Cell Tower Locations & Applications

Takoma Park Cell Antenna and Tower Information

On Wednesday, April 17th the City Manager announced that the City's request to have a representative on the Montgomery County Tower Commission was approved.  Public Works Director Daryl Braithwaite will be the representative, with Ian Chamberlain (construction manager) as the alternate. It looks like the first meeting they will attend will be on May 1.

Locating Cell Tower Applications: Montgomery County and Takoma Park

Cell tower location and application information is published on the Montgomery County Transmission Facilities Coordination Group (TFCG) although it is difficult to find and use. Here we attempt to bring forward the important information that we have to dig around for.

On the TFCG | Tower Locations page, you will see a link to an excel spreadsheet that is apparently updated every time a new application is received so that could be daily. It's best to check the Tower Locations page frequently to ensure you are viewing the most recent antenna/tower application information. On that page you will see the following text:

"Tower Locations: To access the electronic database that contains information about all antenna and tower sites, all public sites, all buildings of certain heights, all public property, and other data helpful to providers and the public, please click the button below." You can download from their site, or view the excel database in the viewer we provide here. (Remember: The excel spreadsheet located on the Tower Locations page is updated frequently, sometimes daily, so check there for the latest information.)

Excel Viewer will load the excel spreadsheet in your browser window

Excel viewer: "MC Database 5_17_19.xlsx". This database has records under the Rcvd column from  02-Jul-96 to 10-May-19. At the lower right corner of the viewer you can expand to view full-size workbook. You may find it easier to download and view the document on your desktop which makes it easier to sort the columns. (Remember: To ensure you are viewing the latest information, go directly to the Tower Locations page and download the database. It is updated very frequently--sometimes daily.) If you sort by city, you can view the Takoma Park locations.

Montgomery County Links
Telecommunication Facility Coordination Group (TFCG)

TFCG | ZTA Web Site

Montgomery County TFCG web site with lots of information including background on ZTA 18-11 which failed to pass last fall thanks to strong leadership from Tom Hucker and strong resident opposition. Other documents in PDF and EXCEL formats can be found there including tower application information, and a tower database excel sheet "MC Database 4_23_18.xlsx" which is obviously not the latest excel file available as we previously described in this post.

We have questions about the application requirements and approval process for wireless facilities attached to building rooftops including:

  • What are the guidelines for the number of antennas that are allowed on top of a building?
  • What are the FCC emissions standards that apply to these installations and are all of the antennas tested after installation and certified to be in compliance with the FCC standards?*
  • What types of applications require emissions testing?
  • What types of applications require public notice and public input?
  • If required, is the emission testing of antennas done for individual antennas? Is it done for each carrier's collection of antennas? Is it done for the entire collection of antennas attached to a building regardless of carrier? From what location or proximity to the antennas are the RF emissions measured? Where can the testing documents, certifications, or other paperwork be found?
  • Are surrounding buildings, homes, schools, parks, and geographical features factored in when selecting the number of antennas, the type of antennas, the radiation patterns, the power and other settings?
  • Does the Tower Committee keep track of the total radiation impact of all of the antennas as they are installed and upgraded?
  • Are the carriers' antennas filling a coverage gap? If not, why are they being installed?
  • What are the qualifications of the Tower Committee staff and City staff for determining the existing radiation from antennas is within safety limits and whether or not the approval of additional antennas and cumulative radiation would continue to be within FCC guidelines, such as they are?

*It is worth noting that the FCC emissions standards haven't been updated in decades, were based on the technology at the time and the way it was used at the time... generally on towers off in the distance away from people. Much research has been done since then.

What is the evidence of the harm caused by radiofrequency radiation?

There are thousands of archival biomedical research papers, published in peer-reviewed journals, that have shown that radiofrequency radiation is harmful to the body in one way or another.  These have been collected and reviewed in a number of summary documents.  Here are just two examples:  (1) BioInitiative 2012, draws on about 1800 publications (https://bioinitiative.org/); (2) EUROPAEM EMF Guideline 2016 for the Prevention, Diagnosis and Treatment of EMF-Related Health Problems and Illnesses, draws on 308 references (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27454111). ("EMF" stands for electromagnetic fields, a term inclusive of radiofrequency radiation.)

In 2011, the International Agency for Research on Cancer of the World Health Organization classified radiofrequency radiation as a Group 2B Human Carcinogen ("possibly carcinogenic"), naming explicitly "wireless phone" radiation (cellular radiation), based on the increased risk for glioma.  Glioma is a malignant type of brain cancer that is usually fatal.  It most recently took the life of Senator John McCain and Beau Biden, the son of Vice President Joe Biden.  (https://www.iarc.fr/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/pr208_E.pdf)

In 2018, a massive study by the National Toxicology Program at the National Institutes of Health linked cellular radiofrequency radiation (RFR) to cancer of the nerves of the heart (schwannomas), to cancer of the brain (glioma), and to multiple other health effects in test animals.  (https://ntp.niehs.nih.gov/results/areas/cellphones/index.html)

In 2015 and continuing, 247 scientists from 42 nations signed an appeal to the United Nations, described below.  These scientists have "published peer-reviewed papers on the biological or health effects of non-ionizing electromagnetic fields" (which are inclusive of radiofrequency radiation).

"Address the global public health concerns related to exposure to cell phones, power lines, electrical appliances, wireless devices, wireless utility meters and wireless infrastructure in residential homes, schools, communities and businesses."  (https://www.emfscientist.org/)

For more information on the health effects of radio-frequency radiation, please see the website of the Environmental Health Trust, and mystreetmychoice.com)

To learn more about reducing your radiation exposure, please view our subsection "Resources".