Member Concerned About Workplace Safety at SFPD

Local 21 members are concerned about health at SFPD. Four people in the office have developed cancer, and two have since died. Local 21 member Steve Senatori is concerned that EMF radiation could possibly have played a role, and has advocated for the department to consider preemptively limiting exposure to radiation as a precautionary measure.

Since the role of technology in our lives has taken a sudden and dramatic increase, questions about whether there are harmful effects stemming from exposure to EMF radiation have arisen. Senatori is concerned that like other things that have been proven harmful over time, over robust objections from companies that make money from those products (i.e. cigarettes), EMF radiation may take some time to fully understand. Until then, he is advocating for his employer to be preventatively cautious about how much EMF radiation workers are exposed to.

One day in February Senatori came to the San Francisco Local 21 offices to demonstrate how simple it is to take EMF readings and situate employees so that they are not too near sources of radiation. He has requested that his employer do the same, but learned that not only is the equipment used by the City incapable of measuring EMF radiation at lower levels, but the City has no guidelines for how much EMF radiation is unsafe. The City’s lack of minimum standards is based on the World Health Organization, which has determined that there is no current scientific consensus on potential harm.  While Senatori’s department is doing a radiation survey of the workplace, there are no standards on EMF to judge against.

Senatori asserts that the IEEE, a technical and professional organization for the advancement of technology, calls for more research to be done but suggests a cautionary limit for sustained exposure to 650 mV, a level that many areas in his department exceed. Senatori has borrowed a device that can measure EMF at a lower level, because the City’s instruments can’t measure below 2,000 mV. Many areas in his worksite have sustained exposure of over 650 mV. Three of the four people who developed cancer were in areas with the highest EMF ratings taken by Steve: 4,000- 6,000 mVs. He’s not sure there is a correlation, but he thinks that it makes sense to limit exposure just in case. “If it’s not necessary, let’s not expose folks to EMF that could potentially cause problems. Let’s minimize risk,” says Senatori.

Senatori is asking the department to minimize risk for Local 21 members and other workers alike by doing things like updating its equipment to more sensitive machines that can measure EMF at lower levels, assessing every work station and moving workers away from things like DAS antennas and wifi access points, minimizing use of headsets where they are not needed, etc.

He’s a strong proponent of everyone minimizing their exposure levels in the personal lives too, just in case. Having bluetooth devices on the body for long periods of time, sleeping by your cell phone, and using wireless networks where wired access is available are some of the things he is mindful of in his own life.