A recent study by the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology delving into of the effect of cell phone use on health has raised old concerns about the possible side effects from radio frequencies and the long-term safety of using wireless technology.
According to experts, the constant exposure to the electronic radiation [use of high-energy radiation from x-rays, neutrons, and other sources to kill cancer cells and shrink tumors] that flows from the cell phones and towers into our homes, workplaces, and public spaces is the reason people find themselves battling unexplained ailments, from intense headaches to circulatory problems, and severe fatigue.
The report stated, “People who are chronically exposed to low-level wireless antenna emissions and users of mobile handsets have reported feeling several unspecific symptoms during and after its use, ranging from burning and tingling sensation in the skin of the head, fatigue, sleep disturbances, dizziness, lack of concentration, ringing in the ears, reaction time, loss of memory, headache, disturbance in digestive system and heart palpitation [sensation of rapid heartbeats] .”
The eight-member panel, comprising members from the Health Ministry, Department of Biotechnology and Member Secretary, DoT, also implicated the mobile phone radiations in the disappearance of butterflies, bees, insects and sparrows from big cities.
Some recommendations by the committee
The committee has recommended a ban for mobile phones that do not adhere to standard levels of specific absorption rate (SAR).
SAR refers to the amount of energy radiation that is absorbed by the body while using a phone.
Also, it is imperative that mobile towers should not be installed in close proximity of high density residential areas, schools, playgrounds, and hospitals.
A member of the panel stated, “The localized SAR value as per the Indian guidelines standard is 2 watt per kg, averaged over a six minute period and using a 10 gram average mass.
With higher SAR values of mobile handsets the public could potentially receive much higher radio frequency exposure. We have recommended that SAR levels to be lowered down to 1.6 watt/kg, as prescribed by the Federal Communication Commission of US.”
Kids more prone to the harmful effects of radiation
The report cautions children, adolescents and pregnant women against the excessive use of mobiles and advise the use of hands-free technology to cut physical contact with the body and the device.
Dr. R S Sharma, ICMR scientist, a representative of the health ministry on the committee stated, “People having active medical implants should keep their cellphone at least 30 cm away from the implant.”
According to the researchers, children are more prone to the harmful effects of radiation because their brains and nervous systems are still developing.
In addition, their heads are smaller and skulls are thinner, making it easier for radiation to penetrate their brains.
Girish Kumar, a professor in the Dept of Electrical Engineering at IIT Bombay stated, “There is a 400% increase in the risk of brain cancer [abnormal cells that divide without control, which can invade nearby tissues or spread through the bloodstream and lymphatic system to other parts of the body. ] among teenagers using cell phones for long periods.
The younger the child, the deeper is the penetration of electromagnetic radiation as children’s skulls are thinner.
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