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Killer Apartment Vs. Persistent Microwave Exposure?

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the will-it-fry-an-egg dept.

Wireless Networking 791

An anonymous reader writes "I am considering buying a penthouse apartment in Manhattan that happens to be about twenty feet away from a pair of panel antennas belonging to a major cellular carrier. The antennas are on roughly the same plane as the apartment and point in its direction. I have sifted through a lot of information online about cell towers, most of which suggest that the radiation they emit is low-level and benign. Most of this information, however, seems to concern ground-level exposure at non-regular intervals. My question to Slashdot is: should the prospect of persistent exposure to microwave radiation from this pair of antennas sitting twenty feet from where I rest my head worry me? Am I just being a jackass? Can I, perhaps, line the walls of the place with a tight metal mesh and thereby deflect the radiation? My background is in computer engineering — I am not particularly knowledgeable about the physics of devices such as these. Please help me make an enlightened decision."

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791 comments

If you are worried about it... (5, Insightful)

AlexiaDeath (1616055) | more than 4 years ago | (#31313844)

Dont buy it. You will worry yourself sick whatever we say.

Re:If you are worried about it... (5, Funny)

DingoTango (623217) | more than 4 years ago | (#31313870)

Agreed. Notice that you referred to the space as a "killer" apartment.

Re:If you are worried about it... (3, Funny)

Z00L00K (682162) | more than 4 years ago | (#31314158)

Don't worry until you have had a radiation team doing measurements in your apartment and found out that the levels are near what's considered unhealthy.

But be prepared to find out that your apartment is considered unfit for living.

Re:If you are worried about it... (5, Funny)

Cryacin (657549) | more than 4 years ago | (#31314178)

Easy one. Just start wearing a tin foil hat. I'm sure some kind soul here would be more than willing to help you out!

Re:If you are worried about it... (4, Insightful)

Tim C (15259) | more than 4 years ago | (#31313918)

In addition, if you are worried consider that future buyers may also be worried. Unless you plan to either die in the apartment or leave it to your children, resale ability and ease of resale may be things you wish to consider.

Re:If you are worried about it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31314218)

Perception is everything.
It doesnt matter if, after serious research, you conclude that its safe. The "public's" perception is that they are not and you wont be able to change that.

Put in a dirt cheap offer based on the resale value.

Re:If you are worried about it... (5, Funny)

noidentity (188756) | more than 4 years ago | (#31314224)

In addition, if you are worried consider that future buyers may also be worried. Unless you plan to either die in the apartment or leave it to your children, resale ability and ease of resale may be things you wish to consider.

Look on the bright side: if he really does die from the microwave radiation, he won't have to worry about resale value.

Get a gun. (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31313952)

Get a gun. Then, make an appointment with the landlord. Explain your fears and phobias (about microwave radiation) to the landlord. Wave the gun back and forth while you are talking.

Ask the landlord to relocate the cell-phone towers.

This strategy is quite effective in dealing with obstinate landlords. I should know since I'm serving time for 1 count of voluntary manslaughter.

Do you use a cell phone? (3, Insightful)

afc_wimbledon (1052878) | more than 4 years ago | (#31313994)

Every time you do you are holding the antenna of that right next to your head. Yes it's lower power, but there's an inverse square distance law at work to, so the intensity is massively greater than that from the one 20 feet away. So either buy the apartment, or stop using cell phones. They are the only two logical choices.

Re:If you are worried about it... (1)

mrpacmanjel (38218) | more than 4 years ago | (#31314086)

There have been numerous studies worldwide about the effects of these transmitters and so far I don't think there is any proof of ill-effects.

Logically you should be fine.

However, it all depends how you feel about being so close to the transmitter. We are emotive creatures not logical creatures.

If you bought the apartment would you look over your shoulder evrytime you think about it?

If you have doubts then maybe it's a bad idea.

Stock up on microwave popcorn (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31314160)

No muss, no fuss. It'll be easy.

On the other hand, soon, yes, you'll sprout either wings or horns.

If you want to know, no, I wouldn't. Period.

Re:If you are worried about it... (1)

Blowit (415131) | more than 4 years ago | (#31314202)

If you still want to buy it, ask your Landlord to mesh it. It is his responsibility to protect his tenants.

