Chimayó cell phone tower threatens public health

By Lucy Collier

We, residents of Chimayó and members of the Chimayó Council on Wireless Technology, are gravely concerned about the construction of a T-Mobile wireless tower in Chimayó that will have significant negative impacts on our community.

The tower has been placed at a sensitive location both in relation to the health effects caused by the emission of non-ionizing radiation and to the integrity of the historical and scenic ambience of our traditional community. The tower is scheduled to go on line at the end of March.

Ordinance 1996-05 of Rio Arriba County regulates wireless towers above 70 feet in height. The T-Mobile tower is just 70 feet tall and therefore does not have to comply with county regulations.

Numerous studies by government, industry and independent researchers document that emissions from wireless towers of any height have been associated with adverse health effects, including blood-brain barrier changes, cancers and immune disorders.

There could hardly be a worse site for the wireless tower in question. The T-Mobile tower looms over the Benny Chavez Community Center, which houses the Chimayó Senior Center, provides space for many community gatherings and has a playground attached.

The Chimayó Conservation Youth Corps is housed not far down the road at the Manzano complex. Nearby are the Presbyterian Church, el Buen Pastor and the Interfaith LEAP Center that provides interdenominational health and social services to Chimayó and neighboring communities. Chimayó Elementary School is farther away but still within the one-mile emission range clamed by T-Mobile company.

Our primary concern is health and safety. But in addition, Chimayó's citizens are proud of their history and of Chimayó's unique natural setting and its special historical and cultural features.

The tower degrades the beauty of the cerros, or hills, that cradle the Chimayó Valley to the east. The tower diminishes the historical integrity of the nearby Plaza del Cerro, the only complete fortified colonial Spanish plaza still remaining in Norther New Mexico. The Chimayó History Museum is housed on the plaza.

The Ortega Weaving Shop, where local weavers have sold their craft for generations, is even closer to the tower. And one views the offensive structure as one approaches the sacred Santuario church, both from the western and southern pilgrimage routes.

Chimayó residents and their representative organizations were never adequately consulted by the T-Moblie company when plans were afoot to construct this tower. Our understanding is the T-Mobile company plans to install additional towers in our community.

The current tower and the planned expansion of this wireless technology alarms us. We request the Rio Arriba County commissioners review this matter at their next meeting. We urge that a moratorium be placed on all wireless tower construction and expansion of current wireless towers in place until modification of the county's wireless-tower ordinance is accomplished to better regulate all wireless towers regardless of height.

# # # #

This letter was signed by members of the Chimayó Council on Wireless Technology including Raymond Bal, Raymond Chavez, Lucy Collier, Chellis Glendenning, Peter Malmgren, Hilario Romero, Lorraine Sandoval, Matthew Trijillo and Daniel Schreck.


Santa Fe Public Library soon to go wireless -- Unless...

Wireless internet is no step forward for public libraries

By Rebekah Azen, MLIS

Would you allow an intruder into your home, office, place of business, the shops & restaurants you frequent, hospitals, schools, parks, playgrounds, government offices and public buildings? Would you allow this intruder to silently undermine your health to cause serious illness, destroy the social fabric and pollute the environment? Are you aware that electromagnetic pollution is that intruder?

Just 10 years ago we were relatively free of electromagnetic pollution compared to today. On average, we are being exposed to electromagnetic radiation (EMR) pollution 3,000 times what we were in 1996 due to the rapid spread of wireless technology. Cell phones -- along with their antenna towers, called "base-stations" -- and wireless internet are the primary culprits of this invasion. Our bodies and our environment are not designed to deal with this electromagnetic assault that is proliferating out of control. The corporations that produce and market this technology - from the transmitter devices, cell towers, cell phones and laptops - are literally making a “killing” off of us.

The latest invasion is on libraries and the Santa Fe Public Library is no exception. The administration is now considering a plan to go wireless in order to allow laptop users access to the internet and possible network services. Everyone ought to be particularly alarmed about this latest threat because:

1) it presents a phenomenal health hazard,

2) would bar access to those who are electromagnetically sensitive,

3) would undermine the services and functions of the public library by redirecting resources for wireless service, and 4) would threaten the historical and priceless role of the public library and transform it into an internet café.

