Tower Scare Chases California Preschool

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Another California school is getting prominent network coverage by a local CBS news station in Sacramento. KOVR-TV, the same station that aired the Ripon, CA tower cancer scare (later sourced to carcinogenic chemicals in the drinking water) aired a two-part report last week on a preschool that is facing closure over the erection of a nearby Verizon monopole. The Ripon story was cited as one of the causes for the panic.

According to the report, the school has been faced with closure, due to the sudden appearance of a monopole near a preschool housed in a shopping mall.  At least 34 families have given notice to Kids, Inc. that they are pulling their children out of the school when the tower gets turned on sometime next month. The tower, a camouflaged mono-palm design, was unanimously approved by the Folsom Planning Committee in July 20, 2016, due to its proximity to the Palladio Mall and the need for coverage in the high-traffic area.  

“Our kids are not guinea pigs,” Fatemeh Chini, a teacher and parent at Kids Inc. told KOVR-TV. She said she will be leaving the school.

In an email from Verizon responding to a letter sent to CEO Hans Vestberg, the parents referenced the phrase, “equipment that complies with the safety standards poses no known health risks,” citing “known” as the operative word. They suggested further studies are required.

Verizon stated in the email that several other locations for the tower were considered before the final selection was made, but all other locations were rejected on various grounds. “As a result,” the carrier said, “we are unable to change the location of the cell tower, as doing so will render the antenna incapable of providing the service customers need.”

KOVR-TV said repeated calls and emails to Verizon and industry-related association CTIA have not been returned. The station not only reported on the initial cancer outbreak story in Ripon but on the vindication of the tower industry when other factors were found to be its cause. Inside Towers issued an editorial (“Wrongly Accused, Widely Confused”) in May, lauding CBS on broadcasting the follow up story, although the impact of the initial piece featuring crying mothers and bed-ridden children left an indelible impression on viewers, followed by a social media riptide. Preschool owner Kelli Vacarro pointed to the highly publicized fight at Weston Elementary as one example of the growing stigma against cell towers near schools.

“It was just on the news about the cell tower in Ripon, California,” she said, adding she wants compensation from either Verizon, the city, or the Palladio Mall to move the school, a move she estimates at $250,000. The City of Folsom responded, “The location/proximity of Kids Inc. was not, and could not be, a factor when the City was considering the project.”

Verizon said, “Notifying neighboring businesses prior to construction isn’t common practice, unless we are required to do so, per the terms of our lease agreement or as directed by the local jurisdiction (the City of Folsom). In this case, we were not required to notify the mall tenants before construction began.”

Resources cited in the broadcast supporting the parents’ concerns were:

  • A 2014 study from the National Association of Realtors: “Cell Towers, Antennas Problematic For Buyers”
  • Joel Moskowitz, Director of the Center for Family and Community Health at the UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health. Moskowitz, has a background in mathematics and social psychology. He said he has reviewed more than 50 studies that found DNA damage from the RF Radiation emitted from cell phones and towers. The American Council on Science and Health, in a scathing report, called Moskowitz a “Cell Phone, WiFi Truther” in a 2017 article. The article says Moskowitz sued the State of California for hiding evidence that cell phones cause cancer. The report concludes by saying: “Dr. Moskowitz disgraces the University of California-Berkeley in precisely the same way Dr. Oz disgraces Columbia University: They are charlatans who wrap themselves in the prestige of academia to peddle foolishness to anxious parents. He is a blight upon academia and a nuisance to public health.”

By: Jim Fryer, Inside Towers Managing Editor 

July 1, 2019

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