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Wednesday, December 19 , 2018, 4:08 am | Fair 43º


Andrew Seybold: Fear of Radio Waves Joins Smart Meters, Cell Towers in Pantheon of Hysteria

Now I have heard and seen everything! Claims abound that Wi-Fi is the next form of radio radiation that is dangerous to our health! As these claims spread, more and more hysteria and anecdotal stories are circulating!

Starting in 1981, the first cellular systems were deployed in the United States and, as more cell sites were built to provide better coverage and capacity, some local residents began hearing stories about health dangers of being too close to a cell site.

Tests have been conducted ad nauseam and are still being conducted. The Federal Communications Commission established a set of guidelines to ensure radio frequency exposure remains harmless to ordinary citizens, and the agency requires all cell sites to be built to meet or exceed these ratings.

Still, people are uneasy, and today there are more cell sites than ever — with more coming. Big sites, medium sites, small sites, and cell sites inside your house or business.

They are not dangerous to your health, but like anything else, if you pay enough to unscrupulous “experts,” they will testify to anything.

In the meantime, planning commissions and wireless providers are moving along — not as quickly as needed to satisfy the demand for data and video services but quickly enough to develop more sites. Currently there seems to be an uneasy truce.

Next was the “smart-meter” scare. Oh, my god! My power meter has a radio transmitter in it, it is on the outside wall of my house and I can be exposed to RF waves that will do damage to some of my organs or perhaps even my brain!

That scare has pretty much subsided now since the electric companies have provided an opt-out plan for those who are super paranoid. It will be interesting to see what happens when those who have opted out are hit with special charges because a meter reader has to physically go to their location to read their meter.

Now, are you ready for the next big radio wave scare? Well it is upon us in the form of Wi-Fi hotspots.

WOW, we are no longer safe from radio frequency exposure regardless of where we go. Wi-Fi at Starbucks? McDonald’s? Many hotels and stores? Schools? In our homes?

Wi-Fi is everywhere, we cannot escape this latest threat no matter where we go.

Have you seen the segments on TV? A teacher complains of headaches, an “expert” is called in with an RF meter and “sniffs” the RF in the classroom, showing to the video camera a reading that moves the needle very high, which, of course, indicates there is a lot of Radio Frequency exposure in that room. It makes for good TV but lousy science.

I have the same type of meter as do thousands of radio engineers across the United States. The meter can be set at various ranges, including a range designed to measure very, very small amounts of radiation that are sometimes radiated from a TV set, a computer, or even the new LED lights you just installed.

If I set my meter to this range or scale and hold it near a Wi-Fi hotspot, the needle moves way up. However, if I use the correct range for measuring RF indoors and take a reading, the needle barely moves. Where it does land is far below the maximum exposure levels approved by the FCC for Wi-Fi systems.

Before cellular, smart meters and Wi-Fi, radio waves or energy were being sent through the air to be received by your TVs; radios; a police, fire or paramedic radio; or other type of two-way radio. Then cell sites began to appear, and today we have multiple levels of radio energy closer to us than ever before.

Is it harmful to our health? According to test after test by accredited research organizations, the answer is no, it is not when deployed correctly.

There are some tests that say that it is, in fact, dangerous, but I learned a long time ago that paper does not refuse ink, and all I have to do is put a little doubt in someone’s mind for it to soon become a major issue.

So what do you do if you believe that cellular, smart meters and Wi-Fi signals will harm your health? You can move to a remote section of the United States where there is no cellular, you can live off the grid and not use Wi-Fi to access the Internet.

Oh, by the way, you should not use your microwave oven, which could be exposing you to radio waves while you are cooking your food with it in the kitchen either.

What about the wireless home phone you have for your landline phone service? Better not use that either, since it uses radio waves to communicate with the unit’s base that is connected to your landline.

Radio waves are all around us and will be almost regardless of where we go and what we do.

The government and engineers who work with RF every day, and many medical personnel have tested and retested RF exposure over very long periods of time with no detrimental results proven.

There are cell sites on roofs of hospitals, including Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital. There are smart meters almost everywhere there is electricity. And there is Wi-Fi present almost every place we visit.

Wi-Fi indoors enables your wireless phone to work inside. Many networks, when you enter a building with Wi-Fi present, hand off your phone to a Wi-Fi access point so you can continue to have Internet and voice access when you are in the building.

Wireless is changing our lives, in some cases for the better, and sometimes not. But it is here, and we will have to learn to trust that those who pass the laws about what can be deployed are making sure what they authorize is safe.

Remember, they use the same technology at the same locations as the rest of us.

— Andrew Seybold is a wireless communications consultant. The opinions expressed are his own.

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