New Delhi, Aug 31 — Stringent new radiation norms for mobile phone towers and mobile handsets will come into effect Sep 1 across the country, the government announced Friday, keeping in view their possible adverse impact on human health.
“”We have to be careful as a nation. Technology must be embraced but ultimately public health should not be compromised,”” Communications Minister Kapil Sibal told reporters here, unveiling the norms.
A penalty of Rs.5 lakh will be liable to be levied per tower per service provider for non-compliance of EMF standards.
The new EMF limit will be one tenth the existing exposure limit for all mobile phone towers across the country.
“”Indian standards would now be 10 times more stringent than more than 90 percent countries in the world,”” the communications ministry said in a statement.
The norms also say that mobile handsets shall comply with the Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) values of 1.6 W/kg averaged over 1 gram of human tissue. Earlier it was 2W/kg over 10 gram of human tissue.
All cellphone handsets sold in the market in India shall be available in hands-free mode. Existing handsets which do not comply with these norms will co-exist only up to Aug 31, 2013.
From Sep 1, 2012 only the mobile handsets with revised SAR value would be permitted to be manufactured or imported in India.
The ministry issued guidelines for mobile handset owners. It says customers shoul follow basic health rules such as holding the cell phone away from body to the extent possible and using a headset to keep the handset away from your head.
The government said it will set up a test laboratory in the telecom engineering centre (TEC) by this year-end for testing of SAR value of mobile handsets.
The Comptroller and Auditor General in a report tabled in parliament Thursday had slammed the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) for delay in finalising safety standards for cell phones.
–Indian-Asian News Service
Miami Gardens, Florida
Paterson, New Jersey
Hervey Bay, Queensland
Durham, North Carolina
Gladstone Queensland Australia
Taking a major step in the favour of public health, the government has directed the telecom players to follow the new guidelines of radiation, which has come into effect from September 01, 2012 (Saturday).
According to new guidelines, as of now, the EMF (Electromagnetic Frequency) exposure limit (Base Station Emissions) has been lowered to 1/10th of the existing International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) exposure level. It means mobile towers will emit 1/10 times of EMF from Saturday as against earlier.
The higher EMF can cause several deadly diseases like cancer, mutation in human and animals. Viewing the growing network of mobile towers, telecom players and mobile users, the Department of Telecom, Minister of Information and Broadcasting has decided to revise the radiation guidelines.
Besides, mobile towers, now even handsets with higher energy absorption rate can continue to be in use until August 31 of next year. Government has ordered to mobile manufacturing companies to follow the new standard level of Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) which has been set at 1.6 watt per kg.
Mobile manufacturers will also have to display the SAR value on the handset and inform the consumer while selling,’ ordered DoT.
With this new stringent EMF Radiation Standard, India has come up into an elite group that has less EMF Radiation Standard.
DoT has also stated that in case of violation of this norm, a penalty of 5 lakh will be levied per BTS per service provider.
Telecom Enforcement Research & Monitoring cells will be responsible for conducting audit on the self-certification furnished by the service providers.
The following are the highlights of the Standards:
A. Mobile Towers (EMF Radiation Norms)
EMF (Electromagnetic Frequency) exposure limit (Base Station Emissions) has been lowered to 1/10th of the existing ICNIRP exposure level, effective 1st Sept. 2012.
Telecom Enforcement Resource and Monitoring (TERM) Cells have been entrusted with the job of conducting audit on the self certification furnished by the Service Providers. TERM Cell will carry out test audit of 10% of the BTS site on random basis and on all cases where there is a public complaint.
Telecom Engineering Centre (TEC) has revised the Test Procedure for measurement of EMF for verification of EMF compliance for BTS towers in accordance with new standards.
For non-compliance of EMF standards, a penalty of Rs. 5 lakhs is liable to be levied per BTS per Service Provider.
The BTS site details i.e. self-certification, registration with TERM Cell, test results etc. is proposed to be provided on DoT web site for General Public information.
B. Mobile Handsets
All the new design of mobile handsets shall comply with the Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) values of 1.6 W/kg averaged over 1 gram of human tissue w.e.f. 1st Sept. 2012.
