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The Santa Cruz City Council voted unanimously to uphold the appeal of the Palomar antenna permits.

Tuesday night 2-22-05 the city council voted unanimously to uphold the appeal of the Palomar antenna permits, paving the way for the hotel to continue to host 23 pager antennas and satellite dishes.
The Santa Cruz City Council voted unanimously to uphold the appeal of the Palomar antenna permits.

Tuesday night 2-22-05 the city council voted unanimously to uphold the appeal of the Palomar antenna permits, paving the way for the hotel to continue to host 23 pager antennas and satellite dishes.

Highlights of the testimony included:

City staff reported only the parts of the FCC compliance reports that would not raise any red flags with the public. Their testimony was that the levels of RF on the roof were planned to be no more than 50% of the FCC limit for general public exposure anywhere on the roof, with all of the antennas operating at maximum power simultaneously. They did not mention that the actual measurements of the operational antennas showed levels of 200% of the FCC limit for the general public.

The author of the reports suggested that such levels would be reached only if one were to climb on top of some of the structures on the roof, so as to be in the main beam of the antennas. He also suggested that the levels of exposure some 13 feet above the roof would be in compliance with FCC standards for public exposure some 35 feet from the face of the antennas.

Mike Rotkin was his usual incredulous self, proclaiming that there was no conclusive evidence in any peer reviewed study that showed any significant harm due to microwave radiation at the levels being discussed. He went overboard, however, when he claimed that there was no possibility of the residents of the Palomar being exposed to ANY radio frequency radiation whatsoever from the antennas on the roof. He said “ The Palomar is probably the safest place� when it comes to being exposed to RF radiation from the antennas. He has a point in that the signal from any one of the antennas is essentially zero, right at the base of the antenna. Hence, theoretically, the field strength should be zero right at the base of the antenna. However, it should be pointed out that the antennas are mounted in a 30 ft diameter circle, the center of which does NOT correspond to a point of zero field strength . Hence the argument that the center of the roof of the Palomar ,at least, should have zero field strength is completely bogus. The reports on the subject of how much radiation would penetrate into the top floor of the Palomar assume attenuation factors of 10 db to 20 db or a factor of 10 to 100 for the absorption of the radiation by the reinforced concrete of the roof of the Palomar. Considering that the maximum field strength was estimated to be 50%-200% of the FCC limit on the roof, this leads to the conclusion that the exposure of the people at the top floor can be expected to be no more than 0.5% to 2% of the FCC limit, or about 3 to 12 microwatts per square cm. The actual measurements were only sensitive to >2.5% of the FCC limit and showed nothing either at the top floor of the Palomar or on the sidewalk in front of the Palomar. Since Marilyn Garrett’s micro-alert beeper goes off on the top floor and has been previously estimated to be detecting approximately 1 microwatt per sq cm this seems reasonable. Also these arguments do not take into account the leakage of radiation coming in through the windows after being diffracted or being reflected off of the surrounding buildings, the possibility of which is also discussed in the reports prepared for the Palomar permit review.

Most significantly, at the city council meeting Ryan Coonerty attempted to squelch the debate around the health effects of RFR by pointing out that the city council should only be allowed to hear testimony that falls within the purview of the city council: i.e. either show that the antennas do or do not comply with existing FCC regulations or show that they are or are not aesthetically pleasing. But under no circumstances should the health effects of low level radiation be discussed, because if they are discussed and then the city council votes to deny the permits, then the city could be sued according to the argument that they were really concerned about the health effects and not about the appearance of the antennas. Mike Rotkin disagreed with this position and both allowed debate on the health effects as well as commenting that if he thought the health effects had been demonstrated by any peer reviewed studies that he would have voted to deny the permits regardless of what federal law said about the city council’s power to do so.

Either way, I would have presented essentially the same testimony as I actually did, since my talk focused on what fraction of the FCC limits the radiation levels were at in front of the Palomar.
I managed to get in 3 minutes of testimony about how much radiation was in and around the Palomar. I mentioned that the HF detector that Marilyn Garret loaned to me was inaccurate by a factor of 300-600, as my crude calibration attempts seemed to indicate. (To calibrate the HF detector I merely assumed that my 900 Mhz cordless phone was putting out the full 600 microwatts per sq cm as allowed by FCC regulations, and which seemed to be roughly confirmed by the tri-field meter. And then I proceeded to measure the 450-900 Mhz radiation coming from the Palomar.) I pointed out that the (calibrated) HF detector seemed to indicate that the radiation in front of the Palomar was at 2-6 microwatts per sq cm at 200 ft North or South of the Palomar front entrance. The levels dropped slowly (much slower than 1/r^2) as the measurements were taken as far away as 1600 ft North or South of the Palomar, still showing 1 microwatt per sq cm at a distance of 1600 ft. This was probably due to the increase in the gain of the antennas canceling out the 1/r^2 drop in intensity in the near field of the antennas as the sidewalk begins to intersect the horizontal beam of the antennas far from the building. I initially only did a spot check by measuring just in the z direction with the HF detector.