Yes, you are being a jackass (2, Insightful)

dnaumov (453672) | more than 4 years ago | (#31313846)

If exposure to mobile carrier antenna radio waves was of any danger to public health, there is no way you would be seeing these antennas anywhere near apartment complexes, the FCC or whatever is the appropriate authority is in your country would be all over this. On the contrary, you should be happy that your apartment is going to get some pretty damn good coverage :)

Re:No, he's not being a jackass (5, Interesting)

frozentier (1542099) | more than 4 years ago | (#31313896)

The FCC enforces on a case-by-case basis. Unless someone has turned this situation (this SPECIFIC apartment being this close to a transmitting antenna) to the FCC, then chances are that they have no idea the situation even exists. As for my $0.02, you don't want to spend any more time than you have to being 20 feet from a transmitting antenna, LET ALONE living next to one.

Reaches for my robe and tin-foil hat (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31313922)

I have a feeling over the next decade we're going to hear of a lot more studies into the long-term effects of these signals. We will see revelations similar to the asbestos/cigarette debacles, and our younger generations will simply ask us "how could you think they wouldn't have a negative effect on you??".

Unfortunately I can only see things getting a lot worse before they get better as developing nations begin to embrace mobile phones/wireless devices.

Re:Yes, you are being a jackass (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31314010)

Well well I would not be that fast to say that this could not be an health issue. There is enough evidence that radiation can be hazardious. However we are not sure of what type and energy levels are unhealty.

Resently though it has been shown that mobile phones are a not that bad as first anticipated. On grown up it can hardly be an issue at all. Though on childen it's evident that a modern mobile phone does heat up their brain while beeing on a mobile phone. It's not known what the effects of this in the end are. But that is reason enough to be carefull.

When it comes to antennas of the kind you describe I have no Idea of the energy levels, but I do doubt that they would be any lower than of an mobile phone. If you want to make sure you can measure the energy levels and compare them to energy levels of a mobile phone and make your conlusions out from that.

Some people take this to extreems, but you might also consider usage of window blinds. Aluminium or some other neath loocking type. That would moste surely give you a shielding that is enough without being a jackass nutcase. Grounding would that be an totally overkill, i dont know?

Re:Yes, you are being a jackass (4, Informative)

tagno25 (1518033) | more than 4 years ago | (#31314124)

800+ watts in the 2.4ghz band is a known killer.
Most consumer devices run at under 5 watts.
Amateur radio operators have been using devices that can put out 5 to 1500 watts since the 1930s (possibly earlier)

Re:Yes, you are being a jackass (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31314082)

If exposure to asbestos was of any danger to the public health,[sic] there is no way you would be seeing asbestos anywhere near apartment complexes.

Do you know this expression? (4, Insightful)

BerntB (584621) | more than 4 years ago | (#31314122)

You are probably right, because it would need a conspiracy to hide research results. But... remember the tobacco companies' bought research.

A while ago, I learned a new expression which I've never seen in my native Swedish media -- which do say something about at least Sweden's political trustworthiness:

Regulatory capture.

Re:Yes, you are being a jackass (5, Informative)

GreatBunzinni (642500) | more than 4 years ago | (#31314138)

Is that why it has been observed that children living under power lines had a 70% increased risk of leukemia? [newscientist.com]? Is that why DDT has been sprayed directly onto people as a standard anti-mosquito practice? [wikipedia.org]. Is that why asbestos has been used extensively as an insulator and structural material? [wikipedia.org] Is that why lead paint has been the standard paint for home renovation and art? [wikipedia.org] Is that why gasoline is carcinogenic? [wikipedia.org] Is that why wet Portland cement causes serious health problems which include severe burns that damage nerves? [osha.gov]

Just because something is banal, widely used and is seen as an accepted practice it doesn't mean that it is perfectly safe and free from any nasty side effects. History has a pretty long damning list of cases where the dangers are only known after the stuff that causes them is widely deployed.

Re:Yes, you are being a jackass (4, Informative)

Madman (84403) | more than 4 years ago | (#31314238)

The studies that found a higher risk of leukemia in children didn't control for family income or any other social factors. It was correlation which isn't particularly useful

Re:Yes, you are being a jackass (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31314176)

If exposure to asbestos was of any danger to public health, there is no way you would be seeing it used anywhere near apartment complexes.

Re:Yes, you are being a jackass (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31314234)

Oh yeah, the phone companies don't have enough money to pay off the regulatory authorities which govern whether or not they can place a cell phone tower somewhere.

Look, man, if you can afford a Manhattan penthouse why not keep looking for one in a safer location? Of course, one less rich asshole in the world won't bother me a bit.

On the upside, no worries about poor reception (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31313848)

Wow, you'll actually get a phone signal! Brilliant!

Personally I would be a little worried, and certainly wouldn't sign a contract to buy the place until you had the research. The signal power will reduce by the cube of distance from the masts, so 20ft might be okay, whereas 10ft could be a real issue.