The mobile handsets with existing designs which are compliant with 2.0 W/kg averaged over 10 gram of human tissue, will continue to co-exist up to 31st August 2013. From 1st Sept. 2013, only the mobile handsets with revised SAR value of 1.6 W/kg would be permitted to be manufactured or imported in India.
SAR value information display on the mobile handsets like IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity) display. The information on SAR values to be made available to the consumer at the point of sale.
Mobile handset manufactured and sold in India or imported from other countries shall be checked on random basis for compliance of SAR limit after TEC SAR Laboratory is set up by end of 2012. Test results from international accredited labs will be acceptable in the interim period.
The manufacturers in India will provide self-declaration of SAR value of the handset.
Suitable amendments in the Indian Telegraph Rule under Indian Telegraph Act 1985 are being enacted in support of ensuring compliance of new SAR values for handsets.
Manufacturer’s mobile handset booklet will contain safety precautions.
All cell phone handsets sold in the market in India will comply with relevant standards and shall be available in hand free mode.
C. SAR Test Laboratory:
SAR Test Laboratory is being set up in Telecom Engineering Centre for testing of SAR value of mobile handsets imported/ manufactured in India. New National SAR Standards from Telecom Engineering Centre.
National SAR standards from Telecom Engineering Centre are being finalized.
DoT is procuring EMF radiation measuring instruments for TERM cell units.
Outsourcing for EMF radiation measurement for BTS towers is also being considered.
Expert Group Study:
A scientific study in India-specific context is being undertaken jointly by Dept. of Telecom and Dept. of Science and Technology in collaboration with ICMR, MOEF and Min of Science and Technology to derive norms based on credible scientific evidence taking into account diversity of Indian social context.
F. Guidelines to State Government
Department of Telecommunication has released Guidelines covering BTS Towers so that some consistency gets evolved on setting up of BTS towers. Guidelines have been placed on DoT website.
G. Guidelines for Consumers
Guidelines for consumers on Mobile handset usage have been issued and hosted on DoT Web site (http://www.gov.dot.in) for general public awareness. Some of them are: keep distance – hold the cell phone away from body to the extent possible, use a headset (wired or Bluetooth) to keep the handset away from your head, do not press the phone handset against your head. Radio Frequency (RF) energy is inversely proportional to the square of the distance from the source-being very close increases energy absorption much more, limit the length of mobile calls, use text as compared to voice wherever possible, put the cell phone on speaker mode, when your phone is on, don’t carry it in chest/breast or pants pocket, when a mobile phone is on, it automatically transmits at high power every one or two minutes to check (poll) the network. . A booklet addressing possible queries from mobile telecom users on radiation-related issues along with other informative inputs is also being placed on DoT website.
H. TEC Test Procedures Document for Service Providers and Term Cell Units
TEC has revised the Test Procedure for measurement of EMF elaborating the methodology, calculations, measurements and report formats for verification of EMF compliance for BTS towers in accordance with new standards effective from 1st Sept. 2012. This will be applicable for all Mobile Service Providers and Term Cell Units to verify compliance.
Department of Telecommunications, Ministry of Communications and IT has ensured that the new EMF Radiation standards get implemented through close co-ordination with the industry. The guidelines underline the Government’s efforts at providing the best possible Telecom services across the country without compromising on public safety and human health.
Saudi Arabia, Riyadh,
Knoxville Tennessee USA
Adelaide, South Australia
The Ministry of Environment and Forests has commissioned a study on the impact of radiation from cellular phone towers on the avian population, Union Minister of Environment Jayanthi Natarajan said here on Friday.
Addressing reporters on the sidelines of the sixth edition of ‘Beacon 2012,’ a meet on business ethics hosted by the Loyola Institute of Business Administration, Ms. Natarajan said that the report of the study, commissioned a couple of days ago, would be submitted in three months.
The study was commissioned against the backdrop of a previous study finding that the electromagnetic radiation from these communication towers affected bees very badly and reports of adverse effect on scavenger birds in certain parts of Orissa, the Minister said.
“We’re now worried that the radiation on a particular wavelength will have a deleterious effect on the avian population. This is what prompted the study.”
The Ministry would write to the Telecom Ministry suggesting a mechanism, a task force, perhaps – to monitor radiation from mobile towers, the Minister said.
