Do mobile phone and tower radiation affect humans biologically? The debate has been raging for a few years now. Multiple studies have been done, some ongoing, adding grist to the mill on both sides of the debate.
There are nearly as many studies that disprove the effects of radiation on humans, as those that make a sure case for deleterious health effects.
BioInitiative is an effort that seeks to present the global response to the growing health issue of chronic exposure to electromagnetic fields. In two reports, one in 2007 and the other in 2012, it seeks to list various studies and initiatives that study the effect of radiofrequency radiation in the daily life of billions of people across the world.
After the BioInitiative Report of 2012, it arrived at the conclusion that “there is more evidence than we need. The last five years worth of new scientific studies tell us the situation is much worse than in 2007 and yet people around the world have so much more daily exposure than even five years ago.”
And while mobile companies and service providers, even some scientists, might claim that the evidence is insufficient or not conclusive yet, there is one area where specialists and lay people readily acknowledge the link between cell phone usage and health effects: hearing.
“There is enough and more evidence here,” Mohan Kameswaran, senior ENT Surgeon. “Excessive cell phone usage can cause problems with hearing, and even leads to hearing loss,” he says.
“The first warning signs are warmth and pain in the ear after a long conversation on a mobile phone. If this persists, then it leads to tinnitus, a ringing sound in the ear. It takes some years to lead to further damage, but the hearing loss is permanent, irreversible,” he says.
Apart from the thermal radiation, which occurs when the phone is on, the radio frequency interference in the inner ear is what causes the loss, Dr. Kameswaran goes on to explain.
The fine hair cells are damaged in the inner ear and the vestibular system which contributes to balance, he says.
C.Jacinth, senior ENT surgeon, says he sees between two or three patients complaining of hearing loss and giddiness on a daily basis. Both are associated with excessive cell phone usage. “Definitely, there is a problem with prolonged cell phone usage,” he explains.
Vijaya Krishnan, consultant ENT surgeon, Madras ENT Research Foundation, says, “While we cannot stop using mobiles, we can certainly minimise usage. This is what we tell patients: speak only for a few minutes at a time; prefer a wired hands-free device; use low volume and a landline connection whenever possible.”