By Liliana Alvarez
A group of companies is reaching the consortiums with a very tempting offer of money to place cell phone antennas on the terraces. Companies want to get many contracts before a regulation comes out that is going to put restrictions on them.
"All the co-owners of my building received a letter with a proposal from a telephone company so that within a week, we would vote on whether we wanted the installation of an antenna. They offered us $ 1,200 per month, to be paid in advance for a year , with a duration of 10 years, or forever, if we wanted. The letter was suspicious: It was short and the offer was tempting and there was no obvious cause for concern because those antennas were already installed in schools and hospitals, said the convening company. The first thing I thought was: "It's a lot of money for the consortium." But then I hesitated and called my son's pediatrician to rule out a health problem. He told me: "I wouldn't put it in my building." And nothing else.
From there I started to investigate on my own. "These statements belong to Irina Fallik, a neighbor of Palermo Viejo who, after a long raid through public offices (Center for Management and Participation of her neighborhood, General Directorate of Urban Interpretation, Ombudsman's Office, headquarters of the World Health Organization ( OMS), among others) ended up at the Sociedad de Fomento de Palermo Viejo and obtained a joint call from that entity and the Deputy Ombudsman's Office, in charge of Lic. Antonio Elio Brailovsky so that the neighbors become aware of the danger that this offer represents temptress.
"There is a scientific debate on whether cell phone antennas pollute or not." According to the WHO, studies have not yet been completed to ensure that they pollute, but the truth is that they radiate electromagnetic waves that pass through the human body and this causes health disturbances. "And he added." On the other hand, the committee commissioned by that body on the subject, indicates that it is prudent not to place them up to 500 meters from places where boys live. "" Following a trial made and won by a passenger who was traveling in the subway in Venice, to whom the proximity of a cell phone he intercepted his pacemaker, the use of cell phones was prohibited in this means of transport, a provision that later spread to all of Italy. "Something similar happened in Japan where in no means of transport you can enter with cell phones.
No less interesting are the observations of Noemí Hakel, president of the Sociedad de Fomento de Palermo Viejo: "When Irina came with this concern, it was the first time that we got in touch with this issue. We had people specialized precisely in consortium issues in the assembly of our society, so that it was advised so that it can handle the issue in the assembly of its consortium, "he reports. And he continues: "When we heard that the radius of influence of the electro-magnetic waves from the cell phone antennas was more than 500 m and it not only affected the building, our legs shook".
It was then that they decided on the joint call in the Plaza Cortázar at 6.30 in the afternoon of Monday, April 23 last.
"People were very concerned about this issue. The architect Ezequiel Beilía, needed information, because that night the issue was discussed in
the assembly of your consortium. A person from the neighborhood who has an antenna installed in his building even approached and we are trying to find out where there are more of these antennas in the area. We are going to carry out a collection of signatures that we will send both to Lic. Antonio Brailovsky and to all the authorities of the City Government, requesting the detention of these antennas facilities throughout the city of Buenos Aires until regulations are established and studied and spread the word about its health effects, "Hakel emphasized.
Antonio Brailovsky went further: What does one do in the face of these scientific disquisitions that it does or does not harm health? He wondered. "One option is that until it is proven that it hurts I do nothing and I continue using it and another until it is proven that this is wicked I do not continue to use it. The problem is that if within 10 years it is proven that this is causes cancer. Is it worth risking your life for a few pesos? One has only one life that can be spent with more money or less, but only one, "he said.
Why is little known about this ?, he wondered, because behind this are not only the mobile phone companies, but also the entire military system, the communications system of the armed forces and security, it can enter in the same situation as cell phone antennas. With which there is a military interest.
There is the paradox that there is a group of companies that is advancing very fast, protected by the fact that there is no regulation that controls it: There is an international military system that gives it a kind of umbrella to advance.
On the other hand, few media outlets dare to fight a advertiser: In any media, the censorship of an Advertising Manager was always stricter than that of any Colonel.
If the sector of power is pressured by businessmen and the military, which remains for us to defend the community, we need forms of neighborhood organization, so that people reflect on whether it is worth risking their lives for a little money. The issue of associative networks are the last point of defense of society, supporting each other and giving information that they are denying otherwise, "he concluded.
