Mitchell doesn't have 5G towers yet, but some residents suspicious about alleged health effects

The group of concerned Mitchell residents say the primary cause of the health risks of 5G is the electromagnetic radio frequency (RF) radiation emitted from the antennas, especially if they are installed in close proximity to where people reside.

In this 2019 photo, workers install a 5G wireless node in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Verizon Wireless handout photo)

Some Mitchell residents are sounding the alarm on the health risks they claim are caused by 5G technology, urging city officials to keep the cell towers out of Mitchell.

During the public input portion of Tuesday’s Mitchell City Council meeting, Beth Bauer, a Mitchell resident who addressed concerns over of 5G technology, she said she recently experienced health problems in Minneapolis due to living near a 5G cell tower, which are used to provide faster wireless network capabilities for cell phones and other wireless devices.

For Bauer, the health woes and concerns she has surrounding 5G technology led her to move from Minneapolis to Mitchell recently, solely to get away from a city that has 5G towers.

However, Bauer is concerned Mitchell will soon become ridden with 5G towers and cause the same health complications she experienced while living in the Minneapolis area. She said her health problems that she believes were directly caused by 5G included vertigo, nausea, anxiety, severe fatigue and headaches.

Bauer and three other Mitchell residents who spoke at the council meeting felt it was important to publicly express their worry and concern. They were expressing their opinions, whereas medical science is at the very least inconclusive about the claims.


“In April 2019, I started having issues when I was living in the Twin Cities, and I didn’t know 5G was already there. … Two weeks later, I went from being able to walk a mile or outside to not even being able to walk a block,” Bauer said, pointing to the symptoms as a sign of radiation poisoning from the 5G towers. “Then we looked again as my health was getting worse, and we found out we had 79 towers, which rendered me unable to walk. My hair was falling out, I had nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, dizziness, vertigo and fatigue.”

The Mitchell residents believe the primary cause of the health risks of 5G is the electromagnetic radio frequency (RF) radiation emitted from the antennas, especially if they are installed in close proximity to where people reside.

“5G explodes your cells and they die. Your body then has to purge them through your lymph system, and if you don’t keep up, you will eventually die from the radiation poisoning,” Bauer said, showing the council before and after photos of her while residing in Minneapolis when the 5G towers were installed. “There are 500 peer-reviewed scientific articles showing the health risks of 5G, and they were ignored by the FCC.”

Bauer alleged Mitchell has 5G towers installed around the city as of now, and those living close to them are in danger, she warned.

But to this point, Mitchell hasn't installed any small-cell 5G facilities, City Attorney Justin Johnson said. He said the city has not received any permits from wireless network companies to construct a 5G small cell facility in Mitchell. The primary cell towers Mitchell currently runs on is 4G technology.

But Johnson added there could be 5G transmitters on existing 4G cell phone towers owned by major tech communication companies since those towers in Mitchell are not subject to the same regulations as 5G small cell facilities. As of now, 5G technology has made its way into all 50 states in the U.S., and Sioux Falls is the closest city to Mitchell that has rolled out 5G cell towers, installing more than 60 in 2020.

Although there are no known 5G small cell facilities constructed in Mitchell as of yet, the City Council approved an ordinance in 2019 that paved the way for wireless technology companies to roll out 5G cell towers in Mitchell. As of now, Mitchell has 4G cell towers placed throughout the city, which emit less radiofrequency electromagnetic waves than 5G.

“We have not had any permits for 5G small cell facilities as of now. Companies would have to apply and pay the annual fee as part of the city’s application process for 5G small cell facilities to be installed,” Johnson said. “If they had an existing tower in place, we don’t have any involvement in whether they put a 5G transmitter on it. We don’t regulate the old traditional towers because they are not small cell facilities.”


In 2019, major cell phone providers began deploying 5G technology in cities across the country, which industry leaders tout as the “fastest” wireless network coverage available, providing much faster downloading speeds for cellular devices.

In 2019, Jeff Armour, a representative of Verizon Wireless, pitched the benefits of 4G and 5G technology to the Mitchell City Council. He highlighted how the small cell facility antennas -- which are roughly 2-by-3 feet in size -- have the capability of blending into utility poles and light poles.

“Many communities see the 4G and 5G technology as an economic driver, because it gives communities faster wireless speed,” Armour said.

Call to action

At Tuesday’s council meeting, Sonja VanErdewyk, of Mitchell, called on the community and city officials to be more aware of the health effects that she says are caused by 5G technology.

“They say the short-term and long-term effects include headaches, aches, pains, fatigue, tingling, stress, irritability, cancer, insomnia, brain tumors, anxiety and neurological issues such as depression,” she said, noting infants and younger children are more susceptible from developing health issues from 5G. “I would like the community to ask themselves this: Do we have a policy in place that allows the City Council to track 4G and 5G tower installations, and how will the community be protected from 5G rollout?”

VanErdewyk pointed to an appeal against 5G that was drafted by over 240 scientists from around the globe as a key piece of peer reviewed evidence detailing the alleged health implications of 5G technology.

In 2019, advisors to the International EMF Scientist Appeal, representing 248 scientists, resubmitted the appeal to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), requesting them to reassess the potential biological impacts of 4G and 5G telecommunication technologies on plants, animals and humans.

It was stated in the appeal that “Numerous recent scientific publications have shown that RF-EMF affects living organisms at levels well below most international and national guidelines. Effects include increased cancer risk, cellular stress, increase in harmful free radicals, genetic damages, structural and functional changes of the reproductive system, learning and memory deficits, neurological disorders, and negative impacts on general well-being in humans. Damage goes well beyond the human race, as there is growing evidence of harmful effects to both plant and animal life.”


Scott Bauer, a Mitchell resident who works for an out-of-state IT company, said studies have shown the health implications from 5G are cumulative, meaning they are slowly more noticeable over time.

Bauer said he recently tested electromagnetic frequency wave levels with a device he has, which he claimed showed were “200,000 times over the threshold for causing health effects.”

“The effects are cumulative, although some are more sensitive to the radiation than others as you can see. So we may not feel it now, but in time we all will,” Bauer said. “I work for an out-of-state IT company, and we’ve never run into any issues with just utilizing the 4G speeds. It isn’t that scientists aren’t aware of the risks and harms of 5G, it’s just being ignored for the sake of Big Tech’s benefit. We are asking for the towers to be removed now.”

For 4G, most mobile devices operate at frequencies below six gigahertz (GHz), while 5G uses frequencies from the millimeter wave bands between 28 GHz and 300 GHz. For all radio frequencies, 300 GHz is the international maximum level established to avoid any adverse health effects.

“We need to demand that the telecommunications companies have the burden of proof that these towers and technology is safe,” said Mitchell resident Isabella Stewart, who spoke to the council during Tuesday’s meeting. “We need to stop this unproven, unsafe technology from taking over our city. Our health and our lives depend on it.”


Sam Fosness joined the Mitchell Republic in May 2018. He was raised in Mitchell, S.D., and graduated from Mitchell High School. He continued his education at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion, where he graduated in 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor in English. During his time in college, Fosness worked as a news and sports reporter for The Volante newspaper.
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