These measurements were repeated on Wednesday night using the full 3-axis measurement method recommended in the instructions for the HF detector. The antenna on the HF detector should have been further extended for this last set of measurements, but even so, the measurements showed what appeared to be a signal about 2x stronger than that reported on Tuesday at city council, or about 15 microwatts per sq cm at 200 ft and 2 microwatts per sq cm at 1600 ft. These measurements also showed 0.8 microwatts per sq cm inside the Palomar Ballroom, somewhat low considering that Marilyn Garrett’s micro alert beeper went off in this location (it does not go off at 1600 ft unless it is readjusted). These results are not in significant conflict with the estimates of the maximum total radiation from the Palomar as diagramed in the two reports on the subject at the library.

The very next speaker after me seemed to take issue with my testimony as he claimed to have spoken to the manufacturer of the HF detector who claimed that the device was not accurate enough to make the measurements that I was making. I am not disagreeing that the device is inaccurate (off by a constant factor of 600) . However, as long as it is accurate on a relative scale, it can still be calibrated and used to measure field strengths over a wide area and over a wide range of values. My detractor seemed to have the impression that I was attempting to measure the wrong frequency with the device, which is not the case. The catalog description states that the device is good for frequencies from 3Mhz to 3 Ghz. It does read essentially zero in front of KSCO, which is to be expected, since KSCO broadcasts at 1 Mhz. Once calibrated, it seems to be useful for measuring anywhere from 10^-3 microwatts per sq cm up to 6000 microwatts per sq cm (or 10 times the FCC limit for public exposure).

The calibration itself is not a trivial issue and should be revisited if one wants truly accurate numbers. The near field of my cordless phone was somewhat inconsistent in behavior at 2 ft and at 20 ft from the base station. I have settled on the factor of 600 since this was consistent with the maximum probable output of the cordless phone and the maximum sensitivity of the HF detector. But this could be off by plus or minus a factor of 4 or even a factor of 10. Another issue is how close to the cordless phone antenna can a reliable measurement be made. The Dutch to English translation of the instructions are unclear on this point. I am either supposed to multiply or divide by 10 to get the correct answer which is either 3 cm (essentially zero) or 3 meters (beyond the range of the tri-field meter used for the calibration). But the instructions alternately say to do either one or the other. It does seem unreasonable to require that 10 wavelengths pass by before either the electric or magnetic field strength alone would accurately characterize the total field strength.

Ed Porter suggested that I attempt to measure the levels of radiation in the parking garage and the other buildings that are close to the Palomar. His estimate is that if the radiation is below the FCC limit some 35 feet from the antennas then it ought to be 4x less than that at the top of the parking garage closest to the Palomar. But that estimate is made using the new configuration of the antennas which disagrees with the actual measurements of the old configuration by a factor of 4.

Using the HF detector, the RFR level at the top of the parking garage behind the Palomar, when corrected using the calibration factor of 600, is estimated to be no more than 18 microwatts per sq cm, or some 3% of the FCC limit. Note that the Tri-field meter should have been able to read a field of 10 microwatts per sq cm, but read exactly zero during this test. So the exact value of the calibration factor for the HF detector is a small issue which still needs investigation. The estimates given at the city council meeting lead to an expected value of RFR at the top of the parking garage of 6% of the FCC limit, naively assuming the inverse square law applies and that the distance from the center of the antenna array to the parking garage is 145ft as I measured by pacing off the area in question (not 70 ft as Ed Porter originally estimated at the city council meeting). My detractor, Bohdan Pilacinski, recommended that I get in touch with an electrical engineer by the name of Carl Maret. He has a detector that is specifically designed for this type of measurement and which is recommended by the manufacturer of the HF detector. The only problem is that he charges $150 per hour for his services. Or one can purchase the required detector for $2500. I may at some point in the near future publish the raw data from my tests on www.pagesincolor.com so those who are interested my pick it apart if they so choose.

The city council voted 7-0 to approve the permits with the conditions that

1) The construction of the new antenna configuration be completed within 90 days and
2) A radiation emissions study and report be submitted to prove FCC compliance for all affected areas within 45 days after construction is complete.

