Twenty–five professors and researchers mainly from the IITs working in the field of telecommunications have written an open letter to the Centre, stating that the country’s cellphone tower radiation norms are among the safest in the world and there is no reason to change them.
But doctors and social activists say that cell tower radiation causes a range of health problems, from headache to memory loss to cancer, and demand stringent monitoring of radiation levels.
In their letter to the Union ministry of communications and information technology, headed by Kapil Sibal, the professors have urged the government to avoid making ad–hoc decisions on restricting cell tower locations–so long as these meet existing guidelines––to avoid creating panic among people. The letter says there is "no further knowledge available" to warrant a change in cell tower safety recommendations.
The professors–drawn from IIT Bombay, Hyderabad, Madras, Delhi, Mandi and Kanpur, and IISc, Bangalore–discussed the issue internally before putting down their views on paper. All have worked in telecom research for 5–35 years
But Dr Ashish Mehta, a spinal and neurological surgeon with Breach Candy and Saifee hospitals, said, "Everyday gadgets give transitory stimulus. For instance, one does not stand before a microwave for 24 hours a day, so cells get a chance to repair themselves. It is when electromagnetic radiation is allowed to continuously bombard a cell that there is a problem. Cellphones have revolutionized the communication paradigm; though cells have an automatic repair system, when there is a disparity between damage and repair, it becomes hazardous."
Manoj Londhe, a member of the Mobile Tower Grievances Forum, said, "International studies show that cell tower radiations may not only be capable of causing cancer, but also cause neurotic disorders like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. Most of all, prolonged exposure to radiation may cause DNA mutations and thus are most dangerous to foetuses."
MOBILE RADIATION’S EFFECT ON HUMANS IIT PROFESSORS
- Emissions from cell towers and cellphones are non–ionising electromagnetic radiations
- Unlike ionising radiation such as X and gamma rays, non–ionising radiation cannot break chemical bonds in human body cells and so cannot cause cancer through mutation
- As for an increase in body heat due to radiation absorption, blood circulation in the brain is capable of disposing of excess heat through increased local flow
- No further knowledge is available to warrant a change in safety recommendations for cellphone emissions
- The International Commission on Non–Ionising Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) has set safety limits that are sufficient to protect everyone from children to adults
- ICNIRP limits are recommended by the WHO and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU)
- Cell tower radiation limits adopted by the government are a tenth of the ICNIRP recommendations, which makes India one of the safest countries
- Cell tower radiation is believed to trigger various cancers
- Affects melatonin levels, increasing the risk of cancer; melatonin is a powerful antioxidant
- Increases the risk of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases; radiation damages the blood–brain barrier, harming brain cells
- Is believed to cause DNA damage and mutation
- Leads to impotency
- Increases fatigue, sleeplessness and restlessness
- Causes skin diseases
IIT PROFESSORS’ RECOMMENDATION
- The government should carefully avoid temporary restrictions on cell tower locations, so long as they meet guidelines, to avoid causing panic among people
- The government should create a database of studies on the health implications of cell tower radiation and make it accessible to the public
Times of India
23 Sep 2013, Mumbai