A wireless system is dangerous in itself as it is always emitting microwave radiation 24/7 whether you have a laptop running or not. If you put 5 or 10 or 20 or 30 or more laptops into a wireless capable area, the microwave radiation that everyone in that vicinity is exposed to is exponentially increased. In libraries that have already made this change, they are finding that people with laptops are flooding in. This is creating a very high level of microwave radiation exposure and to say that libraries will become “cesspools of microwave radiation” is not an exaggeration.

I, for one, along with the growing population of electromagnetically sensitive people will not be using the library under these circumstances. It is simply unacceptable that a library, which is an invaluable public resource for information and knowledge, would be polluted in this way, effectively barring access to many, many people who either don’t want their health endangered or simply can’t risk exposure for fear of serious health consequences. Research indicates that electromagnetic waves and radio frequencies trigger stress responses in cells. These stress responses may create minor biological disturbances such as headache, insomnia, nausea or tinnitus, or lead to serious health consequences such as increased blood sugar, nervous system dysfunction, DNA damage, cell damage, cancerous tumors, chronic fatigue, respiratory arrest, seizure, heart attack, stroke, etc.

Children are particularly vulnerable to electromagnetic radiation and should not be exposed to cell phones and wireless internet. Have library administrators forgotten that library services to children are a significant part of public library service? And what about public library staff being exposed continuously? Don’t they have the right to be protected from harmful radiation and shouldn’t the City of Santa Fe have a policy protecting public employees from excessive EMR exposure?

People who are electromagnetically sensitive are disabled in a way that can hardly be conceived of by most people. The public library is one of the few places that are still accessible for these people as workplaces, businesses, government buildings, café’s, schools, cities, counties and states are all gearing up to go wireless. In Sweden, electromagnetic sensitivity, better known as electro-hypersensitivity, is recognized as a full-on disability and though it is not recognized as such in the U.S. yet, there are state, federal and local laws designed to protect disabled citizens and they have rights as anyone else in this society. The public library is a “public” resource, paid for by the public and everyone has the right to access the library and its resources without health endangerment.

In libraries that are undergoing this wireless transition, they are finding that it is requiring an extraordinary amount of time, energy and money to deal with technical problems, answer patron questions about using the technology, create circulation services for laptops and purchase laptops. All of these activities redirect what little resources libraries have towards services that are largely unnecessary and which slowly undermine the traditional role of libraries, effectively turning them into “internet cafes.”

Do we really “need” wireless internet? Don’t we already have computer and internet access in libraries and isn’t the intent to provide more access to users simply self-defeating? Providing wireless doesn’t resolve the demand for computer and internet service in libraries. It only propels it further along. This is the experience of libraries that have gone wireless.

And what about those who don’t have laptops? Is the library going to expend a fortune on laptops (when it could have gone to book purchases and other library services) so that the “disadvantaged” have equal access? Or are we going to relegate “those” people to the public terminals where they must wait in line while their wealthier brethren can saunter in, demurely pull out their laptop and connect without a fuss? Isn’t this simply catering to those who already have? The effort to provide computers in libraries was originally meant to diminish the digital divide and create equity between the “haves” and “have nots.” Librarians need to remember their original intentions in this regard, and they need to remember the role and function of a public library… information, equity and access.

Wireless internet does not mesh with or enhance the mission of the public library. It only creates serious health hazards, erodes the quality of library service, and threatens the foundation upon which public libraries have stood for over 100 years in this country. Fifty years of research and thousands of articles from medical journals and other reputable scientific sources from around the world on the health hazards of electromagnetic pollution should be enough, alone, to dissuade library administration that this is an issue not to be ignored. The public library should be the bastion of education, public knowledge and information that IS its mission. Mindless obsequience and capitulation to wireless technology (or for that matter any technology that is passively and uncritically accepted) is NOT within the purview of the public library mission. Efforts to improve library services are sought after and appreciated but it needs to be understood that wireless internet is not a step forward.

The time to stop this invasion is now. Please contact the Santa Fe Public Library Board (the Santa Fe Library Board sets policy for the library) President, Michele Huff at 982-6484 or email her at: You can also contact the new mayor and city councilors. Let them know that you’re opposed to a wireless invasion of the Santa Fe Public Library system and to keep our libraries intact, safe and accessible for all. For more information on the hazards of EMR proliferation, visit Wireless Action Network - NM. See: .

Rebekah Azen, MLIS
(Master of Library and Information Science)

~ Rebekah Azen lives in Santa Fe. ~

Informant: James River Martin


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