Center for Safer Wireless
Promoting Safety in Our Wireless World

Cell Phone Antennas on Top of this Office Building

Cell Phone Towers and Antennas

Cell phone towers are the base stations for cell phones and host  cell phone antennas, which act as transmitters and receivers.  Antennas receive signals from cell phones and are linked with wireless and wired networks which route calls from one location to another.  These networks are connected to local telephone companies, enabling wireless calls to be received and sent to conventional phones. 

The number of cell phone tower and antennas in the United States has skyrocketed in almost a decade from 95,733 in June 2000 to 220,500 cell sites in June 2009, according to CTIA - the Wireless Assocation. If you observe one cell tower, the combined power output of multiple antennas on a tower increases accordingly.  A typical suburban community can have 50 individual antennas and 12 cell phone towers in a 4-mile radius. You can identify the number of cell phone towers and antennas near your home and work by going to 

In addition to free standing towers, cell towers are disguised as trees, gas station signs, or church steeples.

Cell phone antennas are mounted on locations such as water tanks, office buildings, home rooftops, churches, apartment buildings, camping and hunting sites, boats, cars, utility poles, grain silos, and flagpoles.

Some cities are building city-wide Wi-Fi service to enable anyone on the street to remotely access the internet.  Wi-Fi signals travel a few hundred feet while WiMAX installations transmit stronger signals as much as 10 miles.  Therefore, people near WiMAX are exposed to a stronger continuous radiofrequency radiation emission. 

Those who live near cell phone towers are exposed to radiofrequency radiation 24 hours a day.  During that time there are higher and lower exposure levels.  According to Blake Levitt, a journalist who has researched the biological effects of nonionizing radiation since the late 1970's, cell phone antennas generate peak exposures that quickly disappear; however, these exposures can cause negative health effects.

Peer-reviewed scientific studies have identified adverse effects on populations living near cell phone towers.

General symptoms include headaches, fatigue, concentration problems, dizziness, insomnia, depression, appetite loss, skin rashes, and discomfort.

Section 704 of the Federal Telecommunications Act of 1996’s preempts consideration of the health and environmental effects of radio-frequency radiation at levels below current Federal Communication Commission standards in decisions involving the placement, construction and modification of wireless facilities.
Various local governments throughout the United States have passed resolutions to repeal sections of the 1996 Telecommunications Act that limit regulation of local authority on cell site placement based on health and environmental issues or update health studies. They include Los Angeles, CA, Sante Fe, N.M., San Francisco, CA, Tuscon, AZ, Santa Barbara, CA, Agoura Hills, CA, Sebastopol, CA, Glendale, CA, Portland, OR, and Albany, CA. Read the resolutions at
Here is a list of other groups and communities that are concerned about cell phone towers.

Section 6409 of the U.S. Middle Class Tax Relief Act enacted in February requires state and local approval of cell tower collocations and other wireless tower modifications. "IN GENERAL- Notwithstanding section 704 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 (Public Law 104-104) or any other provision of law, a State or local government may not deny, and shall approve, any eligible facilities request for a modification of an existing wireless tower or base station that does not substantially change the physical dimensions of such tower or base station." Read the entire section.


A woman living in Canada and her experience two months after
cell phone antennas were installed on top of her apartment
building in December 2009.