On the controversy over Dow Chemicals being a sponsor at the London Olympics, Ms. Natarajan said: “I strongly feel as an Indian that somebody who has been responsible for such a tremendous environmental disaster in this country should not be sponsoring the Olympics.”
Earlier, addressing the LIBA meet, Ms. Natarajan urged the business fraternity to adopt a Corporate Social and Environmental Responsibility in place of the CSR and said the Ministry was moving towards a system of self-regulation and self-monitoring.
While hailing the Indian corporate sector for being supportive of environment protection, Ms. Natarajan said there was much more to be done apart from adopting the path of self-regulation.
The Ministry proposed to introduce 24/7 pollution monitoring by industries and posting outcomes on the website to provide a greater degree of transparency and also push for stiffer penalties on violators of environment laws.
Reiterating the Indian position on climate change, Ms. Natarajan categorically stated that a green economy could not be equated with green protectionism, and countries that polluted the environment for the last 150 years had to pay for it while India’s right to grow and develop could never be bartered away.
The biggest gain from the Durban climate change summit apart from the extension of the Kyoto Protocol – still the only rules-based international instrument that made it binding on some developed countries to undertake emission cuts and emission reductions in accordance with the principle of common but differentiated responsibility – was that “the Durban Platform was concluded under the United Nations Convention on Climate Change and the convention makes it absolutely clear and applicable to all parties that equity is at the heart of any action and any agreement on climate change.”
Citing a Stockholm Institute study to press the case that the US and other Western nations “continued to cause pollution,” despite their commitments, Ms. Natarajan said India was, on the contrary, doing a great deal through its National Action Plan on Climate Change. “We have voluntarily offered internationally that by 2020, we will reduce the intensity of our energy emissions by 20-25 per cent.”
Cape Verde, Praia
Canada, Ottawa, Ontario,
Gold Coast, Queensland
Santa Rosa California USA
Mobile phones are potentially detrimental to our health. Not only do we spend countless hours twiddling our thumbs on touchscreens and squinting at ever-too-small text in the middle of the night, but we’re also subject to potentially harmful radiation. This is why legislators are trying to enact a law that will require manufacturers to place warning labels on mobile phones, and which will create a national research program that will look into health issues concerning mobile phones.
H.R. 6358, or the proposed Cell Phone Right to Know Act, will also require the Environmental Protection Agency to update the current mobile radiation standards. The current maximum for SAR — or specific absorption rate, the metric used to measure mobile phone radiation — is deemed too conservative. This then limits device manufacturers and equipment suppliers in terms of the design, power and service levels they can offer.
A federal report by the Government Accountability Office says that SAR limits will need to be revisited, which should ensure “proper balance between protecting the public from exposure to potentially harmful RF energy and allowing industry to provide telecommunications services to the public in the most efficient and practical manner possible.”
The proposed law, introduced by Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), will also require device manufacturers to add warning labels on devices — somewhat like the labels found on cigarette packaging. The existing rules on SAR and labeling are quite dated, and are based on research dating back to 1991. Back then, of course, mobile devices were designed differently, and networks used different mobile standards (AMPS, anyone?). With the fast pace of network development and with the increased data throughput that networks can support, perhaps radiation standards need a revisiting.
The basic precept of the bill is information. “As long as cell phone users may be at increased risk of cancer or reproductive problems, Americans must have the right to know the radiation levels of cell phones,” says Kucinich.
Of course, there are arguments against the harmful effects of cellphone radiation. After all, even our microwave ovens and CRT screens give off more radiation than mobile devices. And then there’s the non-concentric design of mobile antennas, which are designed to radiate the signal in an expanded, rather than focused, manner.
While the issue on radiation is still being debated, the kind Congressman says labels will help consumers choose mobile phones based on their radiation levels — sort of like choosing a car based on emission standards and mileage. “While we wait for scientists to sort out the health effects of cell phone radiation, we must allow consumers to have enough information to choose a phone with less radiation,” Kucinich said.
