The Hindustan Times unwittingly scares public

By publishing scientifically unsubstantiated claims on diseases and symptoms  attributed to cell tower radiation,The Hindustan Times unwittingly scares public  The highlighted portion titled “Why you should care” in  the  report (Residents hold march against mobile radiation, March 25)  on mobile radiation is a typical example.

Cell tower radiation is incapable of causing cancer  as it has a million times less energy.  It cannot  make structural changes in cells making them rogue cells which may multiply uncontrollably to form cancer.  There is no scientific support for other alleged hazards from cell tower/phone radiation.

In the latest report in The Hindustan Times, dated March 31, 2013, the reporter, Ms Reetika Subramanian claimed thus:

“HT has been campaigning , through a series of articles, against the harmful effects of mobile tower radiation and efforts of citizens to move them out of the residential areas.” This claim appeared frequently in virtually every report on the topic published in the paper.

What way does it matter whether the conclusions on the adverse effects of cell tower radiation are based on sound science or not!

Ms Reetika  reports (probably accurately) how public is reacting to cell  tower radiation hazards.. She should have spent a few minutes verifying the scientific validity of  the findings of  the Bioinitiative report 2012 (BIR 2012). She should have verified who the authors of the report were before relying on findings of  the report.

A critique on BIR 2012 is available

http://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/science/biased-unscientific-report-on-electromagnetic-radiation/article4313241.ece

The critique concluded thus:”Though BIR is not based on sound science, cell tower radiation scare mongers selling protective shields and RF measuring instruments (complying with BIR  make hay while the sun shines!”.  The Hindustan Times unwittingly encourages such scare mongers!

The WHO  in its Fact Sheet No 304 responded thus to the  scary stories on increased cancer incidence near cell towers: “Media or anecdotal reports of cancer clusters around mobile phone base stations have heightened public concern. It should be noted that geographically, cancers are unevenly distributed among any population. Given the widespread presence of base stations in the environment, it is expected that possible cancer clusters will occur near base stations merely by chance. Moreover, the reported cancers in these clusters are often a collection of different types of cancer with no common characteristics and hence unlikely to have a common cause.”

The Hindustan Times may not have the scientific resources to sift the corn from the chaff. But publishing assertive statements based on  unscientific reports is not appropriate; more so when such statements are likely to be taken as Gospel truths by an unsuspecting public. It is unfortunate that a leading daily such as The Hindustan Times behaves this way.

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About ksparthasarathy

I am a former Secretary of the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board. I am a former Raja Ramanna Fellow in the Department of Atomic Energy. Free lance journalism is my hobby
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