No Antennas in My Backyard!
Cellular antennae on the roof of a building in Israel - a common sight.
Whether real or perceived, radiation from cellular antennas has become a serious environmental issue in Israel. So serious, in fact, that residents of buildings near antennas have been known to burn them down, and even riot, while cellular companies have begun to to hide antennas inside rented rooftop apartments! Last week regulations were approved regarding the controversial devices.
Under the new plan, cellular companies and local authorities will be responsible for reimbursing homeowners for lost property values. Smaller antennas will be installed in cities, and the public will be notified of new antennas. In addition, new antennas will not be allowed in natural habitats, and will be installed mostly on existing infrastructure, like telephone poles.Several thousand cellular antennas currently operate in Israel, one of the most densely networked countries in the world. The general public is weary of these sites, especially when they are placed near schools, due to widespread anecdotal evidence of increased rates of illness in their vicinity. Property values have also been known to plunge up to 30% when antennas are placed nearby.
Government officials have tried to downplay the dangers of cellular radiation. One familiar argument is that cellular phones emit more radiation when they are further away from antennas. Therefore, the public interest demands as many antennas as possible, especially near schools (Hebrew link), where children talk on cell phones. The cellular companies, for their part, seek to vastly expand their networks of antennas, in order to support more advanced cellular services.
The science on the issue of non-ionizing radiation from cell phones and antennas is not yet so clear, but then again, weren't we told that about the science of climate change for so many years, until a "consensus" finally formed? Some studies do seem to indicate, however, that cellular phone use is linked to increased risk of illness, especially among children.