Comments on the Book Entitled, "Mobile Phones and Public Health - Myths and Reality", Edited by Ravi V.S. Prasad
Published by Har-Anand Publications, New Delhi, 2014.
Prof. Girish Kumar
Electrical Engineering department
IIT Bombay, Powai, Mumbai - 400076
email - firstname.lastname@example.org
Tel. - (022) 2576 7436
A book entitled, "Mobile Phones and Public Health - Myth and Reality" edited by Ravi V.S. Prasad and published by Har-Anand Publications, New Delhi, 2014 was launched by Dr. Michael Repacholi, Ex-head of the EMF Project of the World Health Organisation (WHO) at Press Club, Mumbai on Dec. 2, 2013.
On Jan. 9, 2014, there was a full page advertisement of the book in Hindustan Times and Bombay Times of Times of India. My immediate reaction was, “Full page advertisement of a book will cost lots of money, who is paying for it?”. I have never seen a full page advertisement of any book in a national newspaper. However, after reading the content of the advertisement, I could guess that cell operators and their associates are behind this, who are trying to create confusion in the minds of people and giving them false assurance that they are safe from high cell tower radiation.
I read the book and found my name has been mentioned several times in the book. I am not a movie star or a cricketer or politician or business tycoon or Gandhiji (most sought out people/names), then why my name has appeared at 12 places in a book of 132 pages? Lots of questions started floating in my mind:
What prompted the editor to compile this book?,
What prompted various authors to write chapters of the book and what are their backgrounds?,
Why book was launched by Dr. Michael Repacholi and who paid for his trip to India, why he was introduced by COAI people in the press club?,
Why spend so much money on a full page advertisement in major newspapers? and so on.
I started reading the brief description about the editor and various authors and also carried out Google search. I noted that some of them are associated with cell phone/tower industries in one or other way, and some of them have never worked in the areas of microwaves, antennas, microwave heating, biological effects, etc., “So what makes them experts to write the chapters in the book?”
One thing which came out loud and clear about "Why they love/hate me so much" because I have written report on "Cell Tower Radiation", which was submitted to Secretary, DOT in Dec. 2010, came out with two newsletters, conducted workshops and given lectures to create awareness about "Cell phone/tower radiation hazards and solutions". Obviously, these are not liked by cell phone/tower industry people due to their business interest. They and their associates and beneficiaries had been writing/telling at various forums in the past that there are no evidence of any health hazards due to cell phone/tower radiation. After WHO reported Cell phone as possibly carcinogen (Class 2B) on May 31, 2011, some of these people now state that there are no concrete evidence of health hazards. People should understand that "no concrete evidence" does not mean "no evidence".
Most of the places, the book has shown only one side of the coin or even part of one side of the coin, which is pro cell operators and also tried to defame me and my credibility and completely ignored several health hazards reported in 1000's of scientific papers. Through this document, I want to show other side of the coin, so that people will get complete picture. Let people see both sides of the coin and then decide what is the truth.
The book entitled "Mobile Phones and Public Health - Myths and reality", is edited by Ravi V.S. Prasad, who has also written "Foreword", Chapter 8 and "Afterword". It is collection of articles written by several people. It starts with Foreword, followed by eight chapters, and ends with Afterword. It also includes several Annexures.
BACKGROUND OF EDITOR AND CONTRIBUTORS OF THE BOOK
Let us start with Ravi V.S. Prasad, editor of the book, who has also written "Foreword". The following site gives details about him, which quotes, "Since 1995, Ravi Visvesvaraya’s articles in the [Hindustan Times], Telegraph, Financial Express, and [Indian Express], and his appearances on CNBC and Jain Television, have been instrumental in spurring the growth of India’s telecommunications sector, and several favorable government policies can be credited to his lobbying."
It is clear from the above that Ravi V.S. Prasad is a lobbyist for telecom sector. Hence, he decided to be editor of this book, which consists of articles favoring telecom industry.