Re:On the upside, no worries about poor reception (2, Informative)

tapanitarvainen (1155821) | more than 4 years ago | (#31314006)

The signal power will reduce by the cube of distance from the masts

Square of the distance, actually.

Re:On the upside, no worries about poor reception (2, Insightful)

dukw_butter (805576) | more than 4 years ago | (#31314016)

The intensity of the radiation varies inversely with the square of the distance, not the cube of the distance.

Re:On the upside, no worries about poor reception (1)

hardie (716254) | more than 4 years ago | (#31314208)

Square of the distance assumes a point source.

I think in this case the signal won't be dropping off nearly that fast.

Steve

Easy (5, Funny)

acehole (174372) | more than 4 years ago | (#31313850)

Tin foil suit.

Re:Easy (1)

MadMagician (103678) | more than 4 years ago | (#31313964)

Really, a Faraday Box would totally make this a non-issue.

It's OK to have some holes in them, like for a door. Minor perturbation (use conformal mapping to verify).

Math is fun!:)

On the plus side, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31313854)

you'll get great reception.

depends what you mean by "facing" (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31313856)

If it's a simple dipole antenna and its long axis is aimed at you, there should be minimal exposure. The power emission profile looks kind of like a doughnut with the long part of the antenna at the middle.

Re:depends what you mean by "facing" (2, Informative)

jibjibjib (889679) | more than 4 years ago | (#31314150)

Cell towers (panel antennas, as described in the summary) are not dipole antennas.

recent cellphone radiation reports (1)

phil42 (24711) | more than 4 years ago | (#31313860)

i suggest that you read the recent (and not so recent) reports that show greater risk of cancer under cell phone radiation.

Re:recent cellphone radiation reports (5, Insightful)

jabuzz (182671) | more than 4 years ago | (#31314066)

And then fail utterly to find a controlled study that shows repeatable results.

Lets make this clear, in over fifty years of trying nobody and I repeat nobody has yet managed to do a REPEATABLE study that shows harmful effects of low level non-ionizing radiation.

The key factor here is REPEATABLE. If it cannot be repeated it is just a meaningless statistical fluke.

not expensive to use wire mesh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31313862)

If it bothers you in any case, it doesn't cost a lot to line your walls with appropriate size mesh, it's a good opportunite to mend and paint walls/change wallpapers as well. I certainly do it.

Re:not expensive to use wire mesh (2, Interesting)

Greventls (624360) | more than 4 years ago | (#31313914)

The FCC may have something to say about that though. If he is close enough, his mesh may block enough of the signal to put the antenna out of use.

Re:not expensive to use wire mesh (5, Interesting)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 4 years ago | (#31314000)

Are there any laws against passive shielding inside your flat? After all, you could simply put standard metal office furniture inside your flat, and that would cause massive interference, too. I'd say, if the phone company doesn't want the signal to be blocked by whatever is inside a flat, it should put the tower somewhere where it won't be blocked by something inside a flat.

Re:not expensive to use wire mesh (1)

tagno25 (1518033) | more than 4 years ago | (#31314154)

the furniture would be small enough for the RF to go around, but a faraday cage the size of a apartment would be a bit too large at 20 feet

Insert small coil (4, Interesting)

DiamondGeezer (872237) | more than 4 years ago | (#31313864)

If you're that close, you should be able to put a small coil of wire in your apartment and induce a nice free electric current. It won't make you popular with the owners of the antenna but what do they know? Otherwise no, I don't see a problem with RF.

Re:Insert small coil (2, Interesting)

Angstroem (692547) | more than 4 years ago | (#31313878)

We're talking about cell phone here, not military-strength microwave radar signals :)

Would really astonish me if he could even light up a energy-saving lamp with the cell-phone signal.

I'd pass (3, Insightful)

mariushm (1022195) | more than 4 years ago | (#31313872)

I wouldn't risk living there.

As far as I know (and I'm no expert, just good at googling) , the radiation levels from antennas are relatively safe about 3-5 meters away from them but depending on the type of antenna their beam can kind of focused in one direction so that 3-5 meters estimation could mean a measurement ouside the beam direction and if the apartment is inside the beam the radiation could be above safe levels. For example, I've heard that in my country, if you live on the last floor of a building and an antenna is above, the antenna must be on a pole at least 2-2.5 meters high so that distance between the apartments below and the emitter is around 3 meters.

Cellphone antennas would not be uni-directional so there shouldn't be any focused beam or whatever it's called but who knows what other antennas will be installed in the future on the same pole.

