(TNS) — San Rafael residents have launched a campaign to block cellphone companies from attempting to build 5G towers in Marin.

The 5G towers, which would allow for faster and higher-capacity video streaming and other transmissions, could exacerbate health symptoms already suspected as a result of exposure to electromagnetic fields, Vicki Sievers, of the EMF Safety Network, told the San Rafael City Council on Monday.

According to the EMF Safety Network website, those symptoms can include fatigue, headaches, sleep problems, anxiety, heart problems, learning and memory disorders, ringing in the ears and increased cancer risk.

“We’ve experienced 2G, 3G, 4G and now, on the horizon, is a fifth generation called millimeter wave technology,” Sievers said after her presentation that brought standing applause from about 20 people at the packed meeting. “Around the world, doctors and scientists are gravely alarmed about the biological and physiological effects of that technology.”

Sievers said no permits for 5G so-called “small cell” towers have been issued in Marin as of yet — though they have in other Bay Area cities — and she suspects they are being planned in San Rafael and Marin.

“[We want] amendments to the current telecommunications ordinance — which has not been reviewed since 2004 — that protect residential areas, schools and parks through setbacks and attention to power profiles,” Sievers said in an email Tuesday.

According to Sievers, San Anselmo, Fairfax and Mill Valley are working on strengthening their cell tower ordinances.

“Our effort has to do with making pre-emptive strikes before Verizon, AT&T [and others] actually make formal applications to each town and city,” Sievers said. “There are no applications in San Rafael to date, but there surely have been permits granted and installations begun in other Bay Area cities.”

In May, Verizon was forced to withdraw its application to build two “small cell” towers in Sebastopol after four months of heavy opposition by residents and attorneys for the EMF Safety Network.

“Several of us San Rafael residents went to the (San Rafael) council on Feb. 20 (when the Sebastopol issue arose), urging them to prevent such debacles here,” Sievers said.

San Rafael Mayor Gary Phillips said Tuesday he was not aware of any ongoing activity to strengthen or upgrade cell tower regulations in the city and there were no immediate plans for further discussion.

“It kind of came a little bit out of the blue,” he said of Monday’s presentation.

EMFs include wireless radiation emitted by cell towers, cell and cordless phones, smart meters, smart grid, Wi-Fi and computers, power lines, fluorescent lights, indoor wiring and other electronic devices, according to the EMF Safety Network.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the jury is still out on the health risks of exposure to EMFs.

“Studies have shown that some workers exposed to high magnetic fields have increased cancer rates,” the CDC reported on its website. “But such associations do not necessarily show that EMF exposures cause cancer (any more than the springtime association of robins and daffodils shows that one causes the other). Scientists have looked carefully at all the EMF evidence, but they disagree about the health effects of EMFs except to say that better information is needed.”

According to the website whatis5g.info, the 5G “small cell” tower “will include the higher millimeter wave frequencies never before used for internet and communications technology. These waves do not travel easily through buildings so 5G will require millions of new cell towers. The wireless telecom industry is aggressively seeking to outfit nearly every lamppost and utility pole around the country with a wireless ‘small cell’ antenna beaming hazardous radiation next to, or into our homes, 24/7.”

San Rafael resident Chandu Vyas said Monday he is wary of EMFs after a health challenge about five years ago. He said he developed severe and constant headaches after a smart meter was installed at his home. The headaches went away after he “opted out” and had the smart meter at his property removed.

“I don’t want to go through the same health problem again,” he told the City Council. “I ask your help.”

Kiah Bosy of Chi Home Design showed the council how her EMF meters ratcheted up to high pitch when she walked toward a TV screen in front of the council chambers.

“It’s serious,” she said. “We’re microwaving each other.”

©2018 The Marin Independent Journal (Novato, Calif.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.