Whyalla, South Australia
Chattanooga Tennessee USA
Darwin, Northern Territory
Electromagnetic Radiation (EMR) is the generated byproduct of electricity traveling through electronic devices. Electronic devices develop a field of radiation or, an Electromagnetic Field (EMF) that is strongest when closest to the source and reduces in intensity when moving away from the source. Increasing the current within the source will directly increase the strength of the field.
Industry experts recommend that exposure to these fields should be less than 2 milliGauss (mG), the measurement of EMFs. For devices such as laptops, these levels can reach up to 175 mG, when processing and computing.
EMF radiation can be dangerous because it can often change field direction, creating a vibration within the tissues of the body.
EMF Vibration Impacts
A vibrating Electromagnetic Field (EMF) touching the body generates heat and cell mutation. In fact, this phenomenon works the same way as a microwave by vibrating molecules together and generating enough heat to cook food. Long term exposure to EMF vibrations can lead to serious health concerns.
With increased temperatures, both male and female fertility can be affected. Studies over the past 20 years show that long-term exposure to high levels of EMFs can mutate cells, burn skin, cause DNA cellular breakdown and many other health problems including cancer.
Most EMFs are fields that vibrate the human body’s cells. This vibration can not only cause heating up of cells, but also manipulate the cells in other dangerous ways.
Tallahassee Florida USA
Solomon Islands, Honiara
City of Gosford, Australia
Solomon Islands, Honiara,
Equatorial Guinea Malabo
The medical journal Fertility and Sterility recently published a laptop radiation report on Argentinian scientists studying the relationship between laptop radiation, WiFi and human male sperm.
In their study, semen samples from 29 healthy men were placed under a laptop connected to an active internet session via WiFi.
Testing was conducted over a four hour period and produced the following results:
25% of the semen was no longer active compared to 14% from semen samples stored at the same temperature over the same time period and away from the computer.
9% of the sperm showed DNA damage, 3x the damage experienced by the comparison samples.
Based on the testing, these scientists concluded that WiFi or Radio Frequency (RF) radiation can be unhealthy to the human body.
Laptop Computers and WiFi Fertility Study Results
Conrado Avendano of Nascentis Medicina Reproductiva in Cordoba and his colleagues say “Our data suggest that the use of a laptop computer wirelessly connected to the internet and positioned near the male reproductive organs may decrease human sperm quality.” They go on further to say, “At present we do not know whether this effect is induced by all laptop computers connected by Wi-Fi to the internet or what use conditions heighten this effect.”
The Laptop Radiation WiFi Sperm Controversy
In previous studies, there was confirming evidence found. In a Reuters Health report November 5, 2010, a study revealed that radiation from cell phones creates feeble sperm in the lab. A urologist noted that a laptop balanced on his knees could crank up scrotum temperatures to unsafe levels. These were reports on higher frequency, Electromagnetic Radiation (EMR), Radio Frequency (RF) radiation similar to those by Conrado Avendano.
On the other hand, Dr. Robert Oates, president of the Society for Male Reproduction and Urology doesn’t believe laptops are a significant threat to male reproductive health. Referring to the Argentinian study he says, “This is not real-life biology, this is a completely artificial setting,” He goes on further to say, “It is scientifically interesting, but to me it doesn’t have any human biological relevance.” In fact, he says he has not seen any study to connect laptop radiation as influential on fertility or pregnancy outcomes.
There is still controversy on our understanding of Radio Frequency (RF) radiation being so close to our bodies. However, recent evidence continues to point to the danger of laptop use directly in our laps. Extremely powerful technologies such as those found in laptops, iPads and other electronic devices are now being used very close to our bodies. With time, RF radiating devices devices will be better understood. In the meantime, take precautions to protect yourself from the health dangers of laptop radiation.
The Hague Netherlands
Paterson New Jersey USA
Hamilton Victoria Australia
Nauru Republic of Nauru, Yaren District
Our environment poses heath threats from the very things that are supposed to make our lives easier. Electronic devices like laptop computers, cell phones, WiFi networks, microwave ovens, and even the power used by the wires in our walls and ceilings are so important in modern lives, yet their Electromagnetic Field (EMF) emissions can be harmful.
There is no consensus understanding about the human impact from our electronic devices. There are however experts on the subject. Dr. Neil Cherry was a leading researcher on EMF science before passing away in 2003. He challenged us to take responsibility for our health and better understand Electromagnetic Radiation (EMR). The following were few of his thoughts.
