Does mobile tower radiation endanger your life?
Alekh Angre 23 January 2012

Experts from the industry remain divided on the issue of health hazards caused due to radiation from mobile towers

With the increase in mobile phone usage throughout the world, the effect of radiation from mobile phones and towers on human health is the subject of recent interest and study. While industry players continue to assure us that these towers do not pose any risk to human lives, academicians and scientists have a different opinion on the subject.

“Neither I am against mobile phone towers nor am I against the service providers. I am also not saying the norms (for mobile tower radiation) have been flouted. All I am asking is to reduce the electromagnetic radiation (EMR) level of these towers. I have problem with the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) and the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) for adopting the worst radiation norms in India,” said Prof Girish Kumar. He was speaking at a meeting organised by Bombay Telephone Users’ Association (BTUA) on mobile tower radiation and green telecom, in Mumbai.
While Prof Kumar cited studies explaining various health hazards due to mobile tower radiation on human and wildlife, another panellist Rajan Mathews, director-general Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), also citing numerous research and studies, counter argued saying that the radiation norms are within safety limit. “There is no conclusive evidence to show that mobile tower radiation is carcinogenic. The International Commission on Non-Ionising Radiation Protection (INCRP) guidelines are within safety limit and there is no ill-effect on biological health,” Mr Matthews said.

In India, the radiation norms have been adopted according to the INCRP for base station emission with 9.2 watt per square meter (W/sqm). Across the globe, several countries have adopted their own standards as nobody really knows what level of mobile tower radiation is safe and what is dangerous. Countries like Austria have a strictest norm of 0.001W/sqm and China has 0.4W/sqm.

However experts say that these guidelines are questionable. Prof Kumar said, “The guidelines clearly say that it is to protect against the short-term gross heating with average of over six minute per day. But here in India, it is adopted for 24 hours. We are just making mockery of the INCRP guidelines. A simple calculation shows that the practice followed in India under the INCRP guidelines is more or equal to putting someone in a microwave for 19 minutes.”

Explaining the biological hazards of these radiations, Prof Kumar said that there have been cases of people from one particular apartment, continuously exposed to radiation due to tower installed opposite to them, developing cancer. “This is not a coincidence. In fact the cancer is in the last stage. There are short-term hazards like memory loss, irritation, drying of fluids around the eyes, brain joints, heart and abdomen, cardiovascular diseases, sleep disruption, if exposed to these radiations for long-term.”
According to Prof Kumar, there are studies providing the ill-effects of EMR on wildlife and bees. He also cited an example of a tree near Delhi-Gurgaon toll naka, which saw steady decline in lime production due to its constant exposure to the cell phone tower. However, Mr Matthews, citing various reports such as Interphone study conducted in May 2010, refuted studies stating that these are health hazards.

“Many years back I was personally invited to set up wireless communication in one of the hospitals of California. For the record, California has strictest rules and it is impossible for them to allow it if there is any health hazards. Since then, the  usage in that hospital has increased and not otherwise,” he said.
According to Prof Kumar, many studies on the ill effects of mobile tower radiation concludes that further research is required, but there is enough evidence to prove. “Interphone study concluded that there is no overall increase in risk but it suggested increase in glioma for heavy users. Blackberry gives a warning message that says use the mobile phone keeping 25mm away from the body, don’t keep it next to the abdomen of pregnant women, and reduce the amount spent on calls. Why could a mobile phone company ask to reduce the time on calls? Because they know that there is a problem.”

Following the public outcry against the ill-effects of radiation emission, the Indian government had 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.
The committee submitted its recommendations in January last year. It suggested that EMR from the cell phones should be brought down by one-tenth of the existing levels and also said that there should be provisions for continuous online monitoring and display of radiation levels.
“In fact the inter-ministerial committee reviewed 919 studies of which 539 said that there is an impact of the EMR,” Prof Kumar said.
“On immediate basis the emission should be reduced to 0.01W/sqm. This might result in high call drop out rates. Then in one to two years’ time, it should be further brought down to 0.001W/sqm. This will require investment and as per my analysis on the return on investment for the operators, they can increase the cost per minute by 0.10 per minute. The government should also be proactive in giving subsidies and reducing the license fees for the service providers,” the professor added.

Ramachandran G
1 decade ago
The norm for EMF radiation in India is already fixed and it should be lesser than 1W/sq.m . for 3G BTS and 925 mW/sq.m for 1800 MHZ band and 480 mW/sq.m for 900 MHZ band for the highest frequencies in those bands.This is one hundredth of the ICNIRP norm.
1 decade ago
Can you please help with an article which list how to get radiation checked, which are the agencies and how to take matter to local bodies where radiation limit is exceeded?

1 decade ago
The caption of your article "Experts from the industry remain divided on the issue of health hazards caused due to radiation from mobile towers" is itself a misleading oxymoron. Can you realistically expect any "experts " from an industry that feeds them to ever give an honest and unequivocal negative opinion. They are paid to obfuscate and mislead ! There is absolutely no doubt any more of the very harmful effects of the levels of radiation emitted by cell towers 24/7, on neighbouring residents. West Bengal recently commissioned a study by academics including Prof. Kumar, which came to the same conclusion, including on the basis of hard experiential evidence in Mumbai and Calcutta.
1 decade ago
I believe standards which will regulate what levels of radiation are safe and what are dangerous will change with time, according to new knowledge we will gain with new tests. Time will also show how much will our present immense use of EMF radiation emitting devices without proper protection influence our health. It\'s almost impossible to live today and avoid EMF pollution completely, precisely because things like cellphone towers and power lines - things we have no control over. All we can do at this time, which honestly scares me a lot, is to try to avoid being in proximity of those things, and it is very difficult thing to do cause EMF radiation sources are everywhere.
1 decade ago
The study of Prof Girish Kumar is far more convincing because of the results of his scientific study and results. Mr. Menon's arguments are copies from WHO reports and he believes that WHO reports are the Bible and beyond doubt .
We experience in today's age that results are manipulated by Scientific laboratories in lieu of a huge cut back from vested interests
We experience in our daily life that medical practitioners do not or are incapable of giving honest advice to their patients , rather they make patients to go in for numerous tests and earn cut backs .
There is bound to be deeper respect for Drs and Research scholars who use knowledge intuitively and serve their patients HONESTLY and not for money making only.
We should support Prof Girish Kumar and his team to extend his expertise to teams in other cities in India for them to make simiilar studies and complement him with their reports .
Richard Cameron
1 decade ago
Sorry forgot to put link for article
Richard Cameron
1 decade ago
This is becoming a big issue here in the UK - take a look at this article that was published this month.
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