An eight-member committee comprising representatives of the Health Ministry, the Department of Biotechnology and the member secretary of DoT (Department of Telecommunications) had been tasked with finding the impact of mobile phone radiation on health.
The committee found that radiation from mobile towers and mobile phones pose grave health risks including memory loss, lack of concentration and digestive disturbances
It has also concluded that the effect of radiation is worst on birds and insects, and has attributed the disappearance of butterflies, bees, insects and sparrows to the effects of radiation. It has also found that companies frequently violate international radio frequency standards.
The committee recommends that mobile phones not conforming to specific absorption rate (SAR) limits be banned. SAR measures the radio waves absorbed by a person while he uses a phone.
Currently, maximum permissible SAR value as per the Indian guidelines is 2 Watt per kg (of user’s body mass), and the committee recommends that this be lowered to 1.6 Watt per kg, as prescribed by the Federal Communication Commission of USA.
The committee also recommends that mobile towers not be installed in highly populated residential areas, schools, play areas and hospitals.
The report says, “People who are chronically exposed to low-level wireless antenna emissions and users of mobile handsets have reported feeling several unspecific symptoms during and after its use, ranging from burning and tingling sensation in the skin of the head, fatigue, sleep disturbances, dizziness, lack of concentration, ringing in the ears, increase in reaction time, loss of memory, headache, disturbance in digestive system and heart palpitation.”
Dr R S Sharma, an ICMR scientist, says that the effects of the radiation are deadlier on Indians as compared to Europeans due to our low body mass index and low fat content. The tropical climate in India also aggravates the effect. The report points out that children, adolescents and pregnant women could be at maximum risk, and it recommends the use of hands-free technology to lower physical contact between the body and the cell phone. “People having active medical implants should keep their cellphone at least 30 cm away from the implant,” it adds.
Children seem to be the worst hit with the extreme use of cell phones. It has been claimed that there is a 400 per cent increase in chances of brain cancer among teenagers using cell phones for long periods. And the younger the child, the deeper is the penetration of electromagnetic radiation as children have thin skulls.