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EMF Studies

19 January 2012

Mobile Phone and Tower Alert: Delhi, India

 “The Delhi government plans to make it mandatory for all mobile phones sold in the national capital to prominently display the level of radiation emitted by different brands of mobile phones.”  This decision was taken by a meeting in January 2012 of health experts who also recommended rules for restrictions on the 5,000 mobile phone towers in Delhi.  Most of these towers are legal, however, hundreds of them were erected without approval of the authorities.  The towers are causing noise, air pollution from the use of generators for power backup, and are said to be a “constant health hazard” due to the high levels of radiation they allegedly emit.  One senior official at the meeting commented that “basic market economy could impede implementation of ‘strict’ guidelines for mobile phone use” and installation of mobile towers.  Another reason may be the emission levels from the towers which are “much lower than international safety standards”.

View this recent newsclip from India on mobile phones and towers, posted on "In These New Times" on 15 January 2012.

Experts tell us that lower SAR levels do not ensure that the phone is safer.  SAR, specific absorption rate, is the measure of the power density of the mobile phone and its potential for heating tissues.  The measure is based on radiation penetration into the head of a simulated 200-pound male.  Here is what Camilla Rees of the Electromagnetic Health Organization says about SAR levels:
-        “The SAR value is only comparing the heating effect of different phones and does not give an indication that a cell phone is ‘safe’, or for that matter anything about the biological effect of cell phone use in a given person.
-    The power, or heating effect, of the phone is only one of many possible factors impacting cell phone ‘safety’… Exposures to the radiation from the cell phone at non-heating levels have been linked to many serious biological effects, and the SAR value is not capturing anything about these harmful non-thermal exposures.
-    The SAR value varies with the source of exposure and the person using the phone. For example, if you are in a rural area or in an elevator or a car, where the cell phone uses more power, your brain will get a greater exposure from the higher power required in these instances.  Likewise, if you use a low SAR value phone for long durations, you will be more exposed than someone who uses a low SAR value phone infrequently. Neither is indicative of safety.
-    Holding the phone in a slightly different way can actually render the worst SAR value phone better than the best SAR value phone.”
There seems to be no distinction in the proposed handset guidelines between use by adults and children, who are more vulnerable to the electromagnetic radiation emitted by mobile phones.
This initiative by the Delhi Government is, however, a step in the right direction of protecting its citizens' health from mobile phone technology.  Other cities, like Geneva, Switzerland,  would do well to consider stricter measures regarding mobile phone exposure and antenna emissions.

(Reference:  Article by Bhuvan Bagga, “Mobile Alert …” published 18 January in Mail oneline India.  “Top Safe Cell Phonesthat Aren’t Safe” by Camilla Rees, article from October 2009 appearing in “Citizens for Health”.)

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