09 january 2013
Following the WHO report classifying radiation emitted from mobile phones as possibly carcinogenic, a new global report has reaffirmed the risks involved with using such technology. BioInitiative 2012, a collaborative effort by 29 authors from 10 countries, has listed brain tumour and loss of fertility in men as possible health hazards associated with exposure to radio frequency radiation emitted by mobile phone handsets and signal towers. Given that India is the fastest growing market for mobile phones in the world, the ramifications are indeed worrisome. Despite the growing body of research, there continues to be a serious lack of consumer awareness on the subject. Combined with the fact that mobile phones are increasingly becoming vital tools of modern life, there is an urgent need for regulation and oversight.
There is no denying that the spread of mobile phones across the globe – spanning all socio–economic strata – has furthered the cause of globalisation and international commerce like never before. In such a scenario, governments must do more to safeguard consumers from the harmful effects of the technology. In India, the government has lowered the radiation exposure limit of cellphone towers and capped the specific absorption rate (SAR) – amount of radio frequency energy absorbed by the body – of mobile phone handsets. However, these measures do not account for the millions of inexpensive unbranded phones available in the grey market. Also, the norms ought to be backed by regular monitoring to ensure effective implementation. While public safety is the primary responsibility of the government, consumer forums and pressure groups must play their part in forcing mobile companies to strictly adhere to safety norms, including publishing SAR details for handsets. It’s only then that the transformational impact of mobile technology will truly bear fruit.