Questions To Ask About The Small Cell Tower Near Your Home – Environmental Health Trust


Questions To Ask About The Small Cell Tower Near Your Home


EHT is often contacted by people who wake up one morning to a 5G “small” cell tower in front of their home or child’s school. Sometimes it is an antenna mounted on or in front of the building they live in. Families want to know what to do and how to get the wireless antennas removed because they are concerned the antennas are too close. 

We have put together a starter pack on key questions to help you begin the process of understanding what happened and what you can do. We always recommend you contact a lawyer with expertise in this area as this is not legal advice.  A lawyer is the best way to address the situation. 

Note: We are using the term wireless facility to refer to the wireless antennas and associated equipment. 

Basic Information Questions 

  1. What type of wireless facility is this?  For example, is it a macro tall tower, small cell on a light pole, a new pole, a strandmount or rooftop mounted antennas? 
  2. What is the make and model of the antennas that will be on the facility? What type of frequencies and modulations will the antennas emit? 
  3. What entities and companies are involved in the wireless facility? Note, this should include 1. the site owner/landowner for the area (ground, building) that the pole or wireless facility is built on, 2. The companies and/or entities that own or rent the pole and 3. The carrier that is using the antenna(s) for their network(s).
  4. Where can I get a copy of the application by which this wireless facility was or will be permitted?
  5. What is the zoning, local ordinance or local regulations that apply to the facility? 
  6. Where can I access the  Radiofrequency (RF) compliance report showing the facility will be in compliance with FCC human exposure limits.  
  7. What is the process by which this wireless facility was permitted and approved for this location? 
  8. Can more antennas be allowed on this facility? If so, what is the process for approval? 


To reiterate. You should ensure you have a copy of:

  1. The application for the wireless facility
  2. The RF compliance report
  3. Technical specs with make and model for all the antennas and power source details. 

Here are more questions you may want answers to:

Questions About the Process

The regulations that apply to how wireless facilities are approved in your community are based on local, state and federal regulations. In addition, there are numerous entities involved in the process. It is important that you identify the process in which a wireless facility is approved from start to finish. When you understand the process, you can identify your next steps. 

  • Is there a local ordinance or zoning regarding small cells and wireless facilities? 
  • Does my state have small cell streamlining legislation regarding small cells? 
  • What are the steps by which wireless antenna facilities are approved in your City, Town, County,  locality etc? Is there a process specifically for school district placement  Ideally there is a flow chart. 
  • Were there any public hearings regarding the wireless facility near my home/school? What was the outcome? 

Questions About Notice

  • What was the notification process?
  • Were the residents notified who were most affected by the placement, like those with the antenna in front of their window?
  • Was the building owner or condo informed? If so, was the information disseminated to residents in the building? How was this information shared? 
  • How are renters notified? 

Questions About Transparency

  1. Was a master plan developed regarding the way new networks would be deployed in the community?
  2. Did the companies present a master plan for the networks they are deploying and already have? 
  3. Is there a local government website that has publicly posted information for the community regarding:
    • Locations of all current wireless facilities 
    • Locations of proposed wireless facilities
    • Links to the applications
    • Links to the radiofrequency radiation compliance reports
  1. Is the local government measuring RF before and after the facility is installed? Are there yearly RF measurements to ensure compliance? 
  2. How do I file a complaint? 

Questions About Property Value

  • What is the potential property value impact to the condos and homes in close proximity to the antennas? 
  • Was there ever an assessment of the impact to property values in the community from this facility? What about the impact from all of the proposed wireless facilities together? 

Questions About the Equipment

  • What is the power source and backup power source for the facility? 
  • Who is paying for the electricity? 
  • How is the issue of  fire risk being mitigated?

Questions About Environmental Impacts

  1. Is the facility in compliance with NEPA- the National Environmental Protection Act? If so, where is the documentation indicating compliance?  
  2. Did the state environmental authorities review the new networks or facility to identify environmental impacts and impacts to endangered species? 
  3. Regarding RF emissions, is there an area around the antenna  that exceeds FCC limits? If so, how far does it extend from the cell antennas and what is the amount of the area that exceeds FCC limits? This area is habitat for birds, bats and insects. Has the impact of such high RF areas on wildlife been evaluated? 

Additional Questions for Decision Makers 

  • What are the current RF environmental levels in the City/Town and State? Are any localities, stares or US federal agencies monitoring RF levels?
  • Who is in charge of ensuring cell towers and “small” cells are compliant with the 1996 FCC RF limits? Is it the cell tower company that measures the RF to show compliance or is there a state or federal agency that checks?
  • If a community has fiber optic or other wired internet service to the home, then why is densified 4G or 5G needed outside ? (Inside the home people have technology such as a router and modem that connects them to the internet.)
  • Instead of more cell towers, why not ensure more hardwired fast secure connections to each home and business?
  • If children are harmed from cell tower radiation, who is liable? Is it the municipality or the cell tower company or exactly what entity would a family sue for damages?
  • If people/children are injured then who will bear the health care costs?

 Questions To Ask the RF “Expert” Who  Says Safety is Assured 

  • Where is a report and/or systematic research review showing safety from long term exposure to cell tower radiation by any federal agency? (OSHA, CDC, EPA, NCI, FDA) If so please share the actual report. 
  • Where is a report showing an evaluation of the science on impacts to the brain by any federal agency? (i.e. nervous system impacts, brain development, impacts to memory, hyperactivity). What about miscarriage and impacts to reproductive organs?
  • Where is a recent report showing safety to children and pregnant women by any federal agency?
  • If the FCC’s 1996 limits have not been reviewed by health or science experts in this century then how can we rely on them? If the latest up to date published science has not been considered or evaluated, then how can we rely on FCC limits to protect health?
  • If the federal government has failed to ensure their regulations are based on up to date research and an up to date review/assessment of whether they are protective, then what rights does a state or locality have to protect their residents in light of the lack of an up to date review of these limits?
  • The World Health Organization EMF Project has a webpage online that says “no adverse health effects. However the WHO EMF Project has not reviewed the science since 1993. Is there a report or list of studies that were reviewed to support this website statement of no effect?
  • Why did the European Parliament Study “Health Effects of 5G”  conclude that RF 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?
  • FDA: Does the FDA have a report that investigated the daily nonstop RF exposure from cell towers? Where in the FDA literature review does the FDA investigate the issue of impacts to brain development? Has the FDA reviewed any research since 2018 ? and if so, where is the documentation? Did the FDA review impacts on children? If so, where can I read the opinion?
  • The American Cancer Society (ACS) states on their website that the ACS does “not have any official position or statement on whether or not radiofrequency radiation from cell phones, cell phones towers, or other sources is a cause of cancer.” Has the ACS ever reviewed the research to determine if a risk exists? Where is the report?
  • The American Cancer Society’s funded research with Yale scientists found an increased risk of thyroid cancer in people with a specific genetic makeup associated with cell phone use. What does the wireless industry think of this Yale study?
  • Will a family get decreased or increased total RF exposure in their environment when a short “small” cell tower is installed at 10, 20 or 30 feet away from their home, i.e in their front yard or in front of the windows to their apartment?
  • Do cell tower companies have insurance to cover liabilities from health damages from the non-ionizing radiation?
  • I am reading studies that show biological effects from this radiation. Is it the wireless company position that all of these studies are wrong?
  • Why do wireless companies warn shareholders about risks from the RF radiation emitted by their networks?
  • Why do wireless companies mobile protection policies themselves define non-ionizing radiation as a “pollutant”?