So from a radiation point of view you may be safe, but you never know how sensitive you are or how sensitive your family / children etc will be.

Second, while you may not care so much, the property will be harder to sell in the future because of that antenna.

Re:I'd pass (1)

dltaylor (7510) | more than 4 years ago | (#31313948)

cell-phone radiation isn't spherical.

by design, there is more emission in the plane of the array than straight up or down.

Re:I'd pass (1)

tagno25 (1518033) | more than 4 years ago | (#31314194)

Cellphone antennas would not be uni-directional so there shouldn't be any focused beam or whatever it's called but who knows what other antennas will be installed in the future on the same pole.

A directional antenna or beam antenna is an antenna which radiates greater power in one or more directions
An omnidirectional antenna is an antenna system which radiates power uniformly in one plane with a directive pattern shape in a perpendicular plane

Cell phone transmitters are directional. There are usually three sets of antennas (One transmitter per set and one or more receivers) facing in different directions.

Try before you buy... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31313884)

See if you can stay a few nights. If you start to glow in the dark, you'll want to decide between fathering children or making another investment!

On the plus side, you'd no longer need a reading lamp!

Perfect! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31313890)

Or, now that GSM decryption is possible:

1) Start recording conversations
2) Sift through for credit card orders
3) ???
4) Profit!

I'm not an RF engineer (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31313900)

But RF is mostly LoS (Line of Sight), anything blocking is reflected, absorbed or transmissive.

If you have solid walls (eg concrete), I wouldn't worry about it. Glass, you should be okay. But if it's like wood or plaster, the particles in these materials don't really block anything, so it's mostly transmissive. That's why you may get great reception in a wood frame house, but not in it's basement.

Basic analogy:

If you put a translucent material in front of a lightbulb, you can see the lightbulb, but if you put metal foil, you can see around the foil. Therefor you reduce, but not eliminate your exposure.

If you are seriously worried, grab a CFL tube or a large fluorescent light and hold it outside and inside the building. If it actually glows outside the building, I'd be wary. If it glows inside the building, don't buy it.

mod do3N (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31313906)

FREeBSD PROJECT, brilliant plan

Manhattan, Not Kansas (1)

Greventls (624360) | more than 4 years ago | (#31313908)

This is Manhattan, not Kansas. You'll be fine. The power of the antenna in this case is restricted by the larger number of cell phone users in the city. Because of the population, the antennas fill up their bandwidth in a much smaller area. The antenna may only have enough power to cover the city block before it fills up. If it was powerful enough to cover more area than it can serve with cell coverage, there would be interference with other antennas trying to cover those edge areas.

Re:Manhattan, Not Kansas (1)

tagno25 (1518033) | more than 4 years ago | (#31314236)

Are you sure it is not is not Manhattan, Kansas?

You are correct about the range (it probably covers multiple blocks), but there has to overlap so that there are fewer dropped calls

Conductive films, cloths, or plastics... (4, Informative)

TheDarAve (513675) | more than 4 years ago | (#31313910)

There is a product called Scotch-Tint that is a EMF reducer for windows. Combine that with some metallic fabrics on the walls on that side. www.lessemf.com is one of many suppliers for those products. I've used a conductive plastic from those folks to make a shielded rack for some RF sensitive equipment.

It's not microwave (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31313930)

I am not sure if you were meaning microwave in the strict sense, as a microwave ant pointed at your building would be dumb. Microwave transmissions are very directional. GSM or CDMA are going to be much lower, and mostly benign. You probably have attended a church or worked in a building that has them. You're around them all the time. Also, cellular systems are cellular. Meaning, their transmit power is relatively small so that the frequency can be reused across the same town for obvious freq management reasons.

Every visitor will ask (3, Insightful)

Moskit (32486) | more than 4 years ago | (#31313936)

Even if you get some information from /. and you buy it, you will need to explain that it's safe to every visitor who notices these antennas.

The facts about urban wireless towers (5, Informative)

George_Ou (849225) | more than 4 years ago | (#31313942)

The facts about urban wireless towers is that they're very low power because of the high population density. They use very small cells in urban towers to achieve a very small coverage radius so that they can put up more towers in the city and reuse the same spectrum. Furthermore, just being in-doors cuts the power level 10-fold and I'd really doubt that you're getting more than -40 dBm which is equivalent to 100 nanowatts of power even if you're outside the windows. My Wi-Fi Access Point is 5 feet from me and it's got a power level of -13 dBm which is about 1000 times stronger than a -40 dBm signal. Now if you think that's high, your cell phone probably has a signal strength of +10 dBm which means the power density is 100,000 times stronger than a -40 dBm signal. And if you think the phone is dangerous, check out this article from me http://www.digitalsociety.org/2009/09/sar-ratings-are-not-a-measure-of-radiation/ [digitalsociety.org] and this article http://www.digitalsociety.org/2010/01/cell-phone-exposure-prevents-or-reverses-alzheimer-in-mice/ [digitalsociety.org]. So really, worrying about that cellular tower is just silly. If you're really worried about it, buy one of those $100 "Electrosmog" meters and measure the signal strength yourself at various places.