Electromagnetic Radiation (EMR) Effects on the Body
Electromagnetic Radiation (EMR) has become a growing concern over the past 50 years because we have electronic devices that emit radiation getting closer and closer to our bodies. The scientific community knows that heath concerns are partly genetic, but also environmental. We know that food, water and air introduce toxins to the body, but we are now beginning to understand through growing evidence that Electromagnetic Radiation (EMR) damages cells and can even cause cancer.
Dr. Neal Cherry investigated data on cell damage in controlled, repeatable laboratory studies. He pointed out that in one study, human breast cells exposed to Electromagnetic Radiation (EMR) were affected. This exposure totally eliminated the effectiveness of melatonin, used to help us sleep. Exposure also caused long-term DNA damage and impaired body cells. The link between Electromagnetic Radiation with power lines and appliances was established as well, and the impact was a reduction of melatonin cleaning-up effect on human breast cancer cells.
Other studies showed people who work with Electromagnetic Fields are more likely to get breast cancer than those less exposed. Dr. Cherry noted a statistically significant increase in breast cancer among the people exposed.
The National Cancer Institute studied people exposed to work related microwaves. They concluded that there was a tenfold increase in brain tumors among those working 20 years or more. Dr. Cherry points out that the destructive source was Electromagnetic Radiation (EMR).
The University of Washington conducted research on microwave Electromagnetic Radiation (EMR) impact on the brains of rats. The research showed breaks in the DNA associated with increased free radicals and increased cell deaths. This study emulates levels of exposure when using a cell phone against your head.
Dr. Cherry investigated other studies such as the one at the US Embassy in Moscow where the effect of radar signals, or Electromagnetic Radiation, on people was evaluated. The study demonstrated that there were changes in the blood and an increase in cancer from the radiation.
The Hague, Netherlands,
Codrington (capital of Barbuda)
Invasion! Columns of lanky, metallic and freakishly tall cellphone antennae are marching into the city. And we are soon going to be surrounded by towers that spew electromagnetic radiations at us.
With the Centre ordering cellphone operators to down-ladder the radiation limits of each tower, the operators are forced to put up more towers to make up for the loss of range. Starting September, the radiation limit of cellphone towers will be tuned down from 9.2 w/m2 (watt per square metre) to 0.92 w/m2, and it sounds good.
But what is bad is that the range of a tower will dip from an average of 1km. And cellular operators have begun hunting for sites to install towers to keep reception crisp. In short, the city’s skyline will be littered with unaesthetic towers – double the number (4,000) presently in the city. The decision to lower the level of radiation comes after an inter-ministerial panel formed by the ministry of communications and information technology studied on the hazards of electromagnetic field radiations from base stations and mobile phones.
Data shows that India’s current radiation exposure limit (9.2 watt/m2) for mobile towers is higher than in countries like Russia (0.2 w/m2) and China (0.4 w/m2). However, in the US, Canada and Japan the radiation limit is much higher (12 w/m2).
But the benefits earned by slashing the radiation level are squandered by allowing the spawning of towers. Director general of Cellular Operators Association of India Rajan S Mathews said the new policy would only help in increasing the level of radiation. “”There are nearly 4.5 lakh towers across the country. Some of the mobile towers are also being shared by various telecom companies. We will no longer be able to share the towers as we have to keep the frequency low.”” In short, for each his own. Rajan said: “”There will be more towers in residential areas. Otherwise it’ll affect 3G and broadband services.””
Cellular companies spend nearly 25 lakh for setting up a tower. More towers mean a slash on the profits. “”We pay a rent of nearly Rs 10,000 -50,000 per month. If we are forced to cut the radiation limits, then we have to put up towers,”” said a senior official of a private cellular company. When one section of residents sees potential revenue from a tower, another sees it as an hazard. But the jingle of money wins over the din for safety. In Chennai, when companies want to put up a tower, they send crews who identify feasible sites and approach property owners with offers.
