Taking a stringent view of the health hazards posed by radiation from mobile phones, towers and base stations, a high-level inter-ministerial committee (IMC) has called for revision of radiation norms according to Indian needs.
According to the report submitted by the IMC, radiation from mobile phones and towers could lead to symptoms like fatigue, sleep disturbance, dizziness and lack of concentration.
It said it could also lead to slowing down of reaction time, loss of memory, headache, disturbance in digestive system and heart palpitation.
As a sequel, the committee has called for imposing strict restrictions on installation of mobile towers near high-density residential areas, schools, playgrounds and hospitals.
Though the impact of long term exposure to such emissions is unclear, the panel suggested conducting scientific research on its effect, especially among children, pregnant women and elderly persons.
Following reports that electromagnetic radiation emitted by the mobile towers were threating the movement and breeding of bees and birds (which are the best indicators of the status of the ecology), the government had set up a panel to study the impact and formulate guidelines for regulating installation of such structures.
The report suggested that since the Indian weather conditions were different compared to European countries, revision of radiation norms may be considered.
“The radiation limits in India may be lowered to 1/10th of the existing level keeping in view the data submitted by COAI/ AUSPI,” it added.
The report suggested methods like use of wireless hands-free system, keeping calls short or sending text messages (SMS) and using mobile phones when the signal quality is good.
“People having active medical implants should keep their cell phone at least 30 cm away from the implant,” it added.
The panel said some studies had indicated that radiation from cell phone towers may probably be the reason for vanishing butterflies, bees, insects and sparrows.
The eight-member committee, which included personnel from health ministry and department of biotechnology, also recommended that mobile phones not adhering to standard levels of specific absorption rate (SAR) be barred.
SAR is a measure of the amount of radiation absorbed by the body while using a phone.
India currently follows World Health Organisation-approved International Commission on Non-ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) guidelines.