Re:The facts about urban wireless towers (4, Insightful)

matt4077 (581118) | more than 4 years ago | (#31314042)

I find it interesting that after many years of stories about the impossibility of cellphone radiation having any damaging effect due to its low power, we suddenly hear this story about the positive effects it has. One of the two can't be true. I don't share the paranoids' obsession with radiowaves, but I'd like to know what if anything was wrong with the earlier assessments.

Re:The facts about urban wireless towers (2, Interesting)

George_Ou (849225) | more than 4 years ago | (#31314192)

The earlier "assessments" were based on weak studies and half truths (http://www.digitalsociety.org/2009/09/half-truths-on-cell-phone-dangers/). All the studies that found potential dangers were based on tiny sample populations. All the studies that showed no danger were based on massive sample populations.

Re:The facts about urban wireless towers (1)

l0b0 (803611) | more than 4 years ago | (#31314266)

I find it interesting that after many years of stories about the impossibility of cellphone radiation having any damaging effect due to its low power, we suddenly hear this story about the positive effects it has. One of the two can't be true.

On the contrary, almost everything you get in touch with has positive and negative effects. To take the current example, the radiation might have a statistically significant effect on temperature, bacterial growth rate, electronic equipment or something completely different. Some of these might be positive, some might be negative, and some (probably most) will be either depending on other factors.

Re:The facts about urban wireless towers (1)

stefanb (21140) | more than 4 years ago | (#31314118)

Why do you think a sector antenna would be emitting only -40 dBm? That is on the level of a micro- or nano cell. The maximum allowable is well north of 10 kW EIRP, so even if that cell is tuned down to only cover a small sector, it still will be putting out 40 to 50 dBm. Otherwise, as you rightly state, reception inside builings would be nearly impossible.

I don't particularly believe in electro-sensitivity, so wouln't be too concerned even with that number, but I still would feel a bit uneasy about potential power levels. Maybe it's worthwile checking FCC permits for this particular site and the actual max. EIRP they're allowed to push out. Shielding those walls with copper mesh wall paper probably puts you right with the tinfoil hat brigade, but might avoid potential interference of any wireless equipment you might want to use.

Re:The facts about urban wireless towers (5, Informative)

George_Ou (849225) | more than 4 years ago | (#31314260)

A sector antenna typically boosts power levels by 15 dB due to the fact that it "concentrates" the radio waves towards a certain direction. But because of the "boost", the radios in the urban towers reduce their power output considerably. In fact, typical urban power levels are 10 watt ERP (with actual radio power of half a watt) is common (see http://www.fcc.gov/oet/rfsafety/cellpcs.html [fcc.gov]).

But this assumes that the sector antennas are aimed directly at his prospective apartment unit. If they're not aimed at him, the power levels are far lower than just the bare .5 watt radios because the power that would have gone towards him are being redirected by the sector antennas. But even if he's in the hot zone for those antennas at 20 feet away, I really doubt his power level is more than -10 dBm which is still really low compared to your own cell phone. Furthermore, having that much signal just means you'll get less overall exposure because your cell phone can use much lower power levels.

Now the original post mentioned "panel antennas" which are highly directional and typically used for backhaul. Those I'm almost certain aren't facing his apartment because that would kind of make those antennas useless since they need a clear line of sight.

Re:The facts about urban wireless towers (1)

Ropati (111673) | more than 4 years ago | (#31314216)

George probably has it right.

This is low level non-ionizing radiation, so the only real effect is body heating. Generally body heating is dispersed (except in the eyeballs and testicles) by the flow of body fluids. It takes a lot of power to heat a human body (even eyeballs). There probably isn't enough heat being generated in your body by radio wave absorption to be measured.

However you do sleep in one position. These types of antennas are highly directional and they could have hotspots. Cell towers operators don't care about RF hazards except to satisfy the FCC. If you are worried, you could put some grounded foil on the wall between your bed and the antenna and make a modified tin foil hat.

cell tower next to village (5, Funny)

tokul (682258) | more than 4 years ago | (#31313946)

Mobile company raised cell tower next to some village. Locals complained about health problems caused by this tower. When contacted cell company CEO replied:
- That's nothing. Wait and see what happens when we turn it on.

