“Pittsburgh cancer institute warns of cell phone-cancer risk, defying public research” screamed the headline from the Associated Press this past July 24th. That certainly got my attention.

The story is about Dr. Ronald B. Herberman, director of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, who issued a warning to his colleagues about the possible dangers of cell phone use. The doctor wrote in his letter that children were specifically vulnerable to these hazards because their brains are still developing. He also warned adults to keep their phones away from their bodies to minimize exposure to electromagnetic field (EMF) waves.

In this day and age, it’s extremely common and convenient to have or use a cell phone in the course of conducting your business or private life. But there definitely have been questions raised that should make us think twice before we make the decision to get one. Sufficient time has not elapsed since the technology was invented for scientists and doctors to adequately discover all the ways that EMF waves may harm us and our children.

Although ubiquitous in our culture, it is still possible to live without a cell phone. Owning one is usually a personal choice. However, having a cell phone tower in the center of town would force EMF waves through our homes, schools and streets, upon us and our children. It would be a violation of our bodies.

As ludicrous as that is, the City of New York is still considering issuing a special permit to a cell phone company, T-Mobile, to do just that – erect a cell tower on top of a house behind Frank’s Deli in very close proximity to Maspeth Town Hall and many homes.

Living in Maspeth, we are already assaulted by noise and air pollution from all directions on a regular basis. While trying to minimize these health hazards, the City should not be injecting another one into our lives.

The Board of Standards and appeals told me, after I finished testifying in front of them at the first hearing about the proposed 72nd Place cell tower, that they would not consider any testimony about the health effects of cell towers because the federal government has prohibited denying permits for them on that basis. According to the feds, cell usage is perfectly safe, and so are cell towers.

But we all know that big communications companies pay lobbyists a lot of money to sway the government to act in their best interests. When it comes to potential carcinogens, I would rather trust the advice of a cancer specialist.

The second BSA hearing for the cell tower, originally scheduled for August 19th, has been postponed until November. In the meantime, word in the community is that T-Mobile has found a way to switch its plan from a tower to relay transmitters that do not require a special permit, but rather a DOB permit. This has to make you wonder if there ever was a need for a tower in the first place.

I have been urging DOB officials to not approve the application for transmitters when it comes across their desks. Until sufficient research has been conducted on the effects of EMF waves on people’s health, I will continue to say that now is not the time and residential Maspeth is not the place for cellular equipment.