\Cell phone antennas will likely dot the City College campus despite some faculty and residents’ health concerns.
Verizon Wireless, which still needs the approval of the Planning Commission, will pay the school $2,575 a month to add antennas to existing towers on the school’s science building. The school’s board of trustees voted to approve the deal on one of its campuses because it did not deem the possible exposure to radiation unsafe.
The cell phone company said it chose the site because the campus had one of the highest rates of dropped calls during peak usage in The City.
"Ourcoverage on this campus is not good, as evidenced by the dropped calls," said Sam Lauter, a consultant with Verizon. "Every community college in California has a Verizon antenna. This is the only community college without one."
There are about 2,400 cell phone antennas at between 400 and 500 locations in The City, according to a 2003 Planning Department study.
Douglas Loranger of the San Francisco Neighborhood Antenna-Free Union, a group of residents who work to prevent the installation of antennas, said public schools in Berkeley and Los Angeles will not contract with cell phone companies because of health concerns and that City College should follow their lead.
Jenny Badger, a teacher in the college’s art department for 32 years, said several teachers did not support the towers because of health concerns.
Nancy Evans, a health science consultant with the Breast Cancer Fund, said that while there is no concrete evidence there have been 30 years of scientific studies that link chronic microwave radiation exposure from cellular antennas to serious, potentially life-threatening health effects, including leukemia and other cancers.
"The telecom industry says these antennas are harmless, [but] once upon a time the tobacco industry said the same thing," she said.
Lauter said students and teachers on the campus would be exposed to about 0.22 percent of the acceptable amount of radiation allowed by the Federal Communications Commission. Trustee Julio Ramos, who opposed the deal, said residents’ complaints should be taken seriously.
"I’m afraid to put a Bluetooth piece in my ear. That scares me," he said. "So when people come up with this issue you have to respect them. There are people who say this is poison. [That] we are poisoning the students."