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Q: Is living next to a radio tower safe? ( Answered,   4 Comments )
Subject: Is living next to a radio tower safe?
Category: Science > Physics
Asked by: gwp-ga
List Price: $50.00
Posted: 26 Jan 2005 20:56 PST
Expires: 25 Feb 2005 20:56 PST
Question ID: 464063
Is living right next to a radio tower safe? If the answer is it
depends - is their away to find out if living next to a particular
tower (Council Crest area of Portland, Oregon) is safe?
Subject: Re: Is living next to a radio tower safe?
Answered By: thx1138-ga on 27 Jan 2005 05:29 PST
Hello gwp and thank you for you question.

The radio tower at Council Crest in Portland, Oregon, is also known as
'Stonehenge' or the 'KGON' tower.

PORTLAND , OR 97239-1440

Some pictures.

The 600 foot tower hosts KBOO, KGON, KPDQ-FM, KXJM, KKSN-FM and KWJJ,
FM stations and it also has a 2GHz Microwave Antenna 470 feet up.
Before the tower was built, there were some problems because the old
FM station antennas were so low to the ground that there was
interference from highly concentrated RF emissions. However there is
no longer any interference as they are now situated in the tower very
high up.

So now we know that the RF emissions are no longer a problem, what
about the 2GHz Microwave Antenna?
Well, the microwave antenna is used for telecommunications
(ie.cellular/mobile telephones)
"microwave towers
On mountain tops, you will see towers with small dish antennas that
bounce microwaves from one dish antenna to another one that is perhaps
10 to 50 miles away.  (The distance is really limited by the curvature
of the Earth.)  Because of their high frequency, they can carry many
telephone conversations or many internet signals simultaneously."

Are microwave antenna safe?

"Microwave antennas mounted on free-standing towers or water towers
typically result in ground-level radiation fields many orders of
magnitude below the limits specified in Subchapter 42. Based on
current research findings, it is not expected that any adverse health
effects would result from exposure to radiation levels under these
circumstances. As a comparison, radiation levels on the ground from
these antennas are typically 10,000 times lower than the normal
leakage encountered a few inches from the surface of a microwave oven.
Some antennas may be mounted on rooftops or water towers. In these
situations, for a few antennas, Subchapter 42 limits may be exceeded
if one is standing directly in front of the antenna, a few inches from
the antenna face. For many other antennas, the power levels are so low
that Subchapter 42 limits will never be exceeded, even right up
against the antenna."


Also see (regarding Council Crest specifically) :

"Radio- and TV-tower fights are not as common, and victory for those
opposing broadcasters is rarer still. Take the folks of the Healy
Heights neighborhood in a hilly suburb of Portland, Oregon, called
Council Crest. By the late '80s, the community was already the home of
a sizable antenna farm (locals called it an "electric jungle") spewing
highly concentrated RF emissions, so when rock station KGON proposed a
new tower that, at 607 feet, was almost twice as tall as any on the
site, neighborhood groups mobilized.

Pointing to a study by a researcher at Oregon Health Sciences
University that purported to show an elevated incidence of leukemia
near the Healy Heights site and others like it in the area, activists
beseeched local authorities and the FCC to intervene. But
representatives of KGON, who assured government types that the new
antenna would actually lower RF levels on the ground, eventually

The tower was built, and after it became operational, consultant
Richard A. Tell, who'd been hired to conduct RF field studies prior to
its construction, returned to do further measurements. "The results
were just as the broadcasters predicted," he says. "Because the
antennas that had previously been close to the ground were higher up,
the ambient field levels dropped noticeably. The people there had all
kinds of worries about it, but it operated precisely the way we
thought it would, and I haven't heard any hue and cry from them


"Question -   I live close to a radio antenna. Does it have radiation.
If so, how much and what is the safest distance?"

"There is no problem living near a radio antenna. Radio waves are no
more than electromagnetic waves that fulfill our universe. They are
like waves on a lake surface and the major part is invisible to us."

