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Antenna Safety - RF Cafe Forums

The original RF Cafe Forums were shut down in late 2012 due to maintenance issues. Original posts:

Amateur Radio | Antennas | Circuits & Components | Systems | Test & Measurement


Nathanvoite
 Post subject: Antenna Safety
Posted: Wed Aug 20, 2008 6:41 pm 
 
Lieutenant

Joined: Wed Aug 20, 2008 6:31 pm
Posts: 2
There is a lot of media coverage about the possible dangers of cell phones. I think that the real public health issue is cell towers and workers being exposed to very high levels of RF radiation (higher than the fcc IEEE/ANSI standard). A cell phone may put out 300 milli-Watts, but a tower may transmit at several hundred Watts continuously. Think of the roofer, the HVAC repairman, or the firefighter who unknowingly stands in front of an antenna head. I think this is very big issue for the Cell companies. Any thoughts?


 
   
 
Kirt Blattenberger
 Post subject:
Posted: Wed Aug 20, 2008 8:59 pm 
 
Site Admin
User avatar

Joined: Sun Aug 03, 2003 2:02 pm
Posts: 451
Location: Erie, PA
Greetings Nathanvoite:

I get quite a few calls from strange people looking for information. One not too long ago was from a lawyer in Brooklyn who claimed to be representing a client - a septegenarian - who was suing a cell tower company for installing a tower on the roof of his appartment building. He lived on the top floor, directly under the tower, and claims to have been experiencing severe medical maladies ever since it was installed. Symptoms included headaches as well as skeletal joint aches. I kind of dismissed it as some huckster with his reptile lawyer just looking to make a quick buck - even suggested that the next doctor his client saw might want to be a psychologist 

Maybe the poor guy really was being cooked by the tower. I can believe that a poor installation would possibly direct some of that energy in his direction, but you would think that if it were enough to turn him into a crispy critter, that the service company would detect the loss in power (i.e., customer complaints about call quality).

Hmmmm......

The lawyer pestered me for two or three days looking for references and resources. After spending quite a few hours of my time talking to him on the phone and providing a lot of information, I never heard from him again. Never once did he even thank me for my effort. That's why I generally detest lawyers (and most headhunters).

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nubbage
 Post subject:
Posted: Thu Aug 21, 2008 5:05 am 
 
General
User avatar

Joined: Fri Feb 17, 2006 12:07 pm
Posts: 236
Location: London UK
Hi Kirt
Because I claim to be a telecom consultant, not surprisingly there have been many attempts to drag me into this controversy.
I only resist doing this "ProBono" by remembering something a rapacious CEO once brazenly claimed to my very face: "Since the abolition of slavery, the most easily exploited human being is the engineer."


 
   
 
Nathanvoite
 Post subject:
Posted: Thu Aug 21, 2008 1:52 pm 
 
Lieutenant

Joined: Wed Aug 20, 2008 6:31 pm
Posts: 2
I think it all comes down to the standard.

If a worker can prove that he was exposed to RF Radiation above the standard set by IEEE/ANSI and FCC http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/cfr_2004/octqtr/pdf/47cfr1.1310.pdf
Then that worker has claim on the FCC Licensee and/or property owner.

I don't take claims of people "Feeling" the RF hurting them very seriously. Third party workers however, frequently come into close proximity to antennas. Since they may have zero RF training, they may not even know a hazard exists.

http://touchngo.com/sp/html/SP-6139.htm
This is an Alaska Supreme Court case where a worker was awarded full disability because he was exposed to RF slightly above the FCC limit.[/url][url][/url]


 
   
 
Kirt Blattenberger
 Post subject:
Posted: Thu Aug 21, 2008 8:51 pm 
 
Site Admin
User avatar

Joined: Sun Aug 03, 2003 2:02 pm
Posts: 451
Location: Erie, PA
Greetings:

nubbage wrote:
Hi Kirt
"Since the abolition of slavery, the most easily exploited human being is the engineer."


That's pretty sad, and totally believable. Just remember that a lot of the fodder for Dilbert comics are provided to Scott Adams by real-world engineers.

Regarding serious exposure to RF, I told this story in more detail somewhere before, but here is the short version.

Back while in the U.S. Air Force as a radar technician, the Sgt. assigned as my trainer was giving me instruction on how to align the circular polarizer on our S-band search radar system. The guy was a stickler for safety and doing things by-the-books. After setting all the safety switches and hanging warning signs all over the place (no actual lock-outs), we climbed up to the antenna on the roof. He threw the safety switch at the top of the ladder to disable the antenna rotation motor. Aligning the circular polarizer involved using wrenches and some feeler gauges. Adjustments were made from the front of the feed horn. He sat down, spread out the tools, and after give me some verbal instruction, set about taking the cover off the feed horn. A moment after getting in front of the feed horn, he pulled back quickly and asked me if I heard a strange sound. No, I hadn't heard anything. He swung back into position and immediately pulled back again. Sarge was shaking his head and commented about the loud noise he had heard again. Suddenly he got up and rushed down to the transmitter and discovered that it was still powered on. That was not a happy sergeant. No one else was around, so he must have been responsible for the Tx being on. Poor guy, he was really freaked out for a few days - probably expecting to die suddenly at any time. I know that he lived for at least three more years until I got out of the service.

It is scary what we are all capable of doing to ourselves, regardless of how careful we are.


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