First chapter is written by Dr. Vasant Natarajan, Professor, Dept. of Physics, IISc Bangalore. His research interests and activities are: High-resolution spectroscopy; Absolute frequency measurements; Quantum optics; Hyperfine-structure measurements; Laser cooling and trapping of atoms; Search for electric dipole moment using laser-cooled Yb atoms as a test of time-reversal symmetry violation; Ion trapping and its use in quantum computation; Optical tweezers and trapping of single RBCs.
Second chapter is written by Prof. Susanta Sen, Univ. of Calcutta. His research areas are:
Quantum and Optoelectronic Devices, OEIC, Instrumentation, VLSI Design. Third chapter is written by Dr. K.S. Parthasarathy, Former Secretary, Atomic Energy Regulatory Board.
Quantum and Optoelectronic Devices, OEIC, Instrumentation, VLSI Design. Third chapter is written by Dr. K.S. Parthasarathy, Former Secretary, Atomic Energy Regulatory Board.
It is obvious that all the above three contributors do not have experience in the areas of microwaves, antennas, microwave heating, biological effects, etc., so what makes them an expert to write a chapter in this book.
Chapter 4 is written by Michael Repacholi, Ex-WHO, EMF project, 1995 till June 2006. He was also Founding Member and Chairman of ICNIRP. A Google search reveals his role and industry support, which are summarized as follows:
"Just months after leaving his post as the head of the EMF project at the World Health Organization (WHO), Mike Repacholi is now in business as an industry consultant. He admits Interference from the Industry at the World Health Organisation EMF Project. Not only did Repacholi control the WHO EMF project from its inception, but its main source of funding was Industry. Repacholi arranged for the industry money to be sent to the Royal Adelaide Hospital in Australia, where he used to work. The funds were then transferred to the WHO. Norm Sandler, a Motorola spokesman, told that, “This is the process for all the supporters of the WHO program.” At the time, Motorola was sending Repacholi $50,000 each year. That money is now bundled with other industry contributions and sent to Australia by the Mobile Manufacturers Forum (MMF), which gives the project $150,000 a year.
Funding summary for the International EMF Project (July 2006 – June 2007) states that the INCOME of $249,682 came from various Governments and $529,820 from Others. The “Others” is almost entirely sourced from the Royal Adelaide Hospital, and hence from Industry. The indirect funding arrangement was terminated after Repacholi's departure from the WHO.
With the source of WHO EMF Project funding exposed, Repacholi's role in the WHO EMF Project explained and his continuing role of roving ambassador for Industry, isn't it about time that people ignore Repacholi and the WHO EMF Project reports (earlier than 2007) that industry representatives often quote?"
Chapter 5 is written by A J Swerdlow, and others. Google search reveals "Prof. A J Swerdlow holds shares in the telecom companies Cable and Wireless Worldwide and Cable and Wireless Communications and his wife holds shares in the BT group, a global telecommunications services company".
Chapter 6 is written by Dr. Jack Rowley, Senior Director, GSM Association. He represents GSM industry and will try to influence and present the views, which are suited to the industry than to the people.
Chapter 7 is written by Dr. Bhavin Jankharia, Radiologist. It appears that he does not have experience in the areas of microwaves, antennas, microwave heating, biological effects, etc., so what makes him an expert to write a chapter in this book.
Thus, some of the contributors are associated with cell phone/tower industries in one or other way and some of them have never worked in the areas of microwaves, antennas, microwave heating, biological effects, etc., so they are not the right experts to write about hazards of cell phone/tower radiation. Let us see what they have written, how they are misleading the people by giving partial truth and conveying the message that all is well, whereas in reality, extreme precautions and safety measures are required to use cell phone technology safely.
COMMENTS ON RADIATION ISSUES COVERED IN THE BOOK
Since many things are repeated by authors in various chapters, I have summarized my comments under various sub-headings to avoid repetition.
Comparison of Sun radiation versus cell tower radiation
They compare sun radiation with cell tower radiation and say sun radiation density is 1000 W/m2, which is thousands of times larger than cell tower radiation density of 0.1 W/m2. Hence cell tower radiation is not harmful. They have also written that if you place a container of water outdoors, it will not boil no matter how long it is exposed to sunlight.
