Tamil Nadu

Cell phone radiation may be harmful, but not lethal

THRISSUR,16/09/2012.A man talking his mobile phone against the backdrop of a mobile tower in Thrissur, Kerala. The environment ministry has issued an advisory asking the department of telecommunications not to permit new mobile towers within one- kilometre radius of existing ones to prevent the impact of electromagnetic radiation (EMR) on birds and bees. It also suggested location-wise GIS mapping of all cell phone towers to help in monitoring the population of birds and bees in and around the mobile tower area and wildlife protection area.Photo:K_K_Mustafah.

Recent studies in institutions across the world have contradicted reports of radiation from cell phones and their towers damaging the eggs of sparrows, and thereby contributing to their reducing numbers.

In the last two years, universities in Kerala, Assam and several Indian and international conservation agencies have raised concerns about the decreasing number of sparrows and blamed it on the radiation emitted from mobile phones and cell phone towers. Some have also established links between the radiation and cancer, while a few reports have suggested that sparrow eggs break when they come in contact with a cell phone in operation for considerable time.

But some recent reports in Indian and international institutions have expressed doubts whether cell phone radiation, that falls between TVs and microwave ovens belonging to the low frequency radiation of the electromagnetic spectrum, can conceivably impair health.

Arunn Narasimhan, associate professor, IIT- Madras, explains that the electromagnetic spectrum is split into two zones - ionizing and non-ionizing radiation. “Ionizing gamma rays and X-rays can cause cancer when their energy is absorbed by the tissue, damaging DNA. But both microwaves and radio waves – used to transmit data to television and radio, don’t have sufficient energy to knock-off electrons from atoms of the objects they pass through.”

“If waves from cell phones were to affect health, then radio waves which have existed for a long a time now, should have done much damage,” he said.

Recent research papers in the encyclopaedia of Environmental Health have said that no study has concretely proved that cell phone radiation can cause irreparable damage to health. The view that exposure to cell phone radiation leads to DNA mutations and growth of cancerous tumours in humans or living things is a conjecture not yet proved.

“Sparrows are ‘affected’ by cell phone radiation just like any other living being. Tying a cell phone in operation to a sparrow’s body can lead to heating of the sparrow. Beyond this, there is no correlation between cell phone radiation – whether from the hand-held devices or towers – and decline in sparrow population,” said Prof Narasimhan.

Some recent reports have suggested that microwaves cause DNA mutation in the egg yolk or irreparable damage to atoms. “If this were true, eggs randomly should pop-off in nests all over a region due to incessant cell phone microwave radiation noise,” he said.

Our code of editorial values

This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | May 12, 2022 11:02:34 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu//article60478824.ece