Several studies have been conducted all over the world, including India, on the harmful effects of cell phone radiation. Here are some practical and simple tips on how you can take precaution and protect yourself from radiation
India has about 100 crore mobile phone users and there will be roughly 5 lakh mobile towers by 2014, consuming a huge amount of energy—about 2.7 crore units of electricity and over 200 crore liters of diesel daily.
Various studies have been conducted all over the world, on the impact of cell phone’s electro-magnetic frequency (EMF) radiation on human, animal and plant life. While none of the studies are conclusive in pointing to the harmful effects such as EMF radiation, there is no harm in exercising care.
Several studies have been undertaken in India as well. The following is a list of such studies:
- • Science and Engineering Research Board (under Ministry of Science and Technology) invited R&D proposals (14 Jun 2013) to study possible impact of EMF radiation on human, plant and animal life.
- • Based on issue flagged by Minister of state (Science and Technology) Ashwani Kumar (20 Jul 2012), the prime minister’s expert panel would undertake a study on the impact of cell tower radiation on health.
- • A division bench of the Jaipur high court issued a show cause notice (2 Mar 2012) to 13 mobile companies, besides central and state authorities, on the issue of health hazards being caused by electro-magnetic radiations emitted by mobile towers, posing serious threat to public health and safety.
- • Ministry for Environment and Forests (MoEF) commissioned a study to understand the impact of cell tower radiation in the wake of disappearance of certain birds, bees and insects (Feb 2012).
- • A draft report of the Public Accounts Committee of Parliament (Nov 2011), expressed shock that Department of Telecommunication had NO monitoring mechanism to verify authenticity of the self-certification of the operators.
- • An inter-ministerial committee formed by the Indian government (Jan 2011) suggested that radiation from cell towers 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 for the public.
- • Union Minister of State for Communications and Technology Sachin Pilot said, “A national database with information of all base stations and their emission compliance is being created and will be posted on the Department of Telecom website.” (30 Oct 2010)
Simple Do's and Don’ts
We do not have to be fearful or stressed about radiation, but following these simple and common sense tips, while using a mobile phone, can help a lot:
- • Please avoid children from using mobile phones, since children's skulls are thinner than adults and have more fluids. Similarly, women must also minimise usage of cell phones during pregnancy.
- • No one should sleep with their cell phone under the pillow OR next do them. In fact it is recommended not to have any electrical appliances next to you while you sleep.
- • According to Spanish Neuro Diagnostics Research Institute, just speaking on the cell phone for two minutes can alter the natural electrical activity in the brain for up to one hour.
- • According to University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, by moving the mobile phone just 5cm (about 2 inches) away from your head while talking on it, you reduce the electromagnetic radiation that reaches your head by 75%. Ideally phone must be kept 15-18cm (about 6-7 inches) away from the body.
- • Using air tube headsets is better than using wired headsets which also act as antennae.
- • Bluetooth emission is 1/100th than a regular phone, but extended usage is not recommended.
- • We generally keep our mobile phones in our hip pockets. Our hip produces 80% of our bodies RBC (red blood corpuscles) and is susceptible to radiation. Close proximity can also affect fertility. Position the cell phone with keypad facing you. This way antenna faces away from the body tissues, which easily absorbs radiation.
- • Avoid using cell phones in metal enclosures like lifts, as the radiation is reflected.
- • Avoid using mobile phones when moving fast, like in cars, trains, as cell phones increase power to connect to the next base station.
- • Use cell phones only when signal strength is strong
- • Cell phones use full power when it is dialing out. Hence while dialing out, please hold the phone away from your body till it is picked up at the other end. (Several mobile phones alert users when the call gets response from other side or somebody answers the call. Use this feature, if available in your mobile phone)
- • SAR (Specific Absorption Rate) indicates the amount of radiation absorbed by the human head whilst using a cell phone. Please ensure that your cell phone has the lowest SAR value possible. (SAR value of each mobile handset is mandatorily written in the instructions booklet or guide)
Other safety precautions that can be considered in reference to radiation:
- • Like cell phone radiation, Wi-Fi radiation is classified by World Health Organisation (WHO) as a possible 2B carcinogen. Like all such devices, radiation drops as distance increases, so maintain safe distance from Wi-Fi routers.
- • You can also download apps on your cell phone, like EMF Hazards Detector or EMF Sensor Free, to get an indication of the radiation levels in your room.
- • Cordless phones emit more radiation than mobile phones hence make use of regular wired phones as far as possible.
- • Microwave ovens are also a significant source of magnetic fields and RF radiation.
(Gaurang Damani is an engineer and an eminent social and legal activist. He is also the founder of 'Karmayogi Pratisthan', an NGO that builds awareness and empowers people about how to deal with everyday problems. He is also the publisher of a website called DieHardIndian, an exhaustive repository of information for the Indian citizen.)