It is agreed that if one places a container of water outdoors, it will not boil no matter how long it is exposed to sunlight. However, if the same container of water is kept inside a microwave oven, it will boil in a few minutes. Thus, even though sun intensity of 1000W/m2 cannot boil the water, yet 500W of microwave power can boil the water in a few minutes. Even 1/10th of this power will boil the water in less than an hour, and even 1/100th of this power (i.e. 5W) will boil the water in less than a day. There is a different mechanism of heating. In case of microwave oven operating at a frequency of 2450 MHz, water molecules vibrate at a speed of 2.45 billion times per second, which creates friction and leads to heating. In many countries, frequency of 915MHz is also used for industrial microwave heating.
Sun exposure is not continuous whereas microwave radiation due to cell tower radiation is 24x7. People do not stand in the sun for hours and clothes act as protective shielding from sun. People who do sun bathing for long hours have reported sun tanning, skin burning and even skin cancer. Sun radiation causes heating from outside to inside. The skin of human body acts as an insulator from sun and as the temperature increases, skin will either feel the burning sensation or starts sweating. In addition, air breeze takes away the heat. Whereas, microwave radiation from cell phone and cell tower penetrates the skin and at a frequency of 900 MHz, water (including blood, fluid, etc.) molecule vibrate at a speed of 900 million times per second, which creates friction, damages DNA and also leads to heating. This heating is from inside to outside and the heat is trapped inside the human body with no escape through the skin. Also, affect of microwave radiation is cumulative in nature and the harmful effects are noticed after a few months to a few years depending upon the intensity of the radiation.
Human body consists of 70% liquid and brain contains 90% liquid. When cell phone and cell tower radiation of GSM900 impinges on human body, the water (including blood, fluids, etc.) inside the body vibrate at a speed of 900 million times per second, which creates friction. This friction damages the DNA and if damage to DNA is greater than DNA repair, it initiates mutation and cancer.
Comparison of Ionizing radiation versus Non-Ionizing radiation of cell phone/tower
The authors, cell operators and their associates have been repeatedly saying/writing/speaking at various forums that Ionizing radiation (UV Rays, X-Rays, Nuclear) can break the bond due to its higher frequency and hence higher energy, whereas cell phone/tower radiation has much lesser frequency and hence lower energy, which cannot break the bond and hence cannot damage DNA or cause cancer.
It is agreed that ionizing radiation (UV Rays, X-Rays, Nuclear) has higher frequency and hence higher energy, which can break the bond and cause significant damage to the human body, including cancer. However, the claim is not correct that one cannot get any mutation (or damage) in the DNA (biological reaction) due to cell phone frequencies, which is non-ionizing radiation. Even though microwave frequency is less, which implies less energy due to the equation Energy E = hxf, where h is Planck's constant and f is frequency. However, all the world's phenomenon cannot be explained by a single equation of physics. Energy is also defined as E = power x time, which is easily understood and experienced by people. For example, standing for longer time in the sun, one will feel more heated, so time is important. Also, standing in the sun during noon and evening for the same time, one will feel more heated during noon because sun intensity is more (in other words, power is more). In both the above cases, only E = hxf will give same value, and hence cannot explain the phenomenon, so one has to use E = power x time. It is unfortunate that only first equation is used to explain and emphasize the view-points by totally ignoring the second equation. Is it lack of knowledge or they trying to confuse people by making statements, which are favorable to telecom industry.
I will like to quote Dr. Martin Blank of Columbia University, past president of the Bio-electromagnetics Society, "These physicists are thinking about what they know well—heating effects on matter - but it's clear they need to start spending time with the biologists! And they should certainly not be opining on this subject until they have read the science on the biological effects of EMF at non-thermal exposures." For more details, please see:
There are several references given in my report submitted to Secretary, DOT in Dec. 2010. Also, large number of references are given in Bio-Initiative Report 2012 (www.bioinitiative.org). On Page 47 of this 1479 pages report, it is mentioned, "In twenty-four technical chapters, the contributing authors discuss the content and implications of about 1800 new studies. Overall, these new studies report abnormal gene transcription (Section 5); genotoxicity and single-and double-strand DNA damage (Section 6); stress proteins because of the fractal RF-antenna like nature of DNA (Section 7); chromatin condensation and loss of DNA repair capacity in human stem cells (Sections 6 and 15)".
