A Story of RF Radiation Poisoning, Blogcast

Hello everybody. I have something special for you today. I have an interview with someone who had RF Radiation poisoning. I wrote a blog a few weeks back that had information in it about the climber that got RF poisoning years ago. His name is Bruce Elle and he was kind enough to let me interview him and broadcast it on my BlogCast podcast. You can listen to it here or get it on iTunes. It is over an hour so it’s not something that you can fly through.

I did edit out some swear words, the best I could. This is an adult conversation so be aware not to have children around for this. It is over an hour so make time to listen. You can listen or download it here. BlogCast is here.

Bruce and I have a goal of alerting people of the hazards of RF radiation. We would like to make sure you get the point that safety matters. Although we jump around in our conversation we want to drive home that the more you know the more you respect yourself. Respect yourself by looking for ways to keep you healthy, now and in the long run. You have the tools available to ensure that you will be safe barring a major failure, which happens in this business.

We start out by going into Bruce’s background as a climber and the history of the climbing business. Many people think that the way things are now is how it’s always been. Let me tell you it has come a long way. The advances in climbing and safety have been greatly advancing through training and education. The thing about climbers is that they hate to change the way they do things. So the key is to show them how it will help them improve their work and be safer. It is hard to slow down a seasoned climber because they want to race up the tower and get the job done. The focus is changing now to make sure that the job is not only done right but safety is the focus.

Focus, this is one thing that we all seem to have a problem with today. When you are going to head up the tower you need to have focus. Someone needs to be looking out for you. That is why I say the crew needs to work together so that each person is looking for something that the other person may have missed. But, back to the interview.

Bruce talks about how he climbed up the tower that day he got radiated. He was working on the antenna 550 feet up in the air. This was in February and he was sweating while sitting on the antenna. The beacon was on the antenna. For all of you guys that do cellular work may not understand that broadcast antennas were huge and the beacons were on the antenna itself. The antenna would be a huge steel structure made to be mounted on top of a tower. The engineering that went into these was amazing because it would not only radiate but it would need to be a solid steel structure, in this case, 50’ high, that you could climb on and it had a beacon on top.

So he was sitting on the antenna was on low power, which in this case was 35,000 watts coming out of the transmitter. This was considered safe at that time, can you believe it? This was considered safe for someone to site on the antenna to change out the beacon. This was considered a normal day at work.

Bruce didn’t have any real pain right away, he just felt really hot for the middle of February. He didn’t feel anything out of the ordinary until he got home that night, then the fever hit. He had to take an ice bath to break the fever. This was the beginning of so many problems that he still deals with today.

Back then he didn’t have RF alert meters, RF suits, or anything like that. Today you have the opportunity to prepare for the unseen hazards of RF radiation by preparing yourself with those tools. Bruce is telling this story so that no other human goes through the pain and suffering he has endured. OK, get it, he is trying to help all of you by sharing his experience. Listen carefully if you want to live a healthy life. Quality of life matters.

Listen to the interview, Bruce leads a climber’s life, not always perfect but he learned on the way. If you are new to this business you will learn a lot about the lifestyle. You can learn from his mistakes and set yourself up for success. Come up with a plan that will work for you. Think about how you can improve your life by reviewing the safety and lifestyle changes that will make you a better person in the long run. Bruce did this to help you all live a better life, he is here to help.

Let me know what you think. I am here to get the word out. I have a book for new climbers here. Like me on Facebook!

Here are some links, old and new, that will shed some light on RF Radiation poisoning.

1980 News on RF Radiation

2013 News on RF Radiation


HPIM2084 HPIM2097


  1. Note.
    Always take local control of transmitter.
    That way nobody can turn it back up while you are on the antenna.
    I have been climbing towers since 1986 in the early days we worked in 100% RF fields.
    Got my thumb burned real bad getting on a 50,000 wat A.M. tower in Denver. Told the engineer to turn it down to 5% so I could get on with a wrench. He did not understand decimal points. Turned it down to .5 which is 50% 25,000 was of AM. Will about blow your thumb off.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree, but most engineers will not always do their job or they get distracted. What I used to do is remind them again and again, I became annoying, but I told them I wanted to live, they seemed to understand. I just wanted them to take it seriously.


