole in the schoolyard. It was the water supply that did it!”  At least that’s what the evidence is beginning to show in reports being done by the Ripon School District who has kept an even keel, a level head, and has worked dutifully to find answers on what was affecting their students.

One most certainly cannot fault the parents who went after the most visible thing they could find: Sprint’s monopole.  In their grief and desperation, they hired a new-age, emf whisperer with dubious credentials to tell them what they wanted to hear. (Seriously, he will come to your house, wave a low-price gadget around, and tell you if your pillows are emitting RF).  With tears flowing and pictures of children hospitalized, the local TV stations were more than happy to cover the story with all fingers pointing at the tower as their nemesis. ‘Fire up the drone cameras to circle that tower!  Quick-cut to the crying mother!’ The optics were terrific.

Sprint did the right thing by taking the site down and deserve our support for their actions.  Some industry wags jumped on them mercilessly with claims of “shooting themselves in the foot” and “caving in to public opinion.”  What Sprint did was give a terrific example of how sincerely our industry is willing to interact with the local communities and yet be sensitive to their concerns. If the carrier is invited back into the school grounds we can only hope they will accept it with the same class and dignity they showed in vacating the premises.

But, once the Pandora’s Box of fear and loathing was opened, it was picked up by media and the NIMBY-leaning citizens across the country and around the world as proof positive the RF/cancer concerns are real.  We have cited a half-dozen cases where the Ripon story has come up: Newsweek, CBS Morning News, the London Daily Mail and several local news outlets around the U.S. Serious lawmakers in Syracuse, NY who should know better, i.e., as opposed to distraught parents looking for an answer, have used the California scenario in pushing back against Verizon’s recently announced 5G entry into their market (see our top story). The simple logic that cell sites have occupied tens of thousands of schoolground locations for decades in the U.S., hundreds of thousands worldwide, and have yet to produce one provable instance of medical concern is lost on them. What CAN be proven is how much money these entities over the years have generated to help these schools provide for sports, supplies, the arts, expansion, salaries and curriculum.

Let’s hope the story of the real cancer-causing culprit gets the same notoriety that was foisted on the maligned monopole of Ripon, CA.

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By Jim Fryer, Managing Editor, Inside Towers

May 6, 2019

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