Resident concerned with proposed cellphone tower

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BIBLE HILL - A proposed cellphone tower for Ryland Avenue isn't sitting well with some residents in the area.

William Burgess looks at a map of a proposed cellphone tower that Eastlink is looking at building on an adjacent property to Burgess's in Bible Hill.

William Burgess and his wife, Carrie, have sent a letter voicing their concerns to Colchester County council, Cumberland-Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley MP Scott Armstrong, and other interested parties, including Eastlink, the company proposing the tower.

"We got a notice in the mail from Eastlink regarding the proposed telecommunications tower and at first, it wasn't all clear as to where that could be going," said Burgess, 37, a father of three boys under the age of seven.

"The letter didn't name the specific street address, it only had a PID number. To the average person, that PID means nothing."

Pulling out a map of his property, a property that's been in his family for more than 100 years, Burgess realized the proposed 42.7 metre monopole would be only a couple hundred feet from his home.

"Those things aren't safe," he said of the cellphone towers. "Cellphone towers are seen in other areas - you would expect to see them on a lonely mountain top and away from houses."

In the letter he composed, Burgess said there have been a number of studies he has come across with evidence linking long-term exposure to radiofrequency (RF) energy from cell towers with cancer and other health problems.

"Health Canada's own website states, ‘In 2011, the International Agency for Research on Cancer classified RF energy as "possibly carcinogenic to humans,"' the letter said.

"Even if it says ‘possibly carcinogenic,' do we ignore that potential, or do we err on the side of caution and say, ‘let's be safe?'" Burgess said.

"A lot of people are fearful of these towers. Even as a child, I always heard people saying never buy a home near the big towers like the ones you see in the fields because you can get cancer."

Allan Sullivan, community relations advisor, said he's had contact from one resident with concerns over the tower.

"I did send some information on Health Canada regulations," Sullivan said. "Ultimately, Health Canada regulates the health and safety surrounding exposure of cell phone towers and we do operate within those regulations. Our towers are well below those regulations actually."

Sullivan didn't have any particulars about how much power and the output of RF energy the tower would emit, but said they would fall in the parameters of ‘Safety Code 6' through Health Canada, which has established safety limits for human exposure to RF electromagnetic energy in the frequency range from 3 kHz to 300 GHz.

Burgess confirmed he did talk with Sullivan and that Sullivan sent him information linking to studies showing there are no health effects of cellphone towers.

"But I have seen studies from India, Germany and Brazil showing there are cancer clusters around those towers," Burgess said, noting he found that exposure limits in China, Russia and India are "100 times more stringent than Safety Code 6."

Burgess met with Colchester County Mayor Bob Taylor on Tuesday.

Just after meeting with Burgess, Taylor said he is always willing to meet with residents when they have concerns, especially when it comes to the health of those residents.

"We're always concerned if someone has concerns about their health," he said.

"I've asked him to make a submission so it can be brought before council so we can have our staff look into it further."

Taylor also noted that the proposed tower has met all the regulations set out before them, including those regulations by Health Canada.

"Eastlink is always very diligent with those regulations and the proposal is within the limits that we have now," he said.

Residents with any questions or concerns can get in touch with Sullivan.

"We are still in the process of getting information together and will continue to share that information," Sullivan said.

For those with concerns, Sullivan can be reached at (902) 789-9954, or

Twitter: @TDNRaissa


Organizations: Health Canada, Colchester County council, International Agency for Research on Canada

Geographic location: India, Germany, Brazil China Russia Colchester County

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Recent comments

  • Emma Bauman
    September 24, 2013 - 14:18

    My son is one of those children living with William and Carrie Burgess on Ryland Ave Biblehill, NS. I am totally AGAINST this proposed cell tower going up in the neighborhood due to the prolonged health risks from the rays these towers gives off. These towers shouldn't be placed around residential areas. They should be out of town.