For what it's worth (2, Insightful)

Serious Simon (701084) | more than 4 years ago | (#31313992)

In 2004 the Dutch laboratory TNO investigated the influence of UMTS and GSM radiation on two groups of people, one with health complaints they ascribed to GSM base stations and one without. The tests were double blind. For both groups a small, but statistically significant relationship was found between exposure to "UMTS-like" radiation and the sense of wellbeing reported by the subjects. This result was a disappointment to the Dutch government, that had commissioned this investigation. They had subsequent research done by a Swiss institution which did not confirm the findings. Anayway, the city of Hoofddorp, where I live, forbids the placement of cellular base station antennas on top of residential buildings. I support this policy; better safe than sorry.

Re:For what it's worth (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31314206)

What did they actually test and what did the actual report say? Can you link to it? I'm asking because it certainly seems to be an outlier.

Atticfoil - insulate your appartment... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31313996)

....and save on your heating bill. At least that is what you tell the FCC when they want to know why the tower signals are getting blocked. http://www.atticfoil.com/

It may be fine, but do you want to risk it (1)

jgreco (1542031) | more than 4 years ago | (#31314008)

There's been a lot of propaganda on both sides of this issue, and a lot of reasons to be skeptical. Since the jury's still out on the dangers of cell tower radiation, the big questions here would seem to be: 1) Do you feel like being a guinea pig? 2) If you do something like making your apartment into a Faraday cage, are you opening up a different can of worms, such as, can the cell carrier take action against you? Probably not, but for a purchase as major as this, you'd probably want to check with a lawyer... 3) How much time and expense do you put into something like this?

no one knows for sure (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31314020)

please keep /. posted with your medical records (even after you've vacated)

1. Placebo... 2. Precautionary Principle (1)

gobbo (567674) | more than 4 years ago | (#31314028)

You no buy.

First, just the shred of doubt will have some effect on your well being. Not just through stress, but through placebo effects.

Second, this is a relatively new risk of exposure for the species and investigations into it are relatively weak. Seems like a good time to deploy the Precautionary Principle.

Buy an apt exposed to trees or a view, instead.

live webcam please! (0, Flamebait)

lkcl (517947) | more than 4 years ago | (#31314036)

hey, can we ask you a favour? given the likelihood of you being able to post on slashdot should you die of radiation-related disease, could you please put a webcam in your apartment, so that if you die everyone can know that they shouldn't live 20 ft away from celltowers that transmit up to 2 watts peak to anything up to 2,000 users, simultaneously? consider your potential death by proximity to around ooo 4kW microwave radiation to be a public service.

There are a lot of variables (5, Informative)

Leghorn (44886) | more than 4 years ago | (#31314038)

I work with high power RF for a living. There are a lot of variables that contribute to non-ionizing radiation. Proximity, transmitter power, antenna radiation pattern, materials between you and the antenna, etc. There are ways to estimate the field intensity, but unless you know all the necessary factors, your calculations could be off by orders of magnitude. Having said that, the poster who commented that urban cells are lower power is generally correct, however, in a major metropolitan area, the cell can have many channels active at once, and the effect is cumulative. ANSI C95.2 is the safety standard covering this radiation. It's pretty technical, but the gist is the licensee (in this case the carrier) is responsible for making sure they don't cook the public.

The carrier must certify to the FCC that there are no publicly accessible areas that receive unsafe RF fields. The exact number varies by frequency, but generally there are two levels specified, one for publicly accessible areas and another for areas where personnel who have been trained in RF can work in levels above the public ones. These areas are normally calculated by the carrier prior to installation and they won't install if there's any chance they might exceed the safe levels.

As an example, I did an RF survey at one location where there was a multiple-transmitter FM antenna installed on top of a building that was across the street from another taller building. We had three FM broadcast transmitters operating on this antenna with about 250 kilowatts of radiated power, and the measured levels in the building across the street were not over the limits for public access. This was about 150 feet horizontally from the antenna. The solar coating on the building's glass stopped enough RF that it wasn't a problem.

If you want to measure it yourself, there are some inexpensive meters that are pretty accurate that will give you an indication of how much RF you're seeing. The one I have is this one: http://www.trifield.com/TrifieldMeter.htm It's about $150. I've seen these for sale at Fry's.

I have calibrated mine against a $5000 Narda commercial RF radiation meter and it's pretty close, certainly close enough for a "go/no-go" test which is what I use it for.