"Dr. Ken Mellendorf
Illinois Central College"


To summarize:
There is no scientific evidence to suggest that living close to a
radio tower is harmful, although it has to be said that there are many
individuals and organizations who caution against it, but it seems
that these objections are not based on any scientific fact (that I
could find)  For an example of a website against microwave towers see:

Thank you for your question, and if you need any clarification of my
answer, do not hesitate to ask before rating my answer.

Very best regards,


Search strategy included:
"Microwave tower" safe
Subject: Re: Is living next to a radio tower safe?
From: satelliteboy-ga on 05 Feb 2005 06:25 PST
What is your background and how much experience do you have working
with RF related products? What qualifies you to make an expert opinion
on this other than your ability to type in something into Google?

You are searching on problems with living next to a radio tower when
in fact the real problem that you should be considering is the
possible health effects of sustained high levels of EMFs
(Electromagnetic Radiation) on people's health.

Did you know that at a High Powered AM tower you can actaully hold a
flourescent light bulb in your hand and it will light up with out
being connected to anything? Ever considered wiring your body into a
light socket because it is about the same effect?

There is no question that raising the tower improves on the problem,
but there is still the problem of higher concentrations of EMFs in
that area and the associated health risks with such, and that is
simple to measure with an RFI study. However to suggest that we can
proceed to answer this question without doing one is nieve IMHO. What
would happen if the Amplifier up there started to have problems and
started to shoot spurs across the band?
Subject: Re: Is living next to a radio tower safe?
From: deeptimer-ga on 10 Mar 2005 06:34 PST
The health risk of EM radiation remains an open question in the
scientific literature.  Really one must ask what molecular mechanisms
within living cells are affected by which frequencies and intensities
of EM, and how.   Some references at NIH's PubMed site about this
topic are:

...which is dated but suggests a cancer link to 60Hz fields (normal
power lines in the home, not antenna farms);

...which states the matter is inconclusive but recommends caution and study;

...more to the point, indicating significant biophysical stress
response at microwave frequencies for employees working at a satellite
uplink site.

So perhaps there is cause for some concern, yes?  On the other hand,
many millions of people have been routinely exposed for at least a
half century to tens of thousands of transmitters, and we are not
suddenly dropping like flies.  The risk may prove non-zero, but it
will prove to be very low.
Subject: Re: Is living next to a radio tower safe?
From: deeptimer-ga on 10 Mar 2005 06:53 PST
Forgive me but I just have to add these stories to my prior comments.  

Thirty-five years ago, when I was in my high school electronics class,
our teacher was fond of telling us tales from his Korean war days in
the army.

He worked in the radar repair shop along with another technician. 
That fellow personally partook in the theory and experiment that if he
routinely radiated his gonads by standing in front of the feedhorns,
this would be an adequate safe and effective form of birth control. 
He later married his girlfriend for reasons that at this point are all
too obvious.  (Thinking back on my high school class from my adult
perspective, you know, I had a really cool guy for a electronics

I later worked with another man who setup radars in Vietnam, and in
the course of his duties claimed to routinely feel the pulse heating
within his body as he checked out installations.  That fellow is also
a life long heavy smoker and he's at a ripe old age doing just fine,
thank you.

Personally speaking, would I live near an antenna farm if asked? 
Sure, in a heartbeat.  The risk is so low that it is negligable
compared to other commonly incurred daily health risks.  Cars mame and
kill hundreds of thousands of folks per annum in the US alone--shall
we ban those first?
Subject: Re: Is living next to a radio tower safe?
From: muscogee-ga on 21 Aug 2005 09:41 PDT
After having read the comments of several contributors, I notice that
none have taken into account the cumulative effects of numerous EMR
sources on biological systems. An analogy is ionizing radiation. Small
doses must be added together to compute the total loading of effects
on the body. I single pin prick will do little harm to a person.
However, several thousand in a day can lead to a decline in health.

What do you say?

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