Federal Law Allows More Antennas on Rooftops With No Community Participation – Environmental Health Trust


When a cell tower is built, it can go higher per federal law, and the community has virtually no say. A tower can go up to 20 feet higher with no public process due to the passing of Section 6409(a) of the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012. In other words, a 100 foot tower can be increased to 120 feet after it is constructed.

This is because of Section 6409 of the Federal Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act. Similarly, if wireless facilities are built, the area, such a rooftop becomes a wireless site, like a cell tower, and companies can add on more antennas and the community has, again, virtually no say. Companies can swap 3G with 5G antennas and related ancillary equipment so long as there is no change to the height of the structure or the total overall height.

Section 6409 of the Federal Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act (“Section 6409”) was adopted in 2012.

“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.” (Emphasis added.) The federal law defines an “eligible facilities request” as “(A) collocation of new transmission equipment; (B) removal of transmission equipment; or (C) replacement of transmission equipment.”

Also, the Federal Communications Commission issued a Wireless Infrastructure Report and Order on October 17, 2014 (“FCC Order”) which established regulations that clarify and streamline the municipal approval process for eligible facilities requests under Section 6409.

The FCC Order clarifies that municipal review of an eligible facilities request is limited to determining whether the request falls within Section 6409:

“a State or local government may require the applicant to provide documentation or information only to the extent reasonably related to determining whether the request meets the requirements of this section [Section 6409]. A State or local government may not require an applicant to submit any other documentation, including but not limited to documentation intended to illustrate the need for such wireless facilities or to justify the business decision to modify such wireless facilities.”47 C.F.R. 1.40001(c)(1)

Cell towers and wireless antennas are not safe. 

  • European Parliament requested a research report “Health Impact of 5G” which was released in July 2021 and concluded that commonly used RFR frequencies (450 to 6000 MHz) are probably carcinogenic for humans and clearly affect male fertility with possible adverse effects on the development of embryos, fetuses and newborns. 
  • A study published in Electromagnetic Biology and Medicine found changes in blood considered biomarkers predictive of cancer in people living closer to cell antenna arrays (Zothansiama 2017). 
  • A study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health found higher exposure to cell network arrays linked to higher mortality from all cancer and specifically lung and breast cancer (Rodrigues 2021).
  • A 10-year study published in Science of the Total Environment on cell phone network antennas by the local Municipal Health Department and several universities in Brazil found a clearly elevated relative risk of cancer mortality at residential distances of 500 meters or less from cell phone towers (Dode 2011).  

  • A study commissioned by the Government of Styria, Austria found a significant cancer incidence in the area around the RF transmitter as well as significant exposure-effect relationships between radiofrequency radiation exposure and the incidence of breast cancers and brain tumors (Oberfeld 2008).
  • A review published in Experimental Oncology found “alarming epidemiological and experimental data on possible carcinogenic effects of long term exposure to low intensity microwave (MW) radiation.” A year of operation of a powerful base transmitting station for mobile communication reportedly resulted in a dramatic increase of cancer incidence among the population living nearby (Yakymenko 2011).  

American Academy of Pediatrics 

“In recent years, concern has increased about exposure to radio frequency (RF) electromagnetic radiation emitted from cell phones and phone station antennas. An Egyptian study confirmed concerns that living nearby mobile phone base stations increased the risk for developing: 

  • Headaches
  • Memory problems
  • Dizziness
  • Depression
  • Sleep problems

Short-term exposure to these fields in experimental studies have not always shown negative effects, but this does not rule out cumulative damage from these fields, so larger studies over longer periods are needed to help understand who is at risk. In large studies, an association has been observed between symptoms and exposure to these fields in the everyday environment.” 

American Academy of Pediatrics