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Thread: Cell Tower

  1. #1
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    Default Cell Tower

    I have an employee that is fueling a cell tower generator and has begun to say he is experiencing headaches and short term memory loss. The employee feels this is caused by the radio frequency from the cell tower, because the transmitter devise is within 3-4 feet of the generator. I was unable to find information on the dangers, and how to protect the employee without shutting down the cell tower. Has anyone else had experience with cell towers, and how do you service them?

  2. #2
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    Most of the EMF from a cell tower site is from the radiating elements that are mounted high on the tower.

    The transmitter is essentially a big power amplifier, which essentially takes the electrical signal from the phone network and amplifies it several thousand times over. That is sent through a transmission line up to the antenna located on top of the tower, the antenna transforms the electricity in to waves, and presto. It's a phone signal.

    There is some EMF radiation generated by the transmitters due to the large amount of electricity they consume, between the output power and the cooling fans in the transmitter cabinet. What that level actually is would be determined by site survey.

    What concerns me more than the EMF radiation levels are the sound levels that your employee is being exposed to. Transmitter rooms are not fun places to be. The equipment generates a lot of heat, which means each device has to have a blower fan assembly. The larger the device, the bigger the fan. The cooling systems on transmitters are very loud. On top of all of that gear, all transmitter rooms have oversized HVAC systems to keep the room below 70 degrees. That adds even more noise. If your employee is 4 feet from the transmitter, then chances are he is in a place where OSHA requires hearing protection to be worn at all times.

    I'd consult OSHA, your company safety officer, or other local resources about the sound levels.

    As far as the EMF exposure, I'd suggest contacting the engineering department of the tower company with your concerns. In order to maintain their FCC license, the tower site must perform a certain amount of measurements in their site survey on a regular basis to ensure that they are operating within state and federal parameters. The engineers can provide you with more details about their specific tower site, and will likely have more resources for you to understand more about EMF.

    Here are some links as a backgrounder:

    http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/radiofreque...theffects.html

    http://www.fcc.gov/oet/rfsafety/
    Last edited by lady_kaur; 05-21-2008 at 04:31 AM.

  3. #3
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    Thank you for the information. These cell towers are mounted to a parking garage so the techs can get pretty close. The generators are outside and away from the cell equipment, but are close to the transmitters. That was why I was concerned about the transmitters, since the techs are fueling the generators so close to the transmitters. According to the articles you attached it would seem as long as they are behind the transmitters then they are ok.

  4. #4
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    Make sure that all of the RF shields are present and in working order. A missing shield can irradiate an unsuspecting person.

    As the operator of a transmitter, you should have an FCC manual on maximum exposure, and a field-strength meter to insure you are obeying the law. Make sure that nobody working in the area of the transmitter or using the parking garage is exposed to dangerous radiation.

    The headaches could be caused by noise, exhaust fumes, or something unrelated to the work being done. How loud is the generator? If it exceeds 85 dBC SPL, it can cause hearing loss. Does the vehicle used have an exhaust leak? Is something the employee is allergic to in the area?

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