Reprinted from Jansamachar, Rural India
25 December 2012
On Electromagnetic fields and cancer, the WHO stated thus: “Despite many studies, the evidence for any effect remains highly controversial.However, it is clear that if electromagnetic fields do have an effect on cancer, then any increase in risk will be extremely small. The results to date contain many inconsistencies, but no large increases in risk have been found for any cancer in children or adults.”
Health Effects of Cell Tower Radiation
Writer : Dr K S Parthasarathy, Former Secretary, Atomic Energy Regulatory Board
For the past few months, a section of the media has been highlighting scary stories on the health effects of cell tower radiation. These stories seem to grow legs as some telecom “experts” joined to spread scientifically unsubstantiated information on the adverse impacts of radiation.
The health disorders listed are “sleep disturbances, headaches, fatigue, joint pains, memory loss, increased heart rate.”, among others. Some dispatches claimed that according to “experts” prolonged exposure to cell tower radiation increases the risk of neurological disorders and cancer.
Surprisingly-similar wording of the gruesome impacts as narrated in power point presentations at some seminars, the YouTube and websites indicate that there are some other agencies at work.
The presentations contained vivid sketches of brain cancer that may be induced in the skull of children. Never mind, there was no scientific evidence. The purpose was to shock the viewers and to condition their minds to distorted and skewed perceptions. One can easily locate the agents creating the phobia by a few minutes of surfing the internet.
In their presentations, one may not see any support to the recommendations published by the the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNRIP) or World Health Organization (WHO) or national agencies such as the US Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) or the Health Protection Agency of the UK.
Initially, the lack of guidelines in India exacerbated the issues. The demand for cell phones was unbridled. Cell towers sprang up everywhere allegedly without the needed approvals.
In 2008, Government of India adopted the Guidelines developed by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) for Electromagnetic radiation from mobile towers. The values chosen for the permissible Power Density are 4.5 W/Sqm for 900 MHz and 9 W/ Sqm. for 1800 MHz.
Based on media reports and public concerns, the Government set up an Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) of specialists on August 24, 2010. The Committee examined the environmental and health related concerns and indicated that most of the laboratory studies were unable to find a direct link between exposure to radio frequency radiation and health; and the scientific studies as yet have not been able to confirm a cause and effect relationship between radio frequency radiation and health. The effect of emission from cell phone towers is not known yet with certainty.
However, the IMC recommended lowering the mobile towers’ EMF exposure limits to 1/10th of the existing prescribed limit as a matter of abundant caution. The Government accepted the recommendation and issued directions making the new norms applicable from September 1, 2012. DOT guidelines which is one tenth of ICNRIP guidelines are very safe.
One of the inputs received by the Department of Telecommunication was a document titled “Report on Cell Tower Radiation”, a classic example of a biased and unscientific study The report cherry picked many references to support its preposterous claims. The report which masquerades as scientific contains 17 or so YouTube presentations!
The report listed symptoms and diseases allegedly caused by electromagnetic radiation. The only items not included in it were jealousy and baldness! The author mined part of the scary data from “papers” of Arthur Firstenberg, a symbol of the collective schizophrenia against RF radiation. He is the founder director of the “Cellular phone task force” which is “dedicated to halting the expansion of wireless technology because it cannot be made safe”.
On health effects of cell tower radiation, this writer would like to accept the views of agencies such as the World Health Organization rather than those who seem to have a separate agenda.
After a comprehensive review of relevant literature, the World Health Organization stated thus:
“Considering the very low exposure levels and research results collected to date, there is no convincing scientific evidence that the weak RF signals from base stations and wireless networks cause adverse health effects”.
“Some members of the public have attributed a diffuse collection of symptoms to low levels of exposure to electromagnetic fields at home. Reported symptoms include headaches, anxiety, suicide and depression, nausea, fatigue and loss of libido. To date, scientific evidence does not support a link between these symptoms and exposure to electromagnetic fields”.
On Electromagnetic fields and cancer, the WHO stated thus:
“Despite many studies, the evidence for any effect remains highly controversial. However, it is clear that if electromagnetic fields do have an effect on cancer, then any increase in risk will be extremely small. The results to date contain many inconsistencies, but no large increases in risk have been found for any cancer in children or adults.”
The American Cancer Society (ACS) stated that “At this time, there is very little evidence to support this idea that cellular phone towers do cause cancer.”
ACS listed important points that would argue against cellular phone towers being able to cause cancer.
ACS noted that very few human studies have focused specifically on cellular phone towers and cancer risk. In the largest study published to date, British researchers compared a group of more than 1,000 families of young children with cancer against a similar group of families of children without cancer.
“They found no link between a mother’s exposure to the towers during pregnancy (based on the distance from the home to the nearest tower and on the amount of energy given off by nearby towers) and the risk of early childhood cancer.”, the ACS added.
Recently, the Government of India made arrangements to measure radiation levels at different sites in Mumbai city. This writer requested Shri Milind Deora, Minister of State for Communication and IT to publish the levels measured at different sites and compare them with the DOT guidelines. This will go a long way to allay the genuine fears of the public.
I received some feedback from senior DOT officials that there are some other issues to be settled before the suggestion can be implemented. Transparency is the best way to counteract scare mongering.
Original Source : PTI Feature