FIRE FIGHTERS OPPOSE TOWERS ON STATIONS–cell-phone-tower-emissions-okay-report

Tower rises. Cell phone towers, such as this one on North Service Rd. in the shape of a cross, are causing headaches for City councillors as they continue to pop up across Mississauga.

Cell phone tower emissions are well below acceptable limits for human exposure, City councillors heard today when Mayor Hazel McCallion read excerpts from a Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care report.

The issue of cell phone towers has become a contentious one in Mississauga. It has caused headaches for residents and councillors because the towers can be plunked down in communities with no control by the municipality (Industry Canada is responsible for such towers and has authority over their placement).

Homeowners in the Mineola, Oakridge and Clarkson communities have all fought battles against such towers in the past year, citing the unknown possible health risks and that the structures could affect property values.

McCallion said the report, which used data from a number of studies, looked at the effects of radio frequency emissions on people. The mayor read from the report, which stated the typical levels of radio frequency energy emitted by the towers are 1,000 times below the specified limits for public exposure.

However, councillors seemed skeptical and wondered if more research isn’t required.

“In terms of the health issue, I can’t address that, but we can’t turn a blind eye to some of the research that’s been done,” said Ward 2 Councillor Pat Mullin, who’s been a vocal opponent of cell towers.

“Again, I’m not an expert on health, but the more I read the more concerned I get.”

The issue came up near the end of the Council meeting, when McCallion spoke about a letter the City of Mississauga received from Chris Varcoe, president of the Mississauga Fire Fighters Association.

Varcoe expressed concern about plans by the municipality to locate cell towers at City facilities, including fire stations.

“We believe that there are established biological effects from exposure to low-level cell tower radiation,” said Varcoe. “Such biological effects may be markers of adverse health effects, similar to biological markers arising from exposure to toxic chemicals. Therefore, we strongly object to placement of cell towers on our fire stations and request that you carefully consider placements for towers on City properties or withhold the decision altogether until the true health effects are known.”

During earlier budget discussions, the possibility of placing cell towers on City property to generate revenue was talked about.

McCallion said three other unions support the firefighters.

“People are questioning the health effects and the unions are also questioning the health effects,” said McCallion. “Should new research be done on telecommunication towers? Is more research required? I don’t know.”

Ward 11 Councillor George Carlson said there’s plenty of opinions and reports on the health effects, but it’s difficult for the average person to wade through it and make an informed decision.

He said that until the science becomes clearer, the City should use caution when it comes to the towers.

Last month, the City asked Industry Canada to place a six-month moratorium on the approval of cell phone towers in Mississauga so the federal body can review its requirements for public notification.

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