ICNIRP - Funding Questioned by People
India had adopted ICNIRP (the International Commission on Non-Ionising Radiation Protection) Guidelines in 2008. ICNIRP is an NGO, whose funding has been questioned by large number of people. Google search words as "ICNIRP funding" leads to several websites:
The following paragraph is taken from the site:
"It should be noted that ICNIRP is not a transparent organization. It has never disclosed the sources of its funding nor the procedures for the selection of its members. ICNIRP was established by Mike Repacholi, who has long had financial ties to both the telecom and electric utility industries."
One can see website of Dr. Magda Havas, Associate Professor, Environmental & Resource Studies, Trent University, Peterborough, ON, Canada, at: http://www.magdahavas.com. She has uploaded several reports, videos, etc. showing adverse effect of cell phone, cell tower and wireless radiation. One can see "Conflict of Interest: the Wireless Industry and ICNIRP" at:
Most of the ICNIRP Guidelines are suited to the industry and hence widely publicized by them. India adopted 1/10th of ICNIRP Guidelines from Sep. 1, 2012, which implies safe radiation density of 450 milliWatts/m2 for GSM900, however, these are still very high. For 24x7 exposure, safe radiation density should be less than 1milliWatts/m2.
WHO reported Cell phones as “Possible Human Carcinogen” (Class 2B) in May 2011
The authors, cell operators and their associates make fun of WHO (World Health Organization) Class 2B classification of cell phones and made statements that cell phone is as dangerous as eating pickles and drinking coffee.
Let me ask, how many times people eat pickles in a day, may be, maximum 2 to 3 times; how many times people drink coffee, may be maximum 2 to 5 cups of coffee per day. Similarly, using cell phones for up to 10 to 30 minutes may be safe depending upon SAR value of the cell phone. Interphone study released in May 2010 reported 5,117 brain tumor cases and stated that people who use cell phones for 30 minutes per day over a duration of 8 to 10 years, have doubled to quadrupled chances of getting brain tumor, and that's why it was classified as Class 2B. WHO did not classify it as Class 3 or Class 4, which implies no evidence. Use of cell phones is a personal choice but what about people who live in the vicinity of cell towers, they are exposed to the radiation 24x7.
According to Dr. Anthony Miller, who was on the IARC committee, the accumulated evidence is now strong enough to suggest RF fields really should be classified as a 2A or “probable carcinogen.”
A study published in September 2013, “Case-control study of the association between malignant brain tumors diagnosed between 2007 and 2009 and mobile and cordless phone use” by Hardell et al also confirmed previously reported results showing an association between cell phones and malignant brain tumors, suggesting RFs from cell phones may play a role in both the initiation and promotion of cancer.
And another study by Hardell et al, published in December 2013 showed that the evidence available suggests that RF-EMF exposure from mobile (and cordless) phones should be regarded as an IARC class 1 human carcinogen. Alasdair Philips of Powerwatch (U.K.) says, “The criteria on strength, consistency, specificity, temporality, and biologic gradient for evidence of increased risk for glioma and acoustic neuroma were fulfilled.”
Thus, stronger evidences are emerging and scientists are urging WHO that RF fields really should be classified as Class 2A or “probable carcinogen” or even Class 1 or "human carcinogen".
Non-Conclusive versus Conclusive evidences of health hazards
The authors, cell operators and their associates say there are no conclusive evidences of health hazards due to cell phone and cell tower radiations.
Earlier, they used to say "there is no evidence" but after large number of scientific papers reported adverse health hazards, now they have started saying, "there is no conclusive evidence". Do they want millions of people to get affected before they accept, "it is conclusive" just like cigarette industry?