Other testimonies indicated that in Lanús (people came to this call because they did not know who to contact in their jurisdiction), since it was installed, an antenna that was placed on a two-story building, in addition to cracking its structure, was they regularly cause different pathologies: A 19-year-old boy suffers from high blood pressure; the former owner of the property, who lived four blocks from it, died of cancer last year and a 37-year-old suffered a stroke that considerably prevents it. Not all comments are negative: The architect Beilía agreed in his building not to place the antenna and anyone who wants to help can appear at the Sociedad de Fomento de Palermo Viejo and sign the act that Noemí Hakel prepares in order to activate prevention. So be it.
CELLULAR TELEPHONY IN THE WORLD
To residents who have received an offer from a mobile phone company to install a mobile phone antenna or base station on their roof, we recommend asking these questions:
What voting system is necessary in the assembly of the consortium where the issue is discussed?
Can a neighbor object?
Do the companies provide sufficient information on the present and future effects of the antenna to be installed?
Is the depreciation of the value of the apartments a real damage to the property?
What happens to the civil liability of the owners against possible physical, psychological and patrimonial damages that may occur to the neighbors of adjoining buildings?
What effects can be produced in the building by the installation of a mobile telephone antenna?
Companies usually approach neighbors with the benefits of the offer, this is the clearest and most direct effect that neighbors perceive at first: The consortium will charge an amount that ranges between 15,000 and 20,000 pesos per year. The amounts increase or decrease according to the place and the need for the antenna and also because when reluctance on the part of the neighbors arises, the companies tend to increase the offer. If the possible harmful effects, derived from the waves from the antennas, are the arguments for rejection, the companies state that they will install the antenna in the building opposite, which does not exempt them from receiving the waves from the antenna. In that case the consortium will not charge any money.
It is necessary to evaluate the overweight in the building structure, since this type of antennas usually weigh several tons, and not only the antenna is installed, but also different equipment and transformers, a weight that can be expanded in the following years without having been recorded in the contract.
Another direct effect, derived from the installation of telephone antennas, and which is not perceived by the naked eye, is that produced by the normal operation of the antenna. The antenna installed on the roof of the building covers a certain area, and sends and receives signals from all mobile phones that move through its area. These signals that it receives and emits are called electromagnetic waves. These waves cannot be seen, cannot be smelled, are invisible, and travel through space without the need for a cable or any material support. They easily penetrate buildings and people (something logical, because if not, remote communication would not be possible). The power of these electromagnetic waves decreases as they move away from the antenna (around which the highest emission levels occur).
As we have said, these waves are easily absorbed by the human body, in which they produce certain biological effects. But the problem arises from the lack of agreement of scientists on what the harmful levels are.
There is agreement that near the antenna (within a radius of 3 to 6 meters) the levels would be too high and harmful to humans, and could produce thermal or heating effects in short exposures. For this reason, it is recommended to fence the antennas and that the public cannot approach them. This obviously could pose a problem with rooftop antennas, as the floors immediately below and in front of them would continuously receive the highest emissions of electromagnetic fields.
It must also be taken into account that even if these limits are respected, problems can occur for people with pacemakers: They can be interfered with by the waves emitted by the antenna, even at very low levels.
But the problem arises with long-term exposures. What happens when a person lives, sleeps, works, plays or studies, month after month and year after year, near a mobile phone tower? Your body will be continuously exposed to emission levels much lower than those recommended by the protection regulations (which only take into account short exposures, for example 6 minutes). They will not cause burns or heating, because they are not exposed to very high levels. Many scientists warn that other types of non-thermal effects can occur, derived from much lower levels and long-term exposure. These effects could occur in people who spend long periods in a radius of up to 300 or 500 meters from an antenna, (taking into account that the closer you are, the higher the power that is being received).
This is how many countries and cities: Switzerland, Italy, Sweden, the Eastern Countries (which have been researching this topic for decades), Australian cities, the city of Toronto (in Canada), Salzburg (Austria), have established norms that oblige place the antennas 100, 200 and even 500 meters from inhabited places. The latest recommendations from the World Health Organization (WHO) call for the removal of schools, hospitals, geriatric centers, since some scientific studies suggest that children and the elderly may be the most affected by continued exposure.