Re:There are a lot of variables (1)

EmagGeek (574360) | more than 4 years ago | (#31314076)

Wish I had some mod points to give you. Attention everyone - this is one of the best posts in the thread.

Re:There are a lot of variables (2, Insightful)

rugger (61955) | more than 4 years ago | (#31314110)

Many of the solar coatings used on windows are electtrically conductive.

This was probably why the glass was absorbing a lot of the FM radio energy.

buying leverage (1)

geoskd (321194) | more than 4 years ago | (#31314040)

When / if you make an offer, make sure that it includes an allowance for modification of the structure to make it "radiation safe". Take the allowance and pocket it, thereby saving you a bunch of money on the upfront side.
Be prepared for the next purchaser to use this same pretext when you sell, and price accordingly.

Even better: once you own the property, create a B.S. LLC and use it to certify the property as "radiation safe" Then provide the certificate, the "radiation data", and the receipt for the radiation exposure study, when you go to sell the property. Then you get the best price coming and going...

-=Geoskd

Measure the Radiation from the Tower (1)

dukw_butter (805576) | more than 4 years ago | (#31314050)

One person said "The power of the antenna in this case is restricted by the larger number of cell phone users in the city." And, it is true that the radiation intensity is inversely proportional to the square of the distance from the source. I personally think that you should attempt to measure the radiation from the tower. Then, you could decide if you needed to turn the apartment into a Farraday cage.

Please put a meat thermometer in your thigh . . . (1)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 4 years ago | (#31314058)

. . . and send a message to /. with the subject, "DING! DING! DING!", just before you are "done."

So we will all know that it is dinner time, and we can come over to eat you.

I got dibs on the braaaaiiiiinnn.

On the serious side, ask the seller If you can put a couple of lab rats in a cage for a month in the apartment, before you settle. If they end up looking like Kentucky Fried Rats, pass on the apartment.

Normally... (4, Insightful)

DiSKiLLeR (17651) | more than 4 years ago | (#31314072)

Normally I wouldn't worry at all.

But the fact that,
1) It's only 20 feet away,
2) It's in the same plane as you, and,
3) It's pointed AT you...

That worries me some more. Obviously you want to talk to someone who really knows this stuff, and can also measure the EM radiation in your future apt.

I also assume its a 'killer' apt because its in a great location and its CHEAP. And of course, its CHEAP because everyone is scared of the antenna pointing right at it...

I heard... (2, Insightful)

cyberjock1980 (1131059) | more than 4 years ago | (#31314094)

Ok, there's alot of sentiment that EM radiation has no effect on DNA, etc etc. But I had read somewhere that people that live near power lines out in the country seem to develop extremely rare forms of cancer at a higher percentage than people living in the city. Of course, coincidence is not causation.

With that in mind, do I exclusively use a cell phone? Yes. I just don't know if I'd want to live next to a tower that might focus EM radiation right at my room while I sleep 8 hours a day.

Re:I heard... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31314204)

I think the theory behind powerline cancer is that the lines attract all sorts of nasty dust that people breathe in. It's not EM that is being blamed.

Re:I heard... (2, Informative)

Sowelu (713889) | more than 4 years ago | (#31314214)

I'm too lazy to find links, but the counter-anecdote I've heard is that the cancer was tied to the herbicide they used to nuke the ground where they wanted to put the power lines. They used one big standardized REALLY NASTY herbicide across the country because, well, you're trying to build them as cheap as possible, so you want to kill the undergrowth as fast and as dead you can. Turns out it got into the water/air/children playing/whatever.

Again, though, this is just another anecdote too, until you look up some real research.

You make an awful lot of money for an engineer (2, Interesting)

RonVNX (55322) | more than 4 years ago | (#31314100)

If you can afford a penthouse apartment in Manhattan, you're making an awful lot of money for a computer engineer. Where can the rest of us get jobs like yours?

Re:You make an awful lot of money for an engineer (1)

geoskd (321194) | more than 4 years ago | (#31314130)

If you can afford a penthouse apartment in Manhattan, you're making an awful lot of money for a computer engineer. Where can the rest of us get jobs like yours?

That's easy, create a successful start-up. Duh.

-=Geoskd

Re:You make an awful lot of money for an engineer (1)

RonVNX (55322) | more than 4 years ago | (#31314220)

A successful startup? Try again. He's talking about a Manhattan penthouse. That's Trump money not startup money.

Re:You make an awful lot of money for an engineer (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31314180)

Duh. The point of the article was not celltower radiation, but to let everyone know that he has a penthouse in Manhattan.