  • Mark McInnis
    September 24, 2013 - 12:59

    I oppose the proposed cell tower on Ryland Ave in Bible Hill, at least until more definitive information is available that proves the SC6 levels are safe. As a former resident of Truro, William and Carrie Burgess are long-time close friends of mine and I am concerned for them and their 3 young boys. I keep thinking what if it was my child exposed? I do not blame them one bit for presenting this concern to the public because it would obviously go nowhere (and seemingly hasn't) behind closed doors. Also, I can verify as a friend of his for over 30 years that William is not the type of person to mindlessly oppose something for the sake of "making a fuss"; I can tell you with certainty that he has done his research and is genuinely concerned about this issue for the long-term health of his family. Who the heck wouldn't be? For those people on here taking a "you are over-reacting" or a "let the government handle it" approach, silence is your prerogative, it's a free country (sort of), but if the tower was going in your back yard, what would you do? I for one would be doing the exact same thing as William and Carrie if I were in their situation, even if I didn't have children. As an environmental geoscientist who has worked in the Nova Scotia environmental industry for the last 15 years, one of the things we regularly screen for when competing entry level environmental assessments (i.e. Phase I ESAs) on any property (i.e. commercial, industrial, agricultural, etc. - not just residential) is the presence of nearby sources of potential continuous electric and magnetic frequencies (EMF) such as high tension transmission lines and electric substations. Identification of potential sources of EMF is mandated Canada-wide in a Canadian Standards Association (CSA) standard (CSA Z768-01). Just for background, some other potential human health or environmental concerns that require identification in a Phase I ESA include asbestos, lead paint, PCBs, sources of oil contamination, radon gas and a myriad of other potential concerns that we all KNOW can result in health problems. So if EMF is not a concern, why bother assessing it? I do not know if radio frequency has the same effect on humans as EMF as I am not a doctor, but the way I see it is if the CSA standard stipulates that potential sources of EMF must be identified, then it stands to reason that radio frequency waves could also pose a threat to long-term human health, especially when exposed continuously...we can shut the microwave off (plus it is sealed in a protective case) and we can "choose" when and how long to put a cell phone to our ears. William and Carrie will be exposed to the RF waves through a medium they cannot control or seal themselves off from (i.e. the atmosphere), and they will be continuously exposed once the tower is my knowledge they do not "shut off". Since there have been studies completed over the short term on the effects of exposure, the issue as I see it is what is considered "long-term" exposure? From the literature I've looked at, there are no studies completed over a sufficient enough time span to be considered a "long term" study that would take into account a person living next to a tower for their entire lives. This concerns me as a citizen and with the recent exponential growth of the construction of communication towers throughout populated areas, I think it is a very realistic question to ask...what are the human health effects from long term exposure to EMF and RF waves? As of right now, I don't if anyone has a verifiable answer to this question yet. Why not err of the side of caution until such information is available? Best Regards, Mark McInnis

    • Art Tricque
      September 26, 2013 - 23:56

      Microwaves have been transmitted in the open environment in Canada since the 1950s, and over wide areas since the 1960s, with now obvious ill health effects being detected to humans or the environment when standards that prevent heating are in place. How much longer should we wait? BTW< those standards include safety margins of several orders of magnitude already beyond the heating effect limits. How much tighter should they be?

  • sir
    September 18, 2013 - 18:46

    If you are really interested in the danger of These frequencies you can watch a good documentary on YouTube: Resonance Beings of Frequency