The previous Santa Cruz.Indymedia threads on this subject can be found at

Meeting rescheduled: santacruz.indymedia.org/newswire/display/15591/index.php and

No permits for illegal microwave towers/antennas on the Palomar Inn: santacruz.indymedia.org/newswire/display/15179/index.php
 
 


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Comments

Re: The Santa Cruz City Council voted unanimously to uphold the appeal of the Palomar antenna permits.

Now THIS is real investigative journalism!

John Thielking, you rock.

So the results still lean in favor of the Palomar, yes? Though with provable margins for error in the equipment available. But nevertheless, the results are so far leaning with, not against, the Palomar?

It also seems that "city staff" are practicing deceit by ommision in defense of the Palomar. That is sad, and suspicious. Anyone smell a bribe?

At the very least, the city should be concerned that their two commissioned studies (predicted vs measured radiation) contradict one another. I wonder if they've ever even confronted this issue?

I agree with Coonerty though, that the City Council should not concern itself with uncodified issues. This is why we have legislation. Health issues are already addressed in FCC regulation, and Santa Cruz Municipal Code contains no further health-related restrictions, true?

The only proper way to approach the health issue, is to have a new law passed first (or current law regarding antenna permits be modified), with perhaps a city-wide moratorium in the interim. Weekly City Council meetings are not for willy-nilly fabrication of unwritten laws, but merely for the application of existing law.

RF health activists should be working to amend city, county, or state law so that all are treated equally, instead of singling out the Palomar for selective and unequal harrassment.
 

Re: The Santa Cruz City Council voted unanimously to uphold the appeal of the Palomar antenna permits.

The results seem to indicate what I have said all along: Continuous exposure to the RF field in front of the Palomar is roughly equivalent to using your analog cell phone for a couple of minutes to 10 minutes per day. Some people are very sensitive to the RF and get headaches even for brief exposure to this level of radiation. 2 hours of exposure to the RF from an analog cell phone has been shown to cause blood-brain barrier changes in rats. So the mechanism for this headache phenomenon is not entirely unjustified.

Ryan Coonerty needs to lighten up and recognize that the city council meeting is just about the only forum where health effects issues can be raised where anyone is really listening. We could write to our members of congress, sure, but those letters would not be broadcast on community TV, as was the Dr. Lee film showing concerns about low level RF, at the city council meeting.

As was mentioned at the city council meeting, Europe has much stricter standards, by a factor of 100, than does the FCC. Much more detailed measurements would be needed to confirm weather or not the Palomar antennas conform to those standards or not, but it appears from what I have seen so far that they may not.
 

Re: The Santa Cruz City Council voted unanimously to uphold the appeal of the Palomar antenna permits.

If cell phone towers and antennas are so safe, why does the federal govt. forbid banning them for health concerns?

However, it does permit banning them for aesthetic reasons. All the better to have a reason to hide them in church steeples or disguise them as trees.

Also, does anyone know if all these zillions of towers and antennas can also be used for radio frequency ID? Tiny chips can be imbedded in merchandise (or people) which enables them to be tracked.
 

Re: The Santa Cruz City Council voted unanimously to uphold the appeal of the Palomar antenna permits.

Great job on this! My high school physics teacher would have loved you! ;-)

I appreciate your report on the city councill meeting. Does Rotkin actually believe that there *no* peer reviewed studies that confirm the health hazards of RF or does he think that the studies from other countries aren't relevant?

Unlike "John, you rule!," I think you and any other concerned citizen should fight this on any legitimate grounds. Though it would be great to go about changing the law at the state level, you are a lot less likely to get results any time soon. A fight at the local level is legitimate for those who are affected by the emissions here and now and could set a precedent for a legal decision at higher level later on.

Keep up the great work!
 

Re: The Santa Cruz City Council voted unanimously to uphold the appeal of the Palomar antenna permits.

I was listening to the stream of the January 13th, 2005 Coast To Coast AM radio show last night. This can be found at www.coasttocoastam.com/shows/2005/01/13.html .
William Thomas ( www.willthomas.net )claims that using a cell phone for as little as 2 minutes can cause penetration of the blood-brain barrier. He reccomends using your cell phone for less than 5 minutes per month.

A quote from his e-book on cell phones "Dialing Our Cells" that you can download for $8 reads:

Swedish neurosurgeon Leif Salford has confirmed that after two minutes of cell phone exposures, the blood-brain barrier fails, allowing proteins to enter the brain. "We think we are on to something very significant" says Salford, who has been studying blood-brain barrier changes since the 1980's. (cited: Electronics Australia Feb 2000)

Electronics Australia is currently not publishing, but it may be possible to get reprints of past articles.

www.rfsafe.com/article-print-429.html details some more of Salford's work, which focuses on exposing mice to cell phone radiation for 2 hours, not 2 minutes, though he also studies effects at lower levels than the levels typical for European mobile phones.
 

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