Dr. Weeks’ Comment: The evidence is persuasive, the stakes are high and the current research is mostly industry-funded and therefore, suspect. Cautionary principles apply. When in doubt, be careful.
‘Mobile radiation ups cancer risk’
Kumar was speaking at the national seminar on ‘mobile phone and tower radiations-risks and remedies’ at Ghall, Panaji, by Government Polytechnic Bicholim, Goa Chamber of Commerce and Industry ( GCCI) and the department of science, technology and environment ( DTSE).
He noted that mobile companies were choosing to install higher intensity towers to cut costs but were compromising on public safety. Citing a case study where six residents of a high-rise Mumbai building facing a mobile tower were affected by cancer, he went on to explain the link of rise in cancer cases among residents living near cell towers.
“Those living in a 50-300m radius face a high risk-much worse than smoking as you cannot see or smell radiation,” he said, while adding that “you cannot have coincidences everywhere”.
“Biological effects include drying of fluids around the eyes, brain joints, heart and abdomen leading to sleep disruption, headaches, lack of concentration and memory loss, due to changes in the electrical activity of the brain. Prolonged exposure to mobile radiation increases chances of cancer by 200-400% over 8-10 years,” Kumar stressed. It can also lead to miscarriages as it affects the amniotic fluids, he added.
Citing examples of farmhouses, Kumar also observed that mobile tower radiation was affecting the environment and fruit-bearing trees as well as birds.
Explaining further, Kumar said the Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) in India has been fixed at a much higher level than it should be to benefit telecom operators who contribute 30% of India’s GDP. He felt part of the solution lay in reducing the transmitted power from towers which would necessitate setting up of additional towers at a much higher cost.
Industry representative Pradeep Phadke, CEO of Phadnis Telecom, attempted to dispel fears by stating that the cellular industry would like to believe that claims made by scientists were unfounded or pose insignificant risk.