Cell-Tower Radiation Can Kill
Trinidad & Tobago's Newsday
December 4, 2006
Hundreds of persons, from the very young to the elderly, living in and around
cell-towers are unknowingly living with death as both local and
international medical research indicate radiation from these towers may
cause major diseases, sometimes with fatal consequences.
was the view expressed by several professors, researchers and public
health scientists during a health symposium yesterday at the University
of the West Indies (UWI) Faculty of Medical Sciences, Eric Williams
Medical Sciences Complex (EWMSC) in Mt Hope.
The symposium entitled “Cell Tower Radiation: Is it safe?” saw a
disappointing turnout especially since the health concern surrounding
cell-towers was raised locally and internationally within recent time.
Members of the panel found that brain tumours, memory loss, a
reduced sperm count and leukaemia were some of the effects caused by
constant exposure to cell-tower radiation.
Noticeably absent from yesterday’s symposium were representatives
of the country’s two cellular providers — TSTT and Digicel. The absence
was noted by symposium chairman Keith Clifford.
Peter Permell, vice-president of the Association for Radio
Frequency (RF) Emission and Control in TT (ArFECTT), told the audience
that cell-tower radiation is one of the most important environmental
According to Permell, ArFECTT undertook its own research into RF
emissions because the group “is deeply concerned about the public’s
safety.” The association, he said, also found that the symptoms subside
when people leave the surrounding area where these towers are located.
Cell-towers are erected in or around densely populated areas to
ensure the viability of radio frequencies on which cellular phones
It was added that the towers should not be placed closer than 300 metres to where people live.
Professor Stephan Gift, of UWI’s Faculty of Engineering, told the
sparse audience that his findings showed radiation caused alteration in
brain waves, a two-fold increase in child leukaemia and changes in the
human immune system.
He also sourced information from a “Reflex Study” done by 12 groups
in seven European countries. Findings showed that radiation caused DNA
breaks in exposed cells of the human body.
Gift said it was also found that in Germany, this year, there was a
seven fold increase in breast cancer in an area with cell towers. He
also said that 900 cell towers were demolished in Taiwan in 2005 after
these health concerns were raised.
Throughout the local cell tower issue, TSTT has maintained it
ensures its radio frequency emissions from cell-towers were as much as
a thousand times lower than the recommended levels of the International
Commission on Non-Ionising Radiation Protection (ICNIRP).
However, Gift suggested that the Telecommunications Authority of
Trinidad and Tobago (TATT) reject the ICNIRP as have China, Russia and
Sweden and move to a better standard when dealing with the health
ramifications of these towers.
Gift said that the headaches people experience with prolonged
cellular phone usage are because, “things leak into the brain, which
shouldn’t.” Contacted yesterday for comment, TATT executive chairman
John Prince said two members were present at the symposium as they
would today brief him on what the medical experts said at the
“We have not had all of the information (regarding the amount of
cell-towers in TT)...the companies (TSTT and Digicel) are supposed to
lodge with us,” Prince said.
When contacted by Newsday, TSTT Communications Manager Amoy Van
Lowe assured that TSTT maintains cell-tower emissions significantly
lower than international standards. She added that instead of
criticising the company, Gift should, “lobby to have the standards
The symposium also included a recording from George Carlo, a Public
Health Scientist at the Science and Public Policy Institute in the
United States on his findings regarding cell-tower radiation emissions.
He said over a period of five and a half years, severe effects from
cellular phone usage were discovered. Carlo found that radiation from
cellular phones opened up the blood-brain barrier that normally
protects brain tissues from toxic chemicals circulating in the blood
and also caused a disruption in DNA repair.
However, Jonas Addae, a professor at UWI’s Faculty of Medical
Sciences, disputed the panel’s findings saying that in 2000, the World
Health Organisation (WHO) indicated that “radioactive frequencies
emitted by mobile phones and base stations are unlikely to induce or
In July, Planning and Development Minister Camille Robinson-Regis
indicated that Government, with the help of the Army, was going to tear
down 16 TSTT and Digicel cell-towers which reportedly failed to comply
with existing planning policy. So far, only one cell-tower has in fact
been torn down.
Attempts to contact both Robinson-Regis and Public Utilities and
the Environment Minister Pennelope Beckles, for comment proved futile.