  2. Hey wade, I think it is great how you put together this blog/website. Do you or have you been employed in tower work? I was just curious buddy? I would love to chat with ya sometime a Lil more exstensive about radio frequency exposer and basically anything relating to communication industry, except of course the weather men out there, wow, talk about some interesting people! It is truly amazing how many folks it takes to put a 30 minute news clip together, broadcast it and manage everything that goes into true ‘Broadcast’, before digital and during the beginning of microwave 2 gig systems. That’s the real hot sticks, oh and larger omni a.m. Radio stations! I have burns on my hips from the rivets on my lineman belt I first wore, before the new style 5-6 d-ring full body harness. Like I always tell people, do you ever, very often see or hear radio and t.v. stations off the air, Not a common thing. 10%-50% power is never “off air”, it is regulations they say, but the FCC has never had true guidelines to how the service on a live broadcast antenna is to be performed.
    There, I feel better…..


    • Hi Cory,
      Thanks for the feedback, I really appreciate it. I climbed for 12 years, then I got more into the management and sales side. I am currently working as a solution architect for wireless build outs, small cell and LTE systems, mostly for public safety and carriers. I did this because there are so many problems in the industry which were ignored. I did several stories on the effects of RF on the body. In todays world people think that the lower RF is not an issue, but if you need to climb a broadcast tower or if Sirius/XM have an antenna nearby, you need to pay attention. Some people just have a low tolerance to RF, I have seen that too.
      If you want to talk, send me an email at wade4wireless@gmail.com and we can setup a call.


  3. I grew up around communication towers, my father owned a tower company in Nebraska. The industry has changed considerably thru the last 40 years, safety seems to be the main topic yet it is really not in forced. OSHA has some guidelines in place but compared to similar industries they really don’t have much of a foothold on anyone. As far as exposure to radio frequency they should infasize more attention to the long term affects on the human body, and less on whether you need to be trained on how to do the job physically and mentally. It used to be an elite employment opportunity to do tower work, now with cellular sites poked up every direction you look, everyone and their brother has tried the job. Don’t take that to heart, what I mean is most people never really understand what makes the cellular networks work as well as they do. Men and women give up their families to dedicate themselves to multiple weeks on the road, working some of the oddest work schedules, under some of the worlds most strenuous occupations ever. They seem to forget that if it wasn’t for these people, the society we have become a custom to would never have been possible.
    I am a proud guy who does HVAC work now days, but will always be a climber and will always remember how unique the business was, and will most likely be for as long as most of us finish out this life. Say a prayer for the dedicated folks who invest their lives to assure that our communication is forever improving because of their efforts.
    Thanks to the ones who have been injured or have lost their lives to the industry. Without all of them, our society as we know it would not be possible.


    • Cory,
      Thank you for taking the time to write a kind note to show the appreciation that these people do to make wireless communication a way of life for most people. I appreciate your thoughts!
      It’s great to know that climbing will always be in your heart!


      • You betcha, I am honored to be a seasoned climber, nobody understands how aggressive tower work really is, the fact that cellular companies make crews do cut over at night 80% of the time, thru darkness, weather,winds and other unusual conditions, it is amazing what all can possibly work against you. You have a great blog here, I have always followed Wireless Estimator and will follow your site too. My prayers go out to every man and women that is currently climbing and may they feel the pride of a champion trying to climb to heaven.
        Keep on digging!
        Cory Powell


  4. I could not fathom sitting on an antenna pumping out 35k watts. I work as a tower hand for a WISP. I am by no means a daily climber, usually 3-4 days a week for only a few hours unless I am doing a build from scratch. But I read religiously about the industry. I enjoy reading about and learning from the people that paved the way for me to do what I do!! Thanks for this, as I am not as educated as I should be about RF radiation poisioning. I do not climb AM/FM towers, and most stuff I work on is very low power (1W EIRP). This ia knowledge I may never nees to use, but is helpful for me to know. Again, thank you!


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