An Electronic Silent Spring – September, 2016 Newsletter

An Electronic Silent Spring 
September, 2016 Newsletter from Katie Singer

What’s constructive use of anyone’s attention? New e-technologies keep getting deployed, proposed and mandated: “small cells” (a new kind of antenna), distributed antenna systems (DAS–co-located on existing utility poles), the Internet of Things (speedy machine-to-machine communication), smart meters, smart appliances, LED streetlights, voice over Internet protocols (VOIPs) and the “sunset” of copper legacy landlines….

At a recent Senate Commerce Committee meeting, FCC Commissioners told lawmakers that broadband deployment and especially 5G infrastructure is key for the nation’s economy. Commissioner O’Rielly said that 5G infrastructure “will require a ten-fold or greater siting of wireless towers and antennas…. We may see a million new small cells and DAS antennas deployed in the next five years. All of this infrastructure can’t be sited without approval of decision makers, including private landowners and municipal managers.”

I’ve heard from communities around the country that their attorneys are being pressured to write ordinances that will allow corporations to deploy “small cells” and DAS. City attorneys who aim to create protective ordinances need legal advice. For starters, I recommend B. Blake Levitt’s book, Cell Towers: Wireless Convenience? or Environmental Hazard? Proceedings of the Cell Towers Forum, State of the Science, State of the Law, iUniverse ed., 2007.

Municipal leaders also seek to educate their constituents (and themselves) about the myriad of issues at stake:
* Electronics’ exponentially increasing energy demands create greenhouse gasses and climate change.
* Cybersecurity breeches have become commonplace.
* Telecom rules and regulations continue to take away local authority over telecom infrastructure.
* Common devices can interfere with medical implants and cause them to malfunction or shut off.
* The media “spins” studies like NTP’s (which show that cell phone radiation causes brain and heart tumors and causes DNA damage) and tell the public not to worry about continuing to use mobile devices.

Increasingly, the media seems to give respectful attention to tech addiction and problems with cybersecurity. Could people who are aware of larger pictures make use of this?

Also recently, many people have told me that their efforts to illuminate technology’s shadows seem futile. Perhaps our opportunity is to invite discussion with our own families, neighbors, local lawmakers, educators and physicians. To hear their concerns–then ask if they might hear ours as well.

Here’s my September round-up:

The FCC seeks Comments by Friday, September 30 regarding the addition of yet more frequencies to the 5G spectrum.

On July 14, 2016, the FCC enacted the Spectrum Frontiers Proceeding, 5th generation (5G) mobile operations. 5G will use millimeter wave bands including 24-25 GHz, 32 GHz, 42 GHz, 48 GHz and 51 GHz. Commercial deployments will begin in 2020.

Until September 30, the FCC seeks Comments regarding the use of additional 5G frequencies, including 71-76 GHz, 81-86 GHz and 95 GHz.

Kevin Mottus, a lobbyist with the California Brain Tumor Association, has written instructions for submitting a Comment.

For examples of submissions from the FCC’s previous call for Comments about 5G, check out Blake Levitt and Starling Childs’ Comment. See also Dr. Ronald M. Powell’s Comment.

In your Comment, please consider addressing 5G’s energy demands, cybersecurity risks, and risks to the public health. We cannot afford to deploy 5G until and unless it is proven energy efficient, secure and safe.

Inspired by occupational therapist Cris Rowan ( and increasing media attention to tech addiction. I’ve drafted a Screen-Time Addiction Questionnaire for All Ages. Take the test; and if you’re moved, start your own tech addicts anonymous support group. Cris Rowan has clarified that reducing screen-time works best when it’s a whole family affair.

NIH’s National Toxicology Program (NTP) announced that the same RF/microwave radiation that led male rats to develop brain tumors also caused DNA breaks in their brains. Female rats (which did not have significant elevated tumor counts) had fewer DNA breaks. These findings are consistent with a study reported in 1994 by Henry Lai and N.P. Singh of the U. of Washington/Seattle.

          In response to NTP’s findings, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has issued new recommendations to reduce exposure to cell phones. Lead NTP study designer Ron Melnick, PhD, advises “consumers to take precautionary measures and avoid close contact with their cell phones, and especially limit or avoid use of cell phones by children.”  AAP’s recommendations include making only short or essential calls on cell phones; not carrying a phone against your body in a pocket, sock or bra; and not making calls in cars, elevators, trains or buses since cell phones emit more radiation to signal through metal.

The New Jersey Education Association has issued guidelines for minimizing health risks from electronic devices.

The American Medical Association has issued warnings about the health risks associated with increasingly common energy-efficient LED streetlights. The AMA referred to evidence that exposure to high-intensity light at night might increase the risk of cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and obesity. Intense LEDs can also impair nighttime drivers’ vision and harm wildlife, especially nocturnal animals, birds and insects.

A list of cell tower fires, collapses, worker deaths, debris, ice strikes and criminal activity may help illuminate the dangers of proposed cell towers. I’ve added this new list, prepared by (from Prince George County, Maryland) to a list from physicist David Stupin, to

A judge in Berkeley, California’s “Cell Phone Right to Know” Case (with the City requiring cell phone manufacturers to caution users not to use cell phones close to the body at the point of sale) may have a conflict of interest in ruling on the case, since her husband is an engineer with a firm that designs equipment for the coming 5G rollout. This is a small and significant case of one community taking steps to inform the public about cell phone dangers.

Katie Singer will speak in Brunswick, Maine about what our cyberworld asks of the Earth and how electronics impact climate change. November 9, Wednesday, 7pm at the Unitarian Church; part of the Merrymeeting Bay Speakers Series.

Want to read An Electronic Silent Spring?  If you’d like ten or more copies, I can pass on the discount that my publisher extends to me. This translates to a 30 – 35% discount from the cover price ($18), including shipping. To order, please contact me directly: katie  @  katiesinger.  com

To keep this newsletter (and other writing projects) going, please contribute! Katie Singer is currently working on a paper about safer school policies and another about the causes of “smart” meter fires. Donate here.

Thanks to everyone who uses electronics as safely as possible, reduces their energy use and EMR emissions.

To healthier ecosystems and communities,
Katie Singer

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