LENOX — Where is the safest place to build a cell tower? What do residents need to know as the era of 5G technology emerges?
The Tri-Town Health Department will address such questions during an upcoming online educational forum featuring two presenters who have focused on the “biological risks” of wireless technology.
“I’m always looking forward to new thoughts and ideas,” said James Wilusz, executive director of Tri-Town Health, which serves Lee, Lenox and Stockbridge.
In a phone interview, Wilusz emphasized that Tri-Town Health is not taking a position on any claims of health-related risks posed by cell towers.
“Our role is simply to provide a platform to learn more about this,” he said. Tri-Town is the county’s only regional health department.
“The forum is in response to calls we received from our towns asking us about cell towers and health,” he said. “I felt like there was an opportunity to host a forum to get more information.”
The 90-minute discussion, including a half-hour allotted to questions submitted in advance, will begin at 6:30 p.m. Monday via Zoom. It will be recorded and scheduled by Community Television for the Southern Berkshires on Channel 1301 or Channel 1303 for Spectrum cable customers and also will be available on demand at ctsbtv.org.
The presenters of the discussion are Cecelia Doucette, a technical and professional writer who contends that “wireless technology brings biological risks,” and Jonathan Mirin, a “safe technology educator” and part-time resident of Charlemont who co-founded Hilltown Health, a grassroots environmental group serving communities west of Greenfield.
In their announcement, they described the forum as “a discussion about scientific and policy developments regarding the health effects of electromagnetic radiation exposure from cell towers/antennas, and what citizens, policy makers and health care professionals need to know to make informed decisions for their communities.”
The forum is aimed at concerned residents, parents, neighbors, municipal leaders, legislators, lawyers, health care professionals, school administrators and educators, and organizations “wanting to understand the wireless radiation issue surrounding 4G/5G infrastructure installed in their communities, the health and environmental impacts, safe technology solutions and what other countries and municipalities are doing to balance the technological expansion with safety and consideration for its citizens,” they said.
Wilusz, who will introduce the online forum, emphasized that Tri-Town Health, based in Lee, and its affiliated local boards in Lenox and Stockbridge “have no opinion at all and we do not have a position on health risks. We need published peer-reviewed studies.”
He made it clear that the discussion will not delve into the controversy surrounding cell tower permitting in a south Pittsfield residential area where Verizon Wireless recently built an antenna amid fierce opposition from neighbors who said they never were notified about the project.
“The presenters have been made aware that it’s not a platform,” Wilusz said, “it’s an educational forum, and the goal is not to opine.”
According to her biography, Doucette has “shifted her career to study the issue, educate the public and affect policy change.” Doucette, a resident of Ashland, leads Massachusetts for Safe Technology, a public interest group promoting “the use of biologically safe and fiscally responsible technology in homes, schools, communities and workplaces.”
Doucette also co-founded Wireless Education, a nonprofit advocacy group promoting “education and training for the safer use of wireless technology and the reduction of microwave radiation exposure,” its website states.
Mirin speaks and consults about “electromagnetic pollution reduction” and works with town officials through Hillside Health to promote safe technology and to update local telecommunications bylaws.
The goal is to provide residents and organizations with information “so they can make informed decisions about their wireless exposure and how they want wireless infrastructure [antennas and cell towers] installed in their communities,” Mirin wrote in his biography. “The driving force behind this initiative is the nationwide [and global] rollout of 5G technology which will require a massive densification of antennas in and around the places where we live, work, learn and play.”
The presenters pointed out that a proposed low-power antenna could be placed atop the Curtis state-subsidized housing complex in downtown Lenox. The Curtis is managed by the Lenox Housing Authority, which is evaluating responses to requests for proposals to construct the antenna.