  • Nathan Burgess
    September 18, 2013 - 12:29

    First of all, there was a typo in the original article. The proposed tower is only 200ft from their house. Health Canada's website provides a rather incoherent assessment of the risks associated with RF energy. First of all, they conflate the risks associated with cell phones with those associated with cell phone towers. Radiation risks are a result of the frequency used, the power emitted, and exposure time. Cell phones, while operating on the same frequency, emit a fraction of the power that a cell phone tower emits and can be turned off or placed away from the user when not in use. A cell tower emits significantly more power than a cell phone, and cannot be turned off. This high power output coupled with constant exposure represents the risk associated with cell towers. The Health Canada website cites studies that suggest there may be a link between RF energy and cancer; however, they state that the preponderance of studies do not support these findings: In 2011, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified RF energy as "possibly carcinogenic to humans". The IARC classification of RF energy reflects the fact that some limited evidence exists that RF energy might be a risk factor for cancer. However, the vast majority of scientific research to date does not support a link between RF energy exposure and human cancers. At present, the evidence of a possible link between RF energy exposure and cancer risk is far from conclusive and more research is needed to clarify this "possible" link. This suggests that the scientific community has not definitively determined the risks associated with all types of RF energy. Health Canada then states that more research is warranted, given this uncertainty: "Health Canada is in agreement with both the World Health Organization and IARC that additional research in this area is warranted." They then go on to discuss ways to minimize the risks associated with cell phone use, including: "limiting the length of cell phone calls, using "hands-free" devices, replacing cell phone calls with text messages. Health Canada also encourages parents to take these measures to reduce their children's RF exposure from cell phones since children are typically more sensitive to a variety of environmental agents." This clearly suggests that Health Canada does have concerns regarding the risk of even low power cell phone RF exposure, particularly around children who they say are more sensitive. However, in the same article, Health Canada states the following regarding cell towers, which are much more powerful. "Precautions to limit exposure to RF energy from cell phone towers are unnecessary because exposure levels are typically well below those specified in health-based exposure standards." Thus Health Canada expresses uncertainty and concern regarding the risks associated with RF exposure from low power cell phones, particularly around children, but state no concern for the well-being children living around high power, constantly emitting cell phone towers. This doesn't make sense. It is based on these incoherent Health Canada guidelines that authorities deem cell phone towers safe in a residential neighborhood? Would you want your children to be the guinea pig?

  • William Burgess
    September 18, 2013 - 11:15

    The proposed tower is about 200 feet from my house, not 200 metres.

  • colton smith
    September 18, 2013 - 04:13

    You never hear any complaints from the guy who lives on Penny's Mountain in North River, he has lived there for years, and there is not one but three communications towers only a few hundred meters away from his house...the largest one being a microwave tower... So lets put this into perspective... Burgess is concerned about Eastlink building a radio tower a few hundred metres away from his house but yet he has a device in his kitchen known as a "microwave oven" that puts out enough electromagnetic radiation to heat up anything you place inside the box. Im also willing to bet he also has one of those communication devices called a cellular telephone which admits radiation that he holds up to his head as well, as most of us do. Now which do you think is safer having a tower a few hundred metres away from your house or having a device that admits electromagnetic radiation only a few feet from where you are standing waiting for your supper to heat up?

    • wayne
      September 18, 2013 - 06:46

      We all know what the problem is here, it's not the microwaves cus they're everywhere, It's the sight of having a tower, period! Check out this site and take it to your next meeting with gov officials. It's time for a change here too, as there are many towers like this in Cape Town SA.

    • Carl
      September 18, 2013 - 15:45

      Colton. Yes lets put this into perspective, please. Perhaps the people on Penny's mountain has had health issues and not tied them to the towers. A microwave antenna is NOT omnidirectional. They operate on a very tight focused transmission pathway and should not be used as a comparison for what may be going to happened on Rylan ave. 1st generation microwave ovens were slightly unsafe. They are perfectly safe now as long as the seals are clean and unbroken and the interior oven is not rusted. Using your microwave for 10 mins a day does nothing to your health. Cell phones emit micro wattage when broadcasting or receiving. They pose no measurable threat to humans. 7.5 billion phones world wide and no tumors yet. The big concern with cell service is and always has been the towers. even when in rest mode with no connection to the tower 4g class antennas need 35 watts per element to be in attention mode. so if the tower has 3 elements when idle is broadcasting 105 watts. No mind you that's digital but still could be considered by many to be unsafe. Now if it is being erected under the E911 act which most cell companies hide behind it will go forward no matter what people say. Go ahead Mr. Burgess reheat your dinner it's perfectly safe. Don't be concerned with bloated alarmist responses. Carl

    • Carrie
      September 18, 2013 - 18:32

      Colton, the cell tower is 200 feet away from the property in question. Maybe, you could put it in your backyard if you are so in favor of these towers. Besides that, microwaves and cell phone can be turned off or positioned away from your body, the cell tower will be sending waves constantly. Would you want your children growing up next door to something that could pose major health risks?