The Washington DC National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC) released draft antenna guidelines and is moving forward towards creating an easier path for  5G small cells into Washington DC. Despite repeated testimony and opposition to the 5G rollout the City is not considering the issue of radiofrequency (RF) radiation  as long a the radiation is within FCC limits. Hover substantial research shows adverse effects at RF radiation levels far far below FCC limits. Read the research HERE. 

Click here for the newly proposed Washington DC  National Capital Planning Commission Draft Antenna Submission Guidelines

Environmental Health Trust submitted comments to the District of Columbia Public Space Committee regarding their Draft 5G Small Cell Guidelines. EHT also testified at several Washington DC Meetings on the Issue.

According to the Agenda of the NCPC for the upcoming July 9 2020 meeting, there will be an Antenna Submission Guidelines Update NCPC File Number: 6947 and staff is requesting Staff is requesting authority to release the updated antenna guidelines for a 60-day public comment period.

  • The draft  guidelines only say of health”Sponsoring agencies must provide a certification that proposed antennas are in compliance with radio frequency (RF) radiation emission guidelines established by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). If other emission sources are nearby, the cumulative effect of the additional proposed antenna must also follow the FCC guidelines.” However it is not specified where the points of RF monitoring be ? For example, RF measurements should take place in the building on the top floor, they should be just outside the antenna as birds, bees and trees  will be directly close to the antennas.
  • The draft guidelines say “Describe natural resources on or near the project area, and the project’s anticipated effect on these natural resources such as endangered and threatened species, and migratory birds, etc” yet birds will clearly come to rest on these antennas and there is no RF limit set for ensuring birds are not harmed.

Sign up to give testimony at the meeting. 

The Washington DC Advisory 3/4G Committee  passed a resolution  “Opposing Small Cell Wireless and 5G Technology Without Studies Confirming Safety”Washington DC 2E Advisory Council  passed a resolution asking to minimize 5G small cells and require  radiofrequency radiationmeasurements stating that  “ANC 2E’s entire community will be subjected to involuntary radio frequency exposure and this exposure may have negative effects for people with radio frequency emission disabilities or sensitivities. ” The Washington DC 3B Advisory Council  asked that the City “analyze in greater depth and report to the public on the potential impacts of the installation of small cell technology on the city’s streetscape, quality of life, and the health and well-being of the public.” The Kalorama Citizens Association testified that that small cell infrasture be prohibited from placement on public parks and schools and that street trees “not be butchered.”

The Sierra Club of California has passed a resolution opposing 5G and the Washington DC Sierra Club testified in opposition to the 5G small cell rollout because of impacts to trees.

Background for Washington DC 5G “Small Cells” 

The City has been deliberating on aesthetics related to 5G small cells. However residents have repeatedly raised the issue if human health and tree heath. They have testified at Commission meetings and Councilwoman Cheh held a roundtable where citizen after citizen gave testimony in opposition to 5G.


Washington DC Sierra Club Testimony on Protecting DC’s Tree Canopy From 5g Small Cells in Washington DC

In November 19, 2018 Mark Rodeffer, Sierra Club DC Chapter Chair testified to Washington Dc about DDOT’s Draft Small Cell Design Guidelines which state that “trees shall not be removed or have their critical root zones damaged for the installation of Small Cell infrastructure.” It’s a good thing that DDOT has thought about the effect that small cell technology will have on the trees of DC. However, deeper consideration of the issue is needed. Specifically, the District of Columbia must ensure that street trees are not aggressively pruned as DC moves toward small cell infrastructure. This technology requires a direct line of sight between small cells. That could require chopping off large portions of tree branches – which could kill some of the District’s largest and most majestic trees. These are trees that have been enjoyed by District residents and visitors for decades.”

Environmental Health Trust notes that when trees are in “line of sight” from a cell antenna they are receiving higher levels of wireless radiation. In addition to damage to trees from the digging of the ground and the trimming of trees, cell tower radiation and electromagnetic (EMF) frequencies have been found to alter the growth and development of plants.  Studies on wireless EMF frequencies have found physiological and morphological changes, increased micronuclei formation, altered growth as well as adverse cell characteristics such as thinner cell walls and smaller mitochondria. Electromagnetic  exposure results in biochemical changes Research shows that plants perceive and respond to electromagnetic fields and are a good model to study the biological effects of exposure. Documentation of tree damage from base stations is made visible in the Report “Tree Damage Caused by Mobile phone base stations” in which he states, “RF radiation effects on plants have not been considered. In the Explosive Proliferation of the diverse wireless communication technologies across the entire environment and almost all areas of life, this represents an uncovered risk” (Breunig, 2017).  EMFs also have been shown to alter the behavior of bees and birds.

Research to know includes  “Tree Damage Caused By Mobile Phone Base Stations An Observation Guide.” (2017) and Waldmann-Selsam, C., et al. “Radiofrequency radiation injures trees around mobile phone base stations.” Science of the Total Environment  (2016)  which states “In the last two decades, the deployment of phone masts around the world has taken place and, for many years, there has been a discussion in the scientific community about the possible environmental impact from mobile phone base stations. Trees have several advantages over animals as experimental subjects and the aim of this study was to verify whether there is a connection between unusual (generally unilateral) tree damage and radiofrequency exposure.


Councilmember Cheh, thank you for holding this roundtable today on preparations for 5th Generation – or 5G – small cell technology in the District of Columbia. I am here to testify about what small cell infrastructure might mean for DC’s tree canopy.

Share Source: Environmental Health Trust