Various contributors have quoted studies and reports, which mention there are no health hazards but why they have ignored thousands of papers stating there are health hazards to the people, birds, animals, plants, trees, etc. Please see the following link:
The following text is taken from the front page of the link:
The following text is taken from the front page of the link:
When it comes to EMF issues, one of the most frequently heard phrases is "There is no evidence to support EMFs having health effects" or simply "There is no conclusive evidence".
We believe that this is completely wrong; there is an enormous body of evidence out there, but public and even academic awareness seems to be very poor. Therefore, we will be presenting a list of papers and ORs which either show serious effects or are considered important papers on the subject which we have collected over the years. This page will be regularly added to.
P This study has found effects from the exposure or radiation category
N This study has found no effects from the exposure or radiation category
- This study has offered important insights or findings but is neither a positive or null finding
The Bio-Initiative Report 2012 is prepared by 29 scientists and health experts from 10 countries and was uploaded in Jan. 2013 to create awareness. It is an update of Bio-Initiative Report 2007, which was published by Bio-Initiative Working Group that looked at more than 2,000 peer reviewed studies documenting bio-effects and adverse health effects from EMF exposures. They recommended safe radiation density of 1 milliwatts/m2 for outdoor and 0.1 milliwatts/m2 for indoor continuous exposure.
Bio-Initiative 2012 assessed 1800 new research papers (from 2006 to 2011) and mentioned that Bio-effects are clearly established and occur at very low levels of exposure to electromagnetic fields and radiofrequency radiation. Even at 0.03 milliwatts/m2, researchers have reported headaches, concentration difficulties and behavioral problems in children and adolescents; and sleep disturbances, headaches and concentration problems in adults.
Cell phone/tower industry criticized the report citing other reports and references. However, according to me, Bio-Initiative Reports of 2007 and 2012 are the most authentic reports on this subject, giving references of 3800 research papers, written by more than 1000 scientists, reviewed by equally large number of experts and published in the prestigious journals.
Scaremongering Reports versus Awareness about Health Hazards
On Page 13 of the book, it is written, "Most of the scaremongering reports in the media have been spearheaded by Professor Girish Kumar of the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay."
Creating awareness to the people about possible health hazards is important. I had submitted my report on "Cell Tower Radiation", to Secretary, DOT in Dec. 2010. It contained 30 pages of report and nearly 200 scientific/technical references. Also, gave presentation to Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) at Delhi in Oct. 2010. IMC committee members interacted with various stake holders (scientists, doctors, concerned citizen group, cell operators and their associates, etc.), went through several scientific/technical references and noted several health hazards, and finally came out with a report in Jan. 2011. They recommended reduction of norms to 1/10th of ICNIRP Guidelines, but even this is very high for 24x7 exposure. I conducted two workshops on "Cell Phone/Tower Radiation Hazards and Solutions" at IIT Bombay on Nov. 20, 2011 and July 9, 2012. It was attended by various scientists, doctors, concerned citizens, telecom industries and their associates. I have also given lectures to create awareness about "Cell phone/tower radiation hazards and solutions". Later on, I came out with two newsletters on "Cell Phone/Tower Radiation Hazards and Solutions" in 2013, where I have given several reported cancer cluster cases of people living in the vicinity of cell towers, DOT Guidelines not sufficient to protect people, Global Studies, etc. Obviously, these are not liked by cell phone/tower industry people due to their business interest.
COMMENTS ON SOME OF THE ANNEXURES IN THE BOOK
In Annexure I, WHO Questions & Answers dated Sep. 20, 2013 states:
Q: What are the health risks associated with mobile phones and their base stations?
A: This is a question which WHO takes very seriously. Given the immense number of people who use mobile phones, even a small increase in the incidence of adverse effects on health could have major public health implications. Because exposure to the radiofrequency (RF) fields emitted by mobile phones is generally more than a 1000 times higher than from base stations, and the greater likelihood of any adverse effect being due to handsets, research has almost exclusively been conducted on possible effects of mobile phone exposure.
