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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

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 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.

Effects

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:

  1. The optical radiation portion, where electron excitation can occur (visible light, infrared light)
  2. 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).
  3. 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:

  1. Myth: Mobile 
phone 
use 
cause headaches.

          Facts: Headaches
 are
 not
 related
 to
 Mobile
 phone
 use
 and
 there
 is
 no
 scientific
 evidence.

  1. 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.

  1. Myth: Mobile
 phones
 cause
 brain
 cancer
 to
 the
 people
who
use

          Fact: There 
is 
no 
scientific
 evidence 
that
 Mobile 
Phone