Need to evolve alternative means to deploy telecom network based on global practices: report

Expressing serious concern over high-level of electromagnetic radiation from mobile towers and handsets, a high-level inter-ministerial committee has called for revision of radiation norms to suit to Indian conditions and environment. The committee has called for imposing strict restrictions on installation of mobile towers near high-density residential areas, schools, playgrounds and hospitals.

“The hot tropical climate of the country [India], low body mass index [BMI], low fat content of an average Indian as compared to European countries and high environmental concentration of radio frequency radiation may place Indians under high risk of radio frequency radiation effect and the level of susceptibility of an average Indian may be different. Hence, revision of radiation norms may be considered for adoption in India keeping in view the possible health concern,” said the committee report.

Low-power cellular base station

Stating that the radio frequency exposure limits in India may be lowered to 1/10th of the existing level, the report said: “There is a need to evolve the alternative means to deploy mobile telecom network based on best international practices. Low-power cellular base station would require a much smaller exclusion zone than existing cells and use of such transmitters inside cities will decrease the amount of radiated power.”

“For the future expansion of telecom network in the country use low-power micro cell transmitters with in-built solutions in place of the present trend of using high-power transmission over mobile towers or high-rise buildings,” it said. The report has also recommended the use of hands-free and ear phone technologies such as Bluetooth handsets and ear phone so as to minimise the contact of head with mobile phone.

On the issue of radiation from handsets, the committee said the standards adopted in the U.S. are most stringent which is prescribed by the Federal Communication Commission.

“No scientific evidence”

“WHO reported that considering the very low exposure levels and research results collected, there is no convincing scientific evidence that the weak radio frequency signals from cellular phone towers and wireless networks cause adverse health effects,” the committee report said.

“However, a number of studies have reported the link between exposure to radio frequency radiation and occurrence of health disorder i.e. effect on cell growth, cell differentiation, DNA, immune system, hormonal effects, reproduction, neurological, cardiovascular systems, blood brain barrier, interference with gadgets, stress proteins, skin, sleep disorder, etc.,” it added.

India currently follows World Health Organisation (WHO)-approved International Commission on Non-ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) guidelines. But there are countries such as Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland, Russia, Italy, Poland, China and Belgium that have adopted even stricter guidelines.

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