Union minister of state for IT and communication Milind Deora told dna, ‘This committee is carrying out an India-centric study in which it will examine the harmful effects of radiation from cell phone towers on the population living in the vicinity as well as its adverse impact on ecology.’
Deora added that the study is currently being undertaken and will take some time to be completed.
The committee is headed by Dr NK Ganguly, former director general of Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), with representatives from Department of Telecommunications, IIT Chennai, Indian Institute of Toxicology Research (Lucknow), Ministry of Environment & Forests and the Department of Science and Technology.
Deora said that the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) is not showing the leadership it should have in preparing the mobile tower policy. ‘The BMC should take a lead and prepare a robust policy to better regulate the mobile towers in the city. It should do this on a war footing as per the advisory guidelines issued by the DoT last month,’ added Deora.
When asked about activists’ demand of putting a cap on the number of antennas on a mobile tower, Deora said we have gone through every aspect in the ministry to frame a policy at the national level.
We talked to Neha Kumar who has been studying about radiation from cell phones/towers for about three years and has interacted with experts, researchers, doctors and patients around the world who have been affected by prolonged exposure to cell phone/tower radiation. She is also the Director of NESA, a firm which designs radiation measurement, analysis and shielding equipment. Excerpts from the interview:
How exactly does mobile radiation cause health problems?
Mobile phones and towers emit electromagnetic radiation having health effects which can be divided into thermal and non-thermal. Thermal effects refer to heating effect which you observe if you hold the phone for long near your ear. Non-thermal effects on the cells, genes and the DNA and are more harmful than thermal effects. Excessive use of mobiles can lead to headache, sleep disturbance, lack of concentration, memory loss, tinnitus (ringing in the ears) and increased risk of brain cancer. Having mobile towers in your neighbourhood can also pose health problems like severe headache, sleep disturbance, constant body pain, memory problems, joint pains etc. The more severe health effects noted include infertility, miscarriage, neurodegenerative disorders (Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, etc.), heart problems and cancer.
If someone lives near mobile towers, what can they do about it? How can they detect whether they are being harmed or not? Who can they complain to?
If someone lives close to a mobile tower:
- One can request the operators to reduce the power transmission
- Change the angle of the antenna so that no house falls in the main beam of the antenna, or
- Go for Shielding Solution
Is there any active research/initiative taking place to counter these harmful effects? What alternatives do people have?
All over the world, people are going for fibre optic solution, low power transmitting antennas and in-building solutions and repeaters.Alternatively, areas where the radiation levels are high, people can go for radiation shielding solutions like – Window Shielding Film, Shielding Curtains, Radiation Shield units etc.
With inputs from DNA