Tomorrow I'm going to ask what sort of MP3 player to get for my Ferrari.

Comfort (1)

AniVisual (1373773) | more than 4 years ago | (#31314114)

Regardless of its effects on your health, EM radiation can heat up deep under your skin. I wouldn't buy that apartment, as I'd then be anticipating continuous uncomfortable heat.

Re:Comfort (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31314164)

ROFL. If he grabs the antenna while it's transmitting, then, sure, yeah, an RF Burn is likely to occur,which is what you appear to be describing.

But from 20-30ft away ? Not an issue

Faradays Cage, Measure it! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31314116)

You may be able to eliminate radiation exposure by creating a faradays cage around your appertment. This means you will put chicken wire fencing against the exterior wall and maybe a finer type over the windows. That will reflect any radiation (look into it to be sure). Also ther must be a way to determine the level of RF in the appartment, there is expert equipment to measure it, that may not be to costly.

Field strenght meter (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31314148)

Why not do this scientifically? Get/procure/rent/borrow a field-strength meter, or hire someone to measure it for you. It's cheap relative to the price you're looking at for a top-floor place in Manhattan.

Then, measure it. Walk all around, sometimes internal reflections can make a further-away side 'hotter' than a closer one.

Then measure your cell phone, right up close a cm or two from the front, as if you were holding it.

The readings will probably be in decibels (dB). Calculate (db of tower) - (db of cellphone). The difference is how much stronger the tower is compared to the cellphone. It goes in powers of 10. 0 dB is equal power. 10 dB is 10x the power. 20 dB is 100x the power. 30 dB is 1000x the power. And so on. If it is negative, it is weaker, by similar power-of-10 ratios.

Then make a decision depending on what you find. Same or less power than a cellphone, you're OK. 10x the power is probably still OK but you'll have to decide depending how you feel about it all. 100x the power, maybe reconsider.

Police radio tower gave me headaches (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31314162)

I lived next to a police station for the majority of my childhood. Perhaps 40 feet away from one of those big old police radio towers. I had chronic headaches to go along with food allergies and other illnesses.

Then one year the police moved to a new location, and the tower stopped doing anything. My headaches instantly went away. I've been a lot healthier since then, too.

I never actually made the connection until my mother told me years later, so that rules out my mind/placebo. ;)

I do believe cell towers push out less power than that big old radio towers from the 1980's - but I'd still be cautious, given my personal experience. You're also an adult, and it's quite possible that it has no effect on adults. One of the deficits of modern testing and certification is no child trials; FCC safe could just mean 30-year-old-man safe.

Remember you have to sell it eventually (1)

mlush (620447) | more than 4 years ago | (#31314188)

Don't buy, If your having doubts, anyone who you try and sell it to may have the same thoughts and avoid it.

If this is reflected in the price all well and good, but all you need is a really Juicy Scare story when you put it on the market to really sour the deal.

whois playing the 'race' card now? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31314200)

why the US 'banking' system et al. who do they hate? they do feel justified. they have to.

the corepirate nazi illuminati is always hunting that patch of red on almost everyones' neck. if they cannot find yours (greed, fear ego etc...) then you can go starve. that's their platform now. they do pull A LOT of major strings.

continued God's speed to you Mr. President.

never a better time for all of us to consult with/trust in our creators. the lights are coming up rapidly all over now. see you there?

Anonymous Coward (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31314210)

The good point is that you won't need heating, you'll always be hot ;-)

Here's what some experts say... (1)

beguyld (732494) | more than 4 years ago | (#31314268)

http://electromagnetichealth.org/quotes-from-experts/ [electromag...health.org]

Also, worth carefully reading the Wikipedia entry: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mobile_phone_radiation_and_health [wikipedia.org]

From the Wikipedia article:

Sleep, EEG and waking rCBF have been studied in relation to RF exposure for a decade now, and the majority of papers published to date have found some form of effect.

So there is SOME kind of an effect, and we don't understand it yet. Those that scoff at any biological effect at all are fools. Wise men don't scoff, they watch carefully and reserve final judgment. Take a close look at quantum physics if you don't think we live in a mysterious universe...

Since there IS some kind of biological effect, and it is not well understood, I would err on the side of caution. I would most especially not want to chance affecting the DNA of a women's eggs (which already exist her whole life) and/or conceiving children in that environment. Maybe the chance of problems is low because the signal "should" be low inside the building, but why take the chance when experts are disagreeing and the trend is toward more caution? (cue the inevitable joke about a real woman there... sigh...)

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