Radiofrequency radiation injures trees around mobile phone base stations
Waldmann-Selsam, Cornelia; Balmori-de la Puente, Alfonso; Breunig, Helmut; Balmori, Alfonso (2016). Radiofrequency radiation injures trees around mobile phone base stations. Science of The Total Environment, 572(), 554–569.doi:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2016.08.045
Aim: Over the past twenty years, phone masts (or towers) have been erected globally. There's been ongoing debate about their environmental impact. This study aimed to investigate if there's a link between the damage seen in trees (often on one side only) and the radiation from these masts.
What Was Done: Between 2006 and 2015, researchers in Bamberg and Hallstadt (Germany) closely observed and took photos of trees showing unusual or unexplained damage. They also measured the electromagnetic radiation around these trees. In 2015, they took 144 measurements of this radiation in various locations in these cities, allowing them to create a map showing where radiation was strongest. They then looked at 60 damaged trees and compared them with 60 other trees: 30 chosen at random and 30 from areas with low radiation.
Findings: The damage on the trees was typically greater on the side facing a phone mast. In fact, the measurements showed significant differences in radiation exposure between the damaged side and the undamaged side of these trees. Moreover, these differences were also evident when comparing the damaged trees' exposed sides with other tree groups. Trees in areas with low radiation (those not visually close to any phone mast and where radiation measurements were below a certain level) didn’t show any damage. The results indicate that the radiation from phone masts is harmful to trees. The damage usually starts on the side of the tree facing the mast and over time, affects the entire tree.
Conclusion: Trees near phone masts are showing high levels of damage. While initial studies did hint at the harmful effects of radiofrequency radiation, these signs weren't heeded, and the construction of phone masts continued without much consideration for the environment. This study found that the damaged side of the trees always had a clear line of sight to one or more phone masts. Statistical analyses showed a link between the radiation from these masts and damage to trees. The damage typically begins on one side and over time, harms the entire tree. This one-sided damage strongly suggests that it's not just about the heat from the radiation (non-thermal effects), but other factors related to the radiation that's harming the trees. The continued construction of phone masts poses a worldwide threat to trees, and further research in real-world conditions is vital.