Cell phone, cell phone towers and government regulations
Cell phone, cell phone towers and government regulations
The popularity of cell phone and wireless communication devices has resulted in a proliferation of cell towers across the country 736 K mobile towers in the country with about 10 Service Providers in each of 22 Licensing Service Areas. There has been public concerns on possible health hazards and impact on biota & environment due to EMF radiation from Mobile Towers /Handsets.
Part of the radio waves emitted by a mobile telephone handset are absorbed by the body. The radio waves emitted by a GSM handset are typically below a watt. The maximum power output from a mobile phone is regulated by the mobile phone standard and by the regulatory agencies in each country. In most systems the cellphone and the base station check reception quality and signal strength and the power level is increased or decreased automatically, within a certain span, to accommodate different situations, such as inside or outside of buildings and vehicles. The rate at which energy is absorbed by the human body is measured by the Specific Absorption Rate (SAR).
Radiation is energy that comes from a source and travels through some material or through space. Light, heat and sound are types of radiation. The kind of radiation discussed in this presentation is called ionizing radiation because it can produce charged particles (ions) in matter.
Ionizing radiation is produced by unstable atoms. Unstable atoms differ from stable atoms because they have an excess of energy or mass or both.
Unstable atoms are said to be radioactive. In order to reach stability, these atoms give off, or emit, the excess energy or mass. These emissions are called radiation.
Non-ionizing (or non-ionising) radiation refers to any type of electromagnetic radiation that does not carry enough energy per quantum (photon energy) to ionize atoms or molecules—that is, to completely remove an electron from an atom or molecule. Instead of producing charged ions when passing through matter, the electromagnetic radiation has sufficient energy only for excitation, the movement of an electron to a higher energy state
The region at which radiation becomes considered as “ionizing” is not well defined, since different molecules and atoms ionize at different energies. The usual definitions have suggested that radiation with particle or photon energies less than 10 electronvolts (eV) be considered non-ionizing.
Non-ionizing radiation can produce non-mutagenic effects such as inciting thermal energy in biological tissue that can lead to burns. Recently, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) from the WHO (World Health Organization) released a statement indicating that radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (including microwave and millimeter waves) are possibly carcinogenic to humans.
In terms of potential biological effects, the non-ionizing portion of the spectrum can be subdivided into:
- The optical radiation portion, where electron excitation can occur (visible light, infrared light)
- The portion where the wavelength is smaller than the body. Heating via induced currents can occur. In addition there are claims of other adverse biological effects. Such effects are not well understood and even largely denied. (MW and higher-frequency RF).
- The portion where the wavelength is much larger than the body, and heating via induced currents seldom occurs (lower-frequency RF, power frequencies, static fields)
Myths and Facts: (by Department Of Telecommunications)
Various Myths about Mobile Handsets & Mobile base stations:
- Myth: Mobile phone use cause headaches.
Facts: Headaches are not related to Mobile phone use and there is no scientific evidence.
- Myth: It is after using a mobile phone in a car as the car shields from the radiation.
Fact: The RF radiation is increased by Mobile phones when used in a car to overcome the shielding.
- Myth: Mobile phones cause brain cancer to the people who use
Fact: There is no scientific evidence that Mobile Phone can cause brain cancer.
- Myth: Mobile Base stations are dangerous and one should have distance from
Fact: It is the antenna from which we should keep distance not from tower and that too if we are positioned facing antenna at comparable height. At the ground level, the intensity of RF radiation from base station is much less.
- Myth: Nobody is investigating the health effects of Radio Frequency (RF)
Fact: The World Health Organization, many national & international organizations and independent expert groups are coordinating to investigate health effects of RF radiations
EMF radiation norms
Govt of India, in the year 2008, adopted the International Commission for Non Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) Guidelines Ø License conditions of Operators were amended on 4.11.2008, with directions to comply to ICNIRP prescribed radiation norms.
Revised EMF radiation norms
Mobile Towers‐ EMF Radiation Norms:
EMF exposure limit (Base Station Emissions) is lowered to 1/10th of the existing ICNIRP exposure level effective from 1st Sept. 2012. India now has one of the most stringent EMF exposure norms in the world.
Telecom Enforcement Resource & Monitoring (TERM) Cells of DOT have been entrusted with the job of conducting audit on the self certification furnished by the Service Providers. TERM Cell shall carry out test audit up to 10% of the BTS site on random basis and on all cases where there is a public complaint.
Telecom Engineering Centre (TEC) has revised the Test Procedure for measurement of EMF for verification of EMF compliance for BTS towers in accordance with new standards effective from 1st Sept. 2012.
For non‐compliance of EMF standards, a penalty of Rs. 5 lakh is liable to be levied per BTS per Service Provider.
For mobile headsets
India has adopted the most stringent international norms for mobile handsets. • All the new designs of mobile handsets shall comply with the SAR values of 1.6 W/kg averaged over 1 gram of human tissue w.e.f. 1st Sept. 2012.
The mobile handsets with existing designs which are compliant with 2.0 W/kg averaged over 10 gram of human tissue, continue to co‐exist up to 31st August 2013. From 1st Sept. 2013, only the mobile handsets with revised SAR value of 1.6 W/kg would be permitted to be manufactured or imported in India.
Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) value information display on the mobile handsets like IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity) display. The information on SAR values to be made available to the consumer at the point of sale.
Mobile hand set manufactured and sold in India or imported from other countries shall be checked on random basis for compliance of SAR limit after TEC SAR Laboratory is set up by end of year 2012. Test results from International accredited labs shall be acceptable in the interim period.
All cell phone handsets sold in the market in India shall comply with relevant standards and shall be available in hand free mode.