Susan Foster Ambrose, M.S.W., Medical Writer
P.O. Box 3605
Rancho Santa Fe, CA 92067
INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF FIREFIGHTERS (IAFF) VOTES TO STUDY
HEALTH EFFECTS OF CELL TOWERS ON FIRE STATIONS
Call for Moratorium on New Cell Towers on Fire Stations Until Health
Effects Can Be Studied
Boston, MA - August 24, 2004 - Firefighters returned to their home
stations throughout the United States and Canada following last week's IAFF
convention after passing a resolution to study the health effects of
cell towers placed on the fire stations where they work and live.
Added to the resolution was an amendment calling for the IAFF to
support a moratorium on the placement of new cell towers on fire stations until
the completion of the study.
In many parts of the U.S. and Canada, the wireless industry has sought
to place cell towers on fire stations because of their strategic locations.
Fire stations tend to be located in densely populated areas, many of
them near main highways, making them attractive locations for cell towers to
maximize coverage. The wireless industry is not alone in the benefits
of placing cell towers on these stations. Municipalities receive revenue
from the wireless companies in exchange for locating the antennas on fire
Lt. Ron Cronin of the Brookline, MA Fire Department and Acting Lt. Joe
Foster of the Vancouver Fire Department and Vice President of Vancouver,
B.C. Local #18 spearheaded the passage of the resolution.
"Some firefighters with cell towers currently located on their stations
are experiencing symptoms that put our first responders at risk. It is
important to be sure we understand what effects these towers may have
on the firefighters living in these stations," Cronin explained. "If the
jakes in the fire house are suffering from headaches, can't respond quickly and
their ability to make decisions is clouded by a sort of brain fog, then entire
communities they are protecting will clearly be at risk. No one wants
the guys responding to their family emergency to be functioning at anything
less than 100 percent capacity."
A recent pilot study of six California firefighters, first publicly
revealed at the IAFF convention by medical writer and study organizer Susan
Foster Ambrose of San Diego, CA, raises concern about the safety of fire
fighters working and sleeping in stations with towers.
The study, conducted by Dr. Gunnar Heuser of Agoura Hills, CA, focused
on neurological symptoms of six firefighters who had been working for up to
five years in stations with cell towers. Those symptoms included slowed
reaction time, lack of focus, lack of impulse control, severe headaches,
anesthesia-like sleep, sleep deprivation, depression, and tremors.
Dr. Heuser, along with Dr. J. Michael Uszler of Santa Monica, CA, used
functional brain scans - SPECT scans - to assess any changes in the
brains of the six firefighters as compared to healthy brains of men of the same
age. Computerized psychological testing known as TOVA was used to study
reaction time, impulse control, and attention span.
Disturbingly, the SPECT scans revealed a pattern of abnormal change
which was concentrated over a wider area than would normally be seen in
brains of individuals exposed to toxic inhalation, as might be expected from
fighting fires. Dr. Heuser indicated the only plausible explanation at this time
would be RF radiation exposure. Additionally, the TOVA testing revealed
among the six firefighters delayed reaction time, lack of impulse
control, and difficulty in maintaining mental focus.
Because of increasing complaints among firefighters with cellular
antennas on their stations coupled with the California study showing damage
among the six firefighters tested, a group of five individuals spread across two
provinces and three states worked with Southern California firefighters
to draft the resolution put before the IAFF membership last week. Lt. Ron
Cronin and Acting Lt. Joe Foster were joined by Dr. Magda Havas of Trent
University in Peterborough, Ontario, Vermont-based Janet Newton -
president of the EMR Policy Institute, and Susan Foster Ambrose.
"It is imperative to understand that in spite of the build out of an
extensive wireless infrastructure in the U.S. and Canada," explained
Ambrose, "we have no safety standards for cell towers. There are only
regulatory standards, not proven safety standards. The Heuser Study in
California calls into question whether or not we are sacrificing the
health and well being of our countries' first responders for the convenience
of a technology we've come to rely upon."
Considering approximately 80 percent of the firefighters attending last
week's convention voted in favor of a medical study with the spirit of a cell
tower moratorium attached, it appears firefighters throughout the U.S.
and Canada share that concern.
This study has far-reaching public health implications in view of the
fact that the wireless industry pays local governments to place cell towers,
not only on fire stations, but also on top of schools and municipal
For more information contact:
Susan Foster Ambrose: 858.756.3532; firstname.lastname@example.org
Lt. Ron Cronin: 617.212.5670; email@example.com
Acting Lt. Joe Foster: 604.250.5727; firstname.lastname@example.org
Magda Havas, Ph.D.: 705.748.1011 x 1232; email@example.com
Janet Newton: 802.426.3035; JNewton@emrpolicy.org
Gunnar Heuser, M.D., Ph.D., F.A.C.P.: 818.865.1858; www.toxgun.com
J. Michael Uszler, M.D.: 310.264.0080; www.santamonicaimaging.com