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Unwarranted fear

EDITOR: The Monday article titled “Proposed Verizon Wireless tower opposed by neighbors in Santa Rosa” was over the top. Rather than representing the voices of customers who surely would benefit from the upgrade, the article promoted pseudoscience from a small minority, who, aesthetic qualms aside, is misinformed about the risks of such upgrades.

The jury is not “out” on this topic. The National Cancer Institute states “the only consistently recognized biological effect of radiofrequency energy is heating.” Research on children diagnosed with brain tumors fails to find correlation between cell phone use and the cancers. Handheld use is theoretically far more dangerous.

Here’s why: Mobile phone towers, even in one’s back yard, are too far away from people to be hazardous. RF radiation is inversely proportional to the square of the distance. Otherwise put, double the distance from a transmitting device and the power is reduced by four times.

From the perspective of physics, the mobile device in your own pocket, next to your ear or next to your bed imparts stronger concentrations of RF radiation than a cell phone tower ever could. Should cordless phones and wireless routers be banned? I agree cell phone towers aren’t pretty. I respect people who don’t want towers in their immediate environs. But, spreading fear to promote an argument is a disservice to the argument, a disservice to science and a disservice to the public.

ANDREW LEONARD

Santa Rosa

Hospital site history

EDITOR: Press Democrat articles published over the past several months featuring the old Sonoma County hospital make little reference to the history of the hospital and its neighbor, the former Oak Knoll Sanitarium. Both were constructed in the 1930s and are listed on the Living New Deal website.

A 2015 cultural resources survey found many of the Sonoma County medical complex structures appear to be eligible for the California Register of Historical Resources and recommends that they be formally evaluated should future development impact them.

Information about this property’s architectural and cultural history is available at the Sonoma County Archives and the Sonoma County History and Genealogy Library. Resources include original documents pertaining to issuance of Public Works Administration funds used for both the hospital and sanitarium and correspondence between the county and the architect and building contractor. Paulene Goddard’s master’s thesis, “The Impact of the Works Projects Administration in Sonoma County,” can be found at the library as well as historic photographs and information related to the old Sonoma County poor farm and cemetery.

Library staff are happy to assist anyone wishing to access these materials.

KATHERINE J. RINEHART

Manager, Sonoma County History & Genealogy Library

A lifesaver

EDITOR: Kudos to Paul Payne for his article in Sunday’s edition, “Swim lessons save lives.” The regional parks program Vamos a Nadar highlights the important aspects of water safety in addition to basic survival swimming. Plus, parents who participate gain information that helps them keep their families safe in the water.

The Regional Parks Foundation is grateful to both the Finley Foundation for its grant to the program and to the many individual donors who have supported Vamos a Nadar over the years. We are also grateful to the cities that make their facilities available.

I and many of my swim friends have contributed, since donations to the parks foundation can be specifically designated to this life-saving program that we value so highly.

CAROL EBER

Chairwoman, Sonoma County Regional Parks Foundation Petaluma

Much-needed housing

EDITOR: The county’s Chanate Road property is a much-needed site for housing for our community, including low-income seniors and veterans. Sell this property now, and let’s do what the voters wanted. In-fill lands need to be built out. Enough of the complainers who only want to postpone any progress. Let’s do something to help the less fortunate (especially veterans) now.

JAN and JOANNE SWANEY

Santa Rosa

An open discussion

EDITOR: D. Don Johnson’s comment that unlimited high-quality health care for all is impossible is valid (“Health costs,” Letters, July 3). Countries with single-payer systems try to contain cost through careful review of treatment options and control of prescription drugs costs.

People in these countries are accustomed to waiting periods and treatment options offered. Americans aren’t so patient. Aggressive advertising of the latest technologies and prescription drugs encourages demand for higher-cost medical care. The United States and New Zealand are the only countries where direct-to-consumer advertising of prescription drugs is legal, and that undeniably adds to the cost of medical care.

Governments have a responsibility to ensure that the most vulnerable populations, including the elderly, have access to health care. We need an open discussion at each level of society to find cost-effective and creative solutions to make health care accessible to everyone irrespective of the cost. That entails engaging all potential partners — individuals, government health and social sectors, professional health care organizations, health insurance agencies, the pharmaceutical industry and non-government organizations.

There is no unique model that fits everyone. Health care policies cannot be crafted in closed partisan sessions.

DR. SUMEDHA KHANNA

Santa Rosa