Telcos scurry to conform to norms - Times of India - June 5, 2011
NEW DELHI: Indian telecom companies are scurrying to conform to the government's stipulated health norms in light of growing evidence on the cancerous nature of cellphone radiation.
There has been an amendment in the Access Service Licenses — mandating self-certification radiation levels of cellphone towers — to ensure compliance with WHO-endorsed guidelines of International Commission for Non-ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP). The stricture led 5, 88,645 out of 6, 05,859 base stations to get self-certification till March 31, 2011.
Speaking to TOI, Union minister of state for communications and Information Technology Sachin Pilot said non-compliance to the stipulated radiation limits carries a penalty of Rs five lakh for every mobile tower.
Talking on the cellphone could cause a malignant form of brain cancer, said International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) recently. It classified radiation emanating from cellphones alongside gasoline engine exhaust, lead and DDT as "possibly carcinogenic to humans".
IARC said, "The WHO/IARC has classified radiofrequency electromagnetic fields as possibly carcinogenic to humans (group 2B), based on an increased risk for glioma, a malignant type of brain cancer, associated with wireless phone use."
Pilot said, "We are not going to compromise with radiation limits since it has health-related concerns. The department of telecommunications set up an Inter Ministerial Group in August, 2010, to evaluate the evidence, revisit radiation guidelines for mobile towers and adopt guidelines for radiation emission by cell phones. This group has recommended radiation limits more stringent than that of the United Nations."
He added, "We had called for self certification of all mobile towers. Almost 90% of the towers have completed doing so. We have extended their time frame for six more months. However, the radiation limits they are complying to are the old ones. Once new compliance levels kick in, finalized by the Department of Telecom (DoT), they will have to conform to them too."
The Inter Ministerial Group in its report made some salient recommendations about mobile handsets. The group proposed revising the limit of 2 watts per kilogram averaged over 10 grams tissue to 1.6 watts per kilogram averaged over 1 gram tissue. It also called for mandatory declaration of radiation level on each mobile handset. As far as mobile towers are concerned they recommended radiation norms which are ten times as strict as the existing ones- from f/200 watts per square meter to f/2000 watts per square meter.
The group said mobile towers should not be installed near high density residential areas, schools, playgrounds and hospitals.
"The localized specific absorption rate (SAR) value as per the Indian guidelines is 2 watt per kg, averaged over a six minute period and using a 10 gram average mass. With higher SAR — a measure of the amount of radiofrequency energy absorbed by the body while using a phone of mobile handsets — the public could potentially receive much higher radiofrequency exposure. We have recommended that SAR levels to be lowered to 1.6 watt/kg, as prescribed by the Federal Communication Commission of US," said experts.
Girish Kumar, professor in department of electrical engineering at IIT Bombay, whose research on hazards of cellphone use was taken as a reference for the committee decision, said, "There is a 40% increase in the risk of brain cancer among teenagers using cell phones for long periods. The younger the child, the deeper is the penetration of electromagnetic radiation as children's skulls are thinner."
Another Jawaharlal Nehru University study found that the exposure to radiation from mobile towers and cellphones could have an adverse impact on male fertility and pose health hazards by depleting the defence mechanism of cells. The report also suggested that children, adolescents and pregnant women should avoid excessive use of cellphones. People should use hands-free technologies to minimize the contact of the head with cellphone. "People having active medical implants should keep their cellphone at least 30 cm away from the implant," it added.
(1) Stricter radiation emission guidelines soon: Sachin Pilot - http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/article2077205.ece
(2) Telcos scurry to conform to norms - http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Telcos-scurry-to-conform-to-norms/articleshow/8730447.cms