Disinformation on health effects of cell tower/phone radiation, a form of radiation terrorism

Disinformation on health effects of cell tower/phone radiation, a form of radiation terrorism

Cell towers mushroomed all over the county in an unbridled way rightly raising health concerns.

Mixing myths and half-truths cleverly and using telling jargon, scare mongers, with impressive credentials frightened the public while real specialists stood helplessly. Over the past few months, this new form of terrorism carried out by spreading disinformation took over our cities and small towns.

Internet carries all types of information. Trust only those from authentic and responsible sources such as the WHO, the UK Health Protection Agency etc. You should not listen to scare mongers (mostly sellers of protective accessories) who have their own agenda and lose sleep over the alleged risks from cell tower radiation.

Department of Telecommunication (DOT) has prescribed stringent radiation standards. Its cell tower radiation standards have a safety factor of 500. DOT must be more proactive in dispelling the wrong notions on the health effects of cell tower/phone radiation. About three years ago, I requested Sheri Milind Deora, MOS IT to publish the results of radiation measurements at various sites. Transparency is the best antidote to scare-mongering.

DISINFORMATION No 1

Activists wrongly claim that the Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) limit for cell phones — a safety standard of 1.6 W per kg — is actually for six minutes per-day usage!  So do not use phones for more than 18-20 minutes daily, they argue.

A cell phone kept near the ear will cause a small increase in temperature in regions close to the phone. Thermoregulatory mechanisms such as blood flow remove the heat establishing equilibrium in about six minutes. Thereafter, there will not be any increase in temperature. The six-minute interval is the time the body’s defence takes to reach equilibrium temperature. It is patently absurd to say that using a phone longer multiplies the risk.

DISINFORMATION No 2

Women run the risk of health problems such as “hormonal imbalances, miscarriages and breast and ovarian cancer as they tend to spend more time at home and are exposed continuously to these radiations”.

There is no scientific evidence to support this statement. No responsible agency such as the WHO accept such conclusions. Such disinformation is spread by companies selling screens, shields, wall papers etc against radiation. Search the background of those who make such statements.

DISINFORMATION No 3.

Cell tower radiation will cause “multiple resonances, localized heating resulting in boils, drying up the fluids around the eyes, brain, joints. heart, abdomen etc leg/foot pain, muscle and joint pain”. With cell towers erected all over the city, Mumbai is like a microwave oven

Exposure to cell tower radiation causes a very tiny increase in body temperature. At the radiation levels recommended by the International Commission on Non Ionizing Radiation Protection ((ICNIRP),the standard setting body, the increase  will be about 0.1Deg C; The Department of Telecommunication accepted one tenth of the ICNIRP values as the safety standard in India. At this level, the increase in temperature will be 0.01Deg C! Can such trivial increase in temperature cause the scary effects such as boils etc?

Activists gave presentations containing these impressive sound bites at medical colleges and other academic institutions in metro-cities and small towns. Unfortunately media gave free publicity to some of this disinformation.

Scientific facts

Unlike x-rays or gamma rays, cell tower radiation has a million times less energy. It cannot damage the cells in the body to change some of them into rogue cells with no rules or its own rules to multiply uncontrollably to form cancer. It may just warm up the tissue. Physically, cell tower radiation is not capable of inducing cancer in human body.

In June 2011, after an exhaustive review, the WHO concluded thus:  “A large number of studies have been performed over the last two decades to assess whether mobile phones pose a potential health risk. To date, no adverse health effects have been established as being caused by mobile phone use.”

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.”

Scientists have studied the potential health effects of radiofrequency radiation for several decades. Effects of cell phone /tower radiation for over 20 years. In May 2010, The INTERPHONE Study, the greatest study supported by the WHO concluded that overall, no increase in risk of brain tumours was observed with the use of mobile phones.

“There were suggestions of an increased risk of glioma at the highest exposure levels, but biases and error prevent a causal interpretation. The possible effects of long-term heavy use of mobile phones require further investigation”, the authors added.

Mobile phone users have increased dramatically over the past two decades. Brain cancer incidence has not registered any increase in that period. Results of studies which were published later are reassuring. Studies must continue.  The safety standards prescribed by Department of Telecommunication are very conservative and have significantly large safety factors. Extensive measurements done on thousands of locations in the country have shown that the stringent DOT safety standards can easily be complied with. Compliance with these standards is mandatory. There are no reasons to lose sleep over alleged adverse health effects of cell tower/phone radiation

 

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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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