SCIENCE: Cell tower radiation increases risk of brain cancer

Saturday, 20 September 2014 – 6:40am IST | Agency: DN



Busting the myths about lack of evidence on harm caused by cellphone radiation, Finnish scientist Dariusz Leszczynski on Friday said that long-term exposure to cellphone and cell tower radiation, on an average of thirty minutes a day over ten years, causes an increased risk of brain cancer.

Cellphone radiation increases risk of cancer?
“The Interfone, Hardell and the recently concluded CERENAT studies in France have all pointed towards a common risk to increased brain cancer,” said Leszczynski, adjunct professor, biochemistry, University of Helsinki. Leszczynski is one of the members of the expert committee constituted by World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). WHO has classified electromagnetic frequency radiation emitted by cellphone, cell towers and wi-fi as category 2(B) or possibly carcinogenic.

What are the associated health risks?
Apart from brain cancer, three definitive studies showed that exposure of radiation to the skin and brain caused changes in cell structure. “Changes were induced in skin cells and metabolism of glucose in the brain was affected.” It is also known to cause hearing loss, infertility, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOD) in women.

Repercussions of impending 4G towers?
There are 15 lakh mobile towers in India. Most of them are in dense clusters and in non-uniform distances. Experts have raised concerns over the upcoming 4G towers. “Each tower has close to four or more antennae attached to it. Each antennae will transmit at least forty watts of power which is extremely high. At the moment, 2G towers emit close to 20 watts of power. More transmission in 4G towers may cause compliance issues,” said Professor Girish Kumar, department of electrical engineering, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT). “Across Europe, power transmission of antennae is not more than 1-5 watts. Higher the power transmission, more amplified is the range of frequency of mobile tower.”

Cellphone operators often increase power transmission in fewer towers to save costs of building more towers at uniform distances. “India needs 15 lakh more towers, but that would lead to incurring of Rs30,000 crore for cellphone companies. So, they are increasing power transmission which is harmful to human health,” added Kumar.

How can the problem of call drops be tackled?
Experts have proposed that cell tower operators build more towers with lesser power transmission. It is proposed that if the call costs are increased by five paise per minute by operators, which is multiplied by 365 days and 90 crore users that talk on the phone on an average for 18 minutes a day, operators can recover Rs30,000 crore from users in two years. “This corpus can be used for regulation of power transmission and uniform construction of towers at shorter distances. This will also solve problems of call drops,” Kumar explained.

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