Should we be afraid of cell phone tower radiation?


The Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI) is trying to raise awareness with regard to cell phone towers, alleged radiation effects on life. Various environmentalist, rights groups, individuals and NGOs have voiced concerns, filed PILs over the issue. A Mumbai based radiologist, president of Indian Radilogy and Imaging Association, Dr. Bhavin Jankharia has said that “Mobile tower radiation is inherently a type of radiation that we believe does not produce any kind of significant harm to humans.”

Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR)’s chemical sciences professor R V Hosur said, “Non-ionising radiation such as mobile emission causes only local change in temperature depending on the extent of use”.

Noted brain-tumour specialist Dr Rakesh Jalali of the Tata Medical Centre said, “The RF (radio frequency) waves used in the mobile phone technology are probably at the lowest end of the electromagnetic spectrum and does not cause any DNA kill”.

The World Health Organization, in a September 2013 report has said that “Scientists have reported other health effects of using mobile phones including changes in brain activity, reaction times and sleep patterns. These effects are minor and have no apparent health significance.”

Professor Michael Repacholi, ex-EMF project co-ordinator for WHO, pointed out that the penetration depth of EMF is only 1-2 mm, so it never gets close to the foetus in any significant amount to cause any damage.

There are over 5,00,000 mobile phone towers spread across the country right now. ‘Since India does not have the land line infrastructure like the rest of the world, broadband services as envisaged by the government have to be through mobile phones. However, unless we get 30 percent more of the towers … it will be difficult,’ said COAI director general Rajan S. Mathews.

But the Delhi High Court recently has taken a not so favorable step towards these arguments by calling for a reduction in the number of cell phone towers in the residential areas of the national capital, acting on a PIL filed in this regard. Along with the Delhi government, notices are issued to health ministry and ministry of telecommunications too to give their views on the issue by August 9th. Now, when these ministries submit their views, the public will get to know the government’s view too on this issue.

Medaram Jathara

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