Albany residents debate safety of 5G

May 16, 2019 07:36 PM

ALBANY - If you travel through the Buckingham Lake neighborhood in Albany, you may have noticed some new cell towers.

As the Times Union first reported Wednesday, the towers have ignited a debate over whether or not they could pose health risks.

Verizon said the new towers will help with spotty coverage in the area for now, but will eventually service the new 5G network.

SUNY Albany Professor David Carpenter said by 2020 we can expect to see small cell towers every five to six blocks in cities across United States.

Carpenter said there's strong evidence that radiation from 3G and 4G technologies increases the risk for cancer or disease. He said 5G technology hasn't been studied yet.

"In my judgment, it's foolish just to roll out a whole new technology that may cause harm without first doing the research to determine whether or not it does cause harm," Carpenter said.

A spokesperson from Verizon sent NewsChannel 13 this statement:

"All equipment used for our 4G and 5G networks must comply with federal safety standards. Those standards have wide safety margins and are designed to protect everyone, including children.  Everyday exposure to the radio frequency energy from 4G/5G small cells will be well within those safety limits, and is comparable to exposure from products such as baby monitors, Wi-Fi routers, and Bluetooth devices."

StopAlbany5G is a group of city residents that have been vocal about the issue. They started a petition asking the city to halt installation of 5G towers until further research can be done.

Cities like Belgium have stopped implementing the new equipment amid pushback from consumers and scientists. However, in the U.S. federal law limits cities from opposing towers solely based on health concerns.

"You could oppose it because it was ugly because it reduced your property value, but you are specifically not allowed to oppose it because you are concerned that the radiation might cause disease," Carpenter said.

Michele Susko has lived in the Buckingham Lake neighborhood for over a decade. She and her neighbors would have liked more transparency from the city, Common Council and Verizon.

"I wish that the city of Albany had included the residents in the conversation similarly to the way they're doing it in Syracuse where their having public meetings people are talking about this," Susko said.

Not everyone in Pine Hills is against the new towers. Alexandria Sifontes said she's experienced spotty reception in her neighborhood and the new towers will likely help her business, ACA Construction Specalties LLC.

"I do own my own construction company and it's vital that I have fast replies to everybody, so the Internet is very vital to my business so I'm all for the new towers," Sifontes said.

NewsChannel 13 reached out to the city for comment. We did not hear back.


Emily Burkhard

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