IAFF, which represents more than 85 percent of the professional fire fighters and emergency medical personnel across the United States and Canada, is seeking funding for a study to establish if the use of fire stations as cellular phone base stations for antennas and towers is hazardous to the health of its members.
"There currently is no good scientific study that determines whether or not cell towers on fire stations are hurting our members, so a study must be done," said IAFF General President Harold A. Schaitberger.
"Fire fighters are already at a higher risk of injury and illness from the hazards of their job," Schaitberger added. "But we will not accept our members being put in additional danger while at the station house from exposure to low-intensity radio frequency and microwave radiation that is emanated from these cell towers and antennas."
It is the general belief of international governments and of the wireless telecommunications industry that no consistent increases in health risk exist from exposure to radio frequency radiation. However, said Schaitberger, "critical questions concerning the health effects and safety of radio frequency microwave radiation remain. We want answers, not the biased opinions of cell phone industry groups."
Most studies on this subject are at least 5 years old, and generally look at the safety of the phone itself. IAFF members are concerned about the effects of living directly under these stations for a considerable stationary period of time and on a daily basis.
The IAFF and its medical team believe a study with the highest scientific merit and integrity, contrasting fire fighters with residence in stations with towers to fire fighters without similar exposure, is necessary to truly determine the effects of radio frequency radiation on the central nervous system (CNS) and the immune system, as well as other metabolic effects observed in preliminary studies.
Biological effects from exposure to low-level radio frequency microwave radiation have been recognized as markers of adverse health effects. Some researchers have shown that radio frequency microwave radiation transmissions of the type used in digital cellular antennas and phones can have critical effects on cell cultures, animals and humans in laboratories.
Studies have also found epidemiological evidence of serious health effects at "non-thermal" levels, where the intensity of the radiation was too low to cause heating, including increased cell growth of brain cancer cells, changes in tumor growth, more childhood leukemia, changes in sleep patterns, headaches and neurological changes, decreased memory, retarded learning, increased blood pressure and other health hazards.
The IAFF's efforts will attempt to establish a correlation between such biological effects and a health risk to fire fighters and emergency medical personnel due to the citing of cell phone antennas and base stations at fire stations and facilities where they work. For a full copy of the IAFF report on the potential risk of cell tower radiation, visit www.iaff.org.