PARIS – The Mayor of Paris has halted construction of additional cellular phone towers to the city’s roofs this week, according to Le Monde. The City established a pact in 2003 with mobile service providers to allow certain companies to construct cellular towers on municipal buildings within stated limits. The decision to stop construction of the towers coincides with the end of the city’s contract with the mobile service companies.
Paris is the only city in France to have an agreement with cell phone companies which limits the exposure of electromagnetic waves to two volts per meter over 24 hours. The mayor has accused the French Telecom Federation of allowing exposures of up to 15 volts per meter, levels that some reports deem unhealthy.
The European Environmental Agency reported in 2007 that health risks are associated with electromagnetic waves, though the threshold of a “dangerous” level remains highly contested worldwide. Some advocacy groups like Ecoforum, based in the south of France, insist that levels above 1.5 volts per meter pose health risks. In a public test at the beginning of this month in Marseille, Ecoforum’s president, Hugo Espinoza, tested emissions with a smart phone that registered eight volts per meter.
Despite the uncertainty of any imminent health risks, the 186 current cellular towers which spike the skyline of Paris may soon be removed. Deputy Mayor Mao Péninou told Le Monde, "We are also looking at legal options for the facilities currently in place. They are no longer serving as experiment sites, so we will see how we can legally dismantle them."
While Parisians can rejoice in the improved visual aesthetics of removing the cellular towers, the discussion on cell phone use continues in France. Last Saturday, the French Association of Environmental health launched a new study in the south of France to study the effects of the waves in social housing structures. Researchers hope to re-evaluate the safety French volt exposure limits, which remain higher than other European countries.
Photo: Robert Young