The government plays no role in sanctioning the towers or ensuring safety. The corporation itself isn’t aware of the number of towers in its backyard. An apartment resident in Velachery said: “”We have installed three mobile towers on top of our buildings. We use the rent from the cellphone towers for building upkeep.”” He is least worried about the impact of radiation on health. “”There are several towers surrounding us. If we don’t allow one above our apartment, somebody else will.””
El Salvador, San Salvador
St. Petersburg Florida USA
Venezuela Caracas Iceland Reykjavik
Flipping open a small jade-green box, Pranav Poddar unveils a shiny maroon-coloured object the size of a sim card. This is the enviro chip that changes the constant nature of radiation, harmful for the human body, to a random one, which is safer, he says as he carefully fixes the glistening device slightly above the centre of the back panel of a mobile phone. The position where you fix it is important, as its efficacy at controlling the mobile phones radiation depends a lot on its location, adds the director of the Delhi-based Synergy Environics, which provides solutions for electromagnetic radiations emitted from mobiles, computers and cell phone towers.
As concerns about the harmful health effects of radiation increase, especially from cell phone towers, a number of companies are offering anti-radiation devices which they claim can mitigate the hazards. Environics solutions, for instance, include, besides chips for mobiles, laptops and computers, customized strips for placing around cell phone towers. A similar protection against radiation from towers is offered by Mumbai-based NESA Radiation Solutions. Among the products in its portfolio are radiation detectors as well as shielding films and curtains which can be put inside buildings close to towers. The electronic components in the shielding films can convert microwave energy into heat energy and then dissipate it. They have been found to have 90-95 % effectiveness, says the companys director, Neha Kumar.
Another range of products offered by Delhi-based Green8 India includes cellular foils manufactured in Germany that can be put underneath the mobile phones battery to reduce radiation. The companys solution for tower radiation is a transformer, labeled PST 28, which Suneel Sardana, the firms CMD, says neutralizes radiation and creates a protective zone within a radius of up to 33 metres.
But despite the proliferation of these devices, their acceptability among consumers is still quite low.According to K Kanan of Chennai-based Portoworld that markets an antiradiation chip called Radisafe, a major reason for slow sales in India is because the effects of radiation are not immediately visible and people are not bothered about it too much. We have scant respect for health in our country, unlike the West where diseases arising from radiation are a major concern. In fact, sales of our products are high in the US, Europe and even countries like the West Indies and Mozambique. However, it is just a few thousand units in India which, ironically, has a mobile phone subscriber base of nearly 90 crore.
Cell phone companies though, not surprisingly, brush aside the efficacy of these products and even the need for them, saying there is no conclusive evidence to prove that emissions from mobile towers cause health hazards. The government has adopted and implemented the ICNIRP (International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection Board) standards for the telecom sector in the country which is considered to be one of the best in the world and has been adopted by over 90% of nations. It ensures abundant precautionary limits for exposure from base stations and phones. So there is no question of any instrument, device or product being necessary for protecting consumers from such emissions. They are simply a waste of money, says Rajan S Mathews, director general of the Cellular Operators Association of India.
Anti-radiation product proponents say they expect this reaction from a very strong cell phone lobby in the country. Acknowledging that these products are working is tantamount to the mobile companies admitting that their own phones and transmission towers are emitting harmful radiation in the first place, which they will never do, says Sardana.
But the fact remains that the lack of effective standards for rating these devices is a stark, gaping hole in their claims. N K Goyal, president of the Communications and Manufacturing Association of India, says the field remains somewhat of a grey area. There are many products which are available in the market now.In the absence of certification from a credible agency like, say, the Bureau of Indian Standards, it is very difficult to find out which is good and which is bad. Also, not much indigenous research has been done on anti-radiation devices in the country. Poddar of Synergy Environics says they have been studying the subject on their own for the past few years and have recently carried out medical tests in association with Delhis Max Hospital, which showed encouraging results. We would also like to test our products on a larger scale with an established protocol and cooperation from the telecom industry, says Poddar. However, a few of the mobile tower manufacturers we have approached say they can allow radiation protection devices on their towers only if there is a legislation from the government to do so. The main issue, undoubtedly, is of awareness among more people. Once awareness increases, we are sure the demand for these products will be in the form of a huge tidal wave.
Ethiopia, Addis Ababa,
Beaumont Texas USA
City of Botany Bay, Australia