Opinion » Editorial

Cell Tower: When in doubt, err on the side of protecting kids.

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Last week's article, "Tower Tussle," has ignited a lot of debate in the comments section of our website. The story discussed the debate over a proposed 5G cell tower at Trinity Episcopal Church, located adjacent to Amity Creek Magnet School in downtown Bend. Church leaders have not made a final decision about whether to allow Verizon to install the tower, which would garner income for the church—a church that does much to support the lower-income people of our community.

As the article points out, some studies have indicated a link between some types of cancer and chronic exposure to radiofrequency radiation. Some European countries even go so far as to mandate a barrier of 1,500 feet between cell towers and schools.

Other studies have been less conclusive about the link between cancer and RF radiation, and the Federal Communications Commission has said that the exposure at "ground level" is thousands of times less than the federal limits.

Some studies say one thing. Other studies say the opposite. Because of that uncertainty, we agree with one commenter who pointed out that when there's doubt, we should err on the side of caution. While it's nice to imagine that this debate is needless and that none of us are at risk from the exposure that higher-powered cell towers pose, looking at the research from both sides does not give us a conclusive answer.

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We are not taking the position that yes, this type of RF exposure does indeed cause harm to the developing body. But nor are we taking the opposite position that there is no harm. Arguments for and against are both strong—and when that's the case, we believe a cautious approach is best. Given the uncertainty, church leaders should act in the best interests of their community and look for other ways to raise revenue.

Meanwhile, the church and the school are neighbors, and if one is struggling, the wider community could step in to support the other. Keeping the "separation of church and state" ever in mind, many public school communities have developed meaningful relationships with churches in which both sides offer manpower, financial support, assistance with fundraising or other forms of mutual support.

Perhaps the next step, then, is for the Amity community to reach out to the Trinity community and ask, "How can we help?"

But for now, let's err on the side of caution, in the interest of protecting children.


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