Monday, May 3, 2010

Concern over cellphone radiation

Asian Age - 30April 2010

Telecom has always hogged headlines albeit for different reasons.

If once it was for the mind boggling money created by telecom companies, the other time it could be the cut-throat competition. This time, however, it is in news for an entirely different reason altogether: These companies are now being accused of causing harm to human health and environment through the radiation emitted by their telecom towers. The claim, however, has been strongly refuted by the telecom companies.

“Currently, there is no monitoring system to check whether the radiation from the mobile towers is crossing the permissible levels. A single tower now-a-days has more than one company’s equipment these days,” contends Telecom Users Group of India (TUGI) president, Mr Anil Prakash.

Elaborating his claim further, Prakash says research studies show that people who live within 100 metre radius of a mobile tower suffer from headache. “But they feel relieved from headache as they go away from the proximity of the tower,” he says. Trai has already floated a pre-consultation paper on “mobile tower design, radiation and other issues”.

With the number of mobile subscribers shooting high and resultant popping up of more telecom towers, analysts emphasis the need for a thorough study on the allegations about mobile towers emitting radiation.

Responding to Trai’s preconsultation paper, TUGI said that the telecom operators are allowed to pump maximum 20 watts of electro magnetic radiation per carrier per sector from a cell site. "However, in order to get a better coverage, these operators pump 60-80 watts of energy per carrier per sector. The studies indicate that due to such high intensity of electromagnetic radiation the soft membrane of eggs of sparrows and crows fractures and thus their eggs never hatch,” it said.

The NGO says that they are reports about the disappearance of sparrows and crows in urban areas and one could easily infer that the reason is the uncontrolled electromagnetic radiation. “Some study predicts that honey bees will disappear by 2020 as they loose their navigational sense in high intensity electromagnetic field. It is predicted by the experts that brain and eye cancer will become epidemics in years to come,” said TUGI.

In its response to the Trai paper, Bharti Airtel said that the research by a number of organisations like World Health Organisation, British Medical Association, Royal Society of Canada have concluded that radio waves from mobile phones and towers are not harmful to health.

“Great myth is being created in the public domain that the wave of mobiles are
harmful for the health. Due to this myth, the residential societies are either not allowing the telecom operators to put the sites or now forcing them to vacate the premises,” it added.

The Consumer Care Society secretary, Mr Ravindra Nath Guru, said that the mobile companies in India have been asked to do selfcertification that they are following the radiation norms.

“In India, this concept of self-certification never works. There should be an audit by third party,” added Mr Guru.

He also flagged the issue that in order to get better coverage the mobile companies may be increasing the power beyond the allowed limits. “There should be a study on this issue by medical council along with consumer forums,” added Mr Guru.

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