Cell tower radiation is under govt limit: Survey
But Experts Say That Even Permissible Level Is Too High
Yogita Rao | TNN
Experts are conflicted over the health hazards and the permissible limit of cell phone tower radiation, and the findings of a survey in Mumbai may only fuel the debate. Conducted jointly by Indian Institute of Technology-Madras and Thiagarajar College of Engineering in Madurai, the survey reveals that radiation from cell phone towers at 96 locations in Mumbai are several times below the maximum permissible global standard limit. The survey, which was commissioned by the Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), comes at a time when the Indian government is set to enforce stricter limitations.
India has adopted the permissible limit prescribed by the International Commission of Non-Ionising Radiation Protection (ICNRP), which is set at 4,500 milli-Watt per sq m (mW/sq m), but the government is expected to reduce the limit to 450 mW/sq m by the end of the month.
The COAI presented the findings in a workshop conducted by Professor Girish Kumar from IIT-Bombay’s electrical engineering department. The readings, which were taken at several locations in the city, showed that the radiation level will be below the permissible limit even with the new standard.
Of the 96 locations surveyed, Nehru Science Centre in Worli was 20 times below the ICNRP limit. At Kala Nagar junction in Bandra, the readings were 17 times below the limit. Representatives from COAI, telecom operators, doctors, and even patients believed to have been affected by cell phone tower radiation were present at the workshop. Not everyone agreed with the survey’s results.
Professor Kumar, who extensively researched on cell phone radiation, pointed out that the study does not discuss health hazards associated with mobile phone tower radiation. “The radiation emitted by cell phone towers is mostly between 100-500 mW/sq m. As per the current standard of 4,500 mW/sq m, the readings are bound to be below the permissible limits. According to a recent report, however, from the health point of view only a 1 mW/sq m emission is safe.” He added that the number of cell phone towers in the country has increased from 1 lakh five years ago to 4.5 lakh in 2011. “A stricter limit should be enforced. It should have been brought down to one hundredth or one thousandth of 4,500 mW/ sq m.”
Kandivli resident Sunil Kapoor, who was present at the workshop, talked about his five-year-old daughter who had developed a brain tumour and died in August this year.
Kapoor believes that it was the radiation from a nearby cell-phone tower that killed his daughter, even though no study has been able to prove this link. “Our society had allowed companies to set up base stations in our building in April 2009. A year later my daughter developed a squint in her eye. When we went for a check up we found that she had cancer. It is very difficult to establish the cause of the cancer, but our society got rid of the cell towers immediately,” said Kapoor.
According to Kumar, most societies agree to set up the towers as cell phone companies pay a “high rental of Rs 60,000-Rs 1 lakh per month”.
To reduce the risk Kumar suggested that companies could set up more towers that are spread out across the city, thereby reducing the concentration of radiation emissions in an area.
INTERNATIONAL EXPOSURE LIMITS
India has adopted the permissible limit of cell-tower radiation set by the International Commission for Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection, ICNRP which stands at 4,500 milli-watts
per sq m (mW/sq m). But many countries including Russia and China have reduced the limit
NEW STANDARD FOR INDIA
By the end of November, the Indian government is expected to announce a new guideline, which will bring down the permissible limit to 450 mW/sq m
Industry experts say that the number of cell phone towers in Mumbai has increased by 350% in five years STUDY’S FINDINGS
The study conducted by IITMadras and Thiagarajar College, Madurai, found that cell phone tower radiation at 96 locations in Mumbai was within the permissible level of 4,500 mW/sq m
AREA | RADIATION LEVEL
In front of Nehru Science Centre | 20 times lower In Phoenix Mills | 114 times lower Kala Nagar, Bandra | 17 times lower Oberoi Mall | 64 times lower J J Flyover | 29 times lower