It is very important to note that according to WHO, "RF fields emitted by mobile phones is generally more than a 1000 times higher than from base stations", which implies base station radiation is 1/1000th of mobile phones. I have measured radiation density of cell phones in the Antenna Lab at IIT Bombay, the max. average value is less than100 milliwatts/square meter, when cell phone is in the talk mode. So, base station radiation should be 100/1000 = 0.1 milliwatts/square meter. So, WHO answer implies that any adverse effect are less likely for cell tower radiation less than 0.1 milliwatts/square meter. According to me and Bio-Initiative report, less than 0.1 milliwatts/square meter is safe. However, in India, we have adopted 450 milliwatts/square meter for 24x7 exposure.
Annexure VI includes statement of President, Delhi Medical Association that "Radiation from the mobile towers poses no threat to health.....WHO, which comes out fact sheets from time to time". It is unfortunate that he has ignored Bio-Initiative report 2012 and 1000's of scientific papers reporting health hazards due to cell phone/ tower radiation. Due to high radiation, people living in the vicinity are experiencing several health problems, such as, sleep disorder, headache, lack of concentration, memory loss, eyes and ears problems, joint problems, cardiovascular problems, miscarriage, infertility, cancer, etc.
Guideline of the Austrian Medical Association for the diagnosis and treatment of EMF related health problems and illnesses adopted on 3rd March 2012 in Vienna are:
Irrespective of the ICNIRP recommendations for acute effects, the following benchmarks apply to regular exposure of more than four hours per day.
High-frequency electromagnetic radiation (as power flow density)
· ≥1 mW/m2 - very far above normal
· 0.01-1 mW/m2 - far above normal
· 0.001-0.01 mW/m2 - slightly above normal
· ≤0.001 mW/m2 - within normal limits
The benchmarks listed are intended to be applied to individual types of radiation, e.g. GSM,
UMTS, WiMAX, TETRA, radio, TV, DECT or WLAN, and refer to peak levels.
Annexure VII includes statement of 24 IIT/IISc Professors on Indian Standards on EMF. They have themselves mentioned, "some of our work has been funded by various government agencies and by telecom operators.... have also been independent board members of these companies." There are 8 Telecom Centers of Excellence (TCOE), which are primarily funded by:
- Aircel at IISc Bengaluru
- Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd. (BSNL) at IIT, Kanpur
- Bharti Airtel at IIT Delhi
- Idea Cellular at IIM Ahmedabad
- Reliance Communications at IIT Madras
- Tata Teleservices at IIT Bombay
- Vodafone Essar at IIT Kharagpur
- RailTel at IIT Roorkee
The telecom companies provide a major share, 90%, of the funding to TCOEs. At IIT Bombay, Bharti Telecom has given US$ 1Million and Tata Teleservices has agreed to pay Rs. 12 crores and approximately half of that amount has been received and balance amount will come in a few years. Similarly, other TCOEs receive crores of rupees of funding from the industry. Many of these professors have been working in Industry sponsored Telecom Centers of Excellence. and some of them have been board members of telecom companies, so their view-points support DOT norms, which are beneficial to telecom industry. Also, majority of them have worked on baseband, signal processing, network protocol, etc. and have not worked on microwaves, antennas, microwave heating principle, biological effects, etc. So, people have to ask these professors, what makes them an expert to write such statement, what studies they have carried out, how much funding they have received from the telecom operators, why they ignored 1000's of papers stating there are health hazards due to overuse of cell phones and higher cell tower radiation, and so on.
(NOTE: I know many of these IIT Professors and some of them are my friends. They have done great academic and research work and have contributed immensely in imparting knowledge to the students and contributing towards the growth of the country. However, it is unfortunate that they issued the statement, which is favorable to the telecom industry and ignored health hazards associated with high cell tower radiation, which is affecting people, birds, animals, plants, trees, etc. I had no choice but to issue this document as overuse of cell phones and high cell tower radiation concerns health of the people and environment, which is more important from humanity point of view).
My daughter, Neha Kumar, has a company named, "NESA Radiation Solutions Pvt. Ltd", which gives radiation shielding solutions to protect people from the harmful effects of cell tower radiation. If Govt. adopts better radiation norms, which will compel cell operators to reduce the transmitted power, then who will need the shielding solutions?