Dr.Abdul Razzak Shaikh
Are the radio-frequency waves emitted from cell phone towers killing us slowly?
Being exposed to a mobile tower located within 50-meters is like being in a microwave oven for 24-hours, says expert and carries the same cancer risk as living surrounded by lead, DDT, Chloroform and petrol exhaust.
Harmful effects of radiation emitted by telecom towers have been a topic of debate for many years now. A lot has been written by proponents of both sides but the general public is still unaware and undecided about the matter. In the currents times when the overflow of information has left people confused and exasperated, it is very difficult to believe what is right and what is wrong. The on-going discussion of harmful effects of telecom tower is one such issue that is confusing people for many years now. Many health risks have been associated with the telecom tower radiations like Irreversible infertility, DNA damage, Effects on Stress Proteins, Tinnitus and Ear Damage, Uveal Melanoma, Melatonin Reduction, Sleep Disorder, Salivary gland tumor, Cancer Risk etc. Considering the menaces that are associated with cell towers, it seems that radiation emitted by these towers is even more dangerous than the one emitted by nuclear energy.
The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) says radiation from cell phone handsets and towers is possibly carcinogenic to humans and may cause glioma, a type of brain cancer. Towers are more dangerous than handsets because they emit greater-intensity radiation.
The area of concern is base-stations and their antennas, which provide the link to and from cell phones. This is because, in contrast to handsets, it (Radio frequency) is emitted continuously and is more powerful at close quarters.At very high levels, RF energy is dangerous. It can heat the body’s tissues rapidly. However, such high levels are found only near certain equipment, such as powerful long-distance transmitters. Cell phones and wireless network produce RF, but not at the level that causes significant heating. In addition, RF energy decreases quickly over distance. At ground level, exposure to RF from sources like cell phone towers is usually very low.
Despite that, the response from government is predictable. There is no scientific study to prove that anyone has got any health problem due to telecom towers.
After 20 minutes of using cell phones, you feel a warm sensation near the ear.
This is because the temperature of the earlobes increases by one degree Celsius. A maximum of 6 minutes of cell phone usage is recommended during the day since a cell phone transmits 1 to 2 watts of power, which are very high and dangerous.
The World Health Organization (WHO)’s INTERPHONE study in 2000 done over 10 years in 13 countries showed that heavy cell phone users (1 to 2 hours a day) have a risk of glioma (brain or spine tumor). This risk is 55% for those using it over 10 years.
They found 5,117 brain tumor cases in the study.Several studies were done in various countries — such as Germany, Austria, Brazil, Israel, etc — have reported the increase in cancer cases in 5 to 10 years, where radiation level was more than 1 mW/m2.
Cancer is the last stage and before that, people living close to mobile phone towers have reported sleep disturbances, headaches, memory loss, lack of concentration, fatigue, joint pains, vision distortion, miscarriage, heart problems, etc. Also, these safety standards are based on 6 minutes per day exposure, without accounting for people who live close to cell towers 24/7. The norms allow EMF of 4,500 MW/m2. A survey was conducted by PTA along with Frequency Allocation Board (FAB) in seven major cities of the country including Azad Jammu & Kashmir (AJK) to check the omission of power level from transmitters and receivers of Base Transceiver Stations (BTSs)/Towers installed by mobile companies.
The results revealed that power level of radio waves of all BTSs surveyed is much below the prescribed danger limits and in line with the policy directives of Ministry of IT & Telecom, World Health Organization (WHO) and International Commission on Non- Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) guidelines.
Since 2009 four nationwide surveys have been conducted to remove the misconceptions regarding hazardous effects of towers. It has been revealed that the towers have been installed and are working within the specified parameters defined by the regulator as well as the international bodies concerning the issue.PTA says that the good news is that these towers will not affect the wellbeing of people and the environment in any way.
How can exposure be reduced? I would recommend that the amplification of power in the cell towers be reduced by removing the power amplifier or by reducing the gain of the antenna. By reducing the power, coverage area will be reduced, which can be taken care of by using more cell towers or repeaters or in-building solutions. The height of the towers should be increased. All towers in close proximity to schools and hospitals should be checked and removed, if too close.
Only proper rules and regulations set up by the civic bodies and Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) can make safer our lives and survey be continued.
Dr.Abdul Razzak Shaikh