There, a precautionary policy is currently being applied, since some scientific research has established that the population continuously exposed to radiation levels similar to those emitted by mobile phone antennas could experience an increase in: Abortions, damage to the DNA, changes in the electrical activity of the brain and in blood pressure, decreased levels of melatonin, depression, insomnia, headaches, chronic fatigue syndrome, impaired immune system, cancer, brain tumors and childhood leukemia.
For this reason, the WHO started in 1996 the "EMC Project", aimed at studying the effects on human beings of electromagnetic fields, and which wants to establish uniform exposure limits for all countries. This project will present its conclusions in 2005 or 2006, as numerous scientific investigations are still necessary. The director of this Research Project recently stated that: "Mobile phones have been around us for less than 10 years, and the incubation period for cancer is at least 10 or 15 years. Therefore, we need conduct studies so that if there is an impact, it can be found in a reasonable time. "
Along these lines, the European Union has recommended that member countries adopt precautionary policies, and that they continue investigating, and has started a project to clarify the possible effects of electromagnetic fields derived from mobile telephony, in which researchers and hospitals are involved. from 9 European countries.
In 1999, due to the concern and social alarm in the United Kingdom, the British Ministry of Health created a "Group of Independent Experts in Mobile Telephony", made up of doctors, biologists, engineers, etc., which issued its Report in May 2000, and the following conclusion should be highlighted: "It is not possible at the present time to affirm that exposure to radio frequencies (derived from mobile telephony) at levels lower than those established in national safety regulations, does not has no potential adverse health effects, and that gaps in knowledge are sufficient to justify a precautionary policy. "
And, there is no agreement among scientists on whether residential exposure to the waves of a mobile phone antenna can carry risks to human health. But at the same time, there is broad consensus that exposure to these waves has not been shown to be absolutely safe.
This disagreement occurs because it is difficult to carry out this type of experiment in laboratories, and therefore it is necessary to wait for epidemiological studies. In short, and crudely speaking, we must wait for symptoms and diseases to begin to manifest themselves in the exposed population. And this will still take a few years, since mobile telecommunications technology, and the massive exposure of groups of citizens to the waves of their telephones and antennas, is a very recent phenomenon.
More and more voices are raised pointing out the lack of ethics in this form of action, and the fact that, subordinating the health and safety of citizens to economic interests, this technology has spread so widely, without yet its possible long-term impact on human health is known.
For this reason, many countries and cities are adopting precautionary policies, awaiting the results of scientific research, trying in the meantime to move mobile phone masts away from homes, hospitals and schools.
There is also an important collateral effect in the face of constant information in the press and the media, on possible harmful effects of the antennas, demonstrations of neighbors who oppose their installation, etc.
Most people don't even know what electromagnetic fields are. But little by little, and more and more, news began to appear in the press and television, and people began to perceive a danger in the vicinity of these facilities. There will come a time when it will be practically impossible to install a mobile phone antenna without the opposition and protests of the residents of the area.
We must also take into account a clear effect on the value of real estate, since a person who has read this type of news, will think twice before buying a home close to an antenna. And it is that as they indicate the North American courts in similar subjects (for example, "Criscuola v. Power Authority of the State of New York", "San Diego Gas and Electric Co. v. Daley"): "If the fear has scientific foundation Whether or not it is irrelevant, since the central issue is the impact on the market value Adverse health effects are not the point in these cases: The issue is full compensation to the owner for the loss of value of his property ".
"The question is not whether electromagnetic radiation is dangerous or not, but the public perception of the danger that can have devaluing effects on the price of property." Given that mobile telephony is a relatively recent phenomenon, there are still not many studies on the effects on the real estate market of the installation of these antennas. But there are numerous studies conducted in the United States in recent years, which refer to homes near power lines. The conclusions of these studies can be fully applied to mobile phone antennas, and this because there are a series of common elements, which if they coincide, produce a clear effect on the real estate market:
Both installations emit electromagnetic fields, although at different frequencies.
Scientists have not yet agreed on whether or not these fields are harmful to health, and they are continuing to investigate.
They are highly visible facilities and close to homes, schools, parks, etc.
Advertising on local radio, press and television, on demonstrations, protests and complaints, related to possible health effects of this type of facilities.
As a conclusion we can say that until scientists agree on their research and / or epidemiological studies, we are all participating worldwide in a large laboratory where the antennas continue to be placed over our heads.-
* Liliana Alvarez placeholder image