By Joanna Guzman| February 25, 2021 at 10:12 PM MST – Updated February 25 at 10:12 PM
TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) – A controversial battle surrounding 5G cell towers popping up in and across Tucson neighborhoods is causing concerns among residents and city leaders.
Telecom companies like Verizon and AT&T have been installing 5G cell towers in residential areas. Some end up close to homes. A big concern for resident Carol Knowles.
“I had no notice. I didn’t know what they were doing, no one told me anything… so I went out and spoke to the man in the truck and he said ‘Oh, we’re going to install a 5G cell pole,’ and I didn’t even know what that was,” Knowles said.
Knowles is concerned that the proximity of the cell towers to her living space will cause health issues in the long run.
“Various people say there are microwave emissions that might cause physical problems. But it also, I think, lowers the value of my house,” she added.
According to the FDA, there is no consistent or credible evidence of health problems caused by the exposure to radio frequency energy emitted by cell phones or towers.
On behalf of residents, we reached out to Verizon, one of the main providers installing the cell poles.
In a statement the company said, ‘‘all equipment used for 5G must comply with federal safety standards. Those standards have wide safety margins and are designed to protect everyone, including children.”
Meanwhile Ward 6 City Council Steve Kozachik said, just like residents, the city has no say as to where these towers are installed.
“State law gives Verizon the right to simply walk in point to a place in the ground and say, ‘I want my pole there.’ So if the city says, ‘Yeah, we’ll issue a permit,’ it’s because we can’t say no according to state law.”
An Arizona law, requires the City of Tucson to approve small cell pole installations anywhere.
Kozachik said the city is trying to work with residents, TEP and telecom providers to develop a better plan to install the towers.
In a letter to state representatives, Tucson Mayor Regina Romero is requesting the restoration of authority to local governments in the decision making and process approval for these towers.