Sticking out of Jordan Ridge Elementary, where more than a thousand boys and girls learn and play, is what appears to be an American flag draped from an unusually wide flag pole. The pole holding it high, however, isn’t a pole at all — it’s a cover for one of the two cell phone towers on the school’s grounds, and some parents think it’s a serious health hazard.
It’s especially worrying for some parents because of a story that recently came out of California. San Joaquin County Elementary School removed its cell phone towers after eight kids were diagnosed with cancer in just a few years.
These parents are concerned something like that could happen here – but the science is still unsure just how big of a threat these towers really are.
The cell towers at Jordan Ridge Elementary School
Jordan Ridge Elementary School isn’t the only school in Utah with cell phone towers. In a statement, the Jordan School District confirmed it has had cell phone towers at schools for about 20 years, and currently has towers in place at 35 different schools. It’s a way for the school district to get a little extra cash to fund day-to-day operations; the district receives up to $18,000 a year for each tower.
But one concerned parent, Rebecca Blatnick, told KSL Newsradio’s Dave & Dujanovic that they still aren’t worth it, saying: “I don’t think it’s worth the cancer risks to get that money.”
She and other parents are active on a Facebook group aimed at protesting the presence of cell towers at their children’s school.
Blatnick says she’s upset that there are rules limiting the number of cell phone towers that can be placed on school grounds, and believes that the school appears to have been trying to cover one of them up by disguising it as a flag pole. She shared this photo of the towers with KSL:
Is that a cell phone tower inside that flag pole? A Utah mom says she wants to know why 2 towers at the neighborhood school. Next on @kslnewsradio @D2KSL @andrewhull03 pic.twitter.com/qPiEZjonTb
— Debbie Dujanovic (@debbieksl) April 16, 2019
“I think it’s sneaky to have a cell tower that looks like a flag pole,” Blatnick says. “If they’re so safe, then why do you have to disguise it?”
Blatnick has voiced her complaints to several people at Jordan Ridge Elementary and at the school board but claims she hasn’t received much of a response. She says when she first called, the only answer she received was: “She would look into my concern and talk to her superior. I haven’t heard anything back about it.”
Since then, the board has responded by sending her pamphlets and website links stating that cell phone towers do not pose a cancer risk. Blatnick, however, doesn’t believe that’s true.
“That’s wrong,” the mother insists, citing a study by the Ramazzini Institute that found that lab animals exposed to cell tower radiation developed cancer. “There are studies. We just need to look at them.”
The American Cancer Society, it should be noted, says there is “very little evidence” that cell phone towers cause cancer. Only a limited number of studies have, however, been conducted on the subject.
It should also be noted that a member of the Jordan School Board, Darrell Robinson, disputes Blatnick’s account that no one has responded to her, writing on Facebook that he answered her e-mail as soon as he received it. He also disputes the idea that the tower is disguised to keep parents from knowing what it is.
“For the record, I was on the Jordan Ridge School Community Council when the first cell tower went in. We talked about this over several meetings, and approved the tower. We were concerned with the looks of the tower and asked if there is something that could hide the tower,” Robinson wrote.
Either way, Blatnick and other parents like her just don’t think it’s worth the risk. She is calling on other parents to campaign for a law to keep cell phone towers out of public schools.
More to the story
When Dave & Dujanovic talked about this on the air, Debbie Dujanovic was adamant that we need to help Blatnick get towers like these out of our schools — but her co-host, Dave Noriega, wasn’t so convinced.
“There’s no reasonable science that says they cause cancer,” Noriega says. “None.”
Hear the heated debate that followed – along with their conversation with Blatnick – on the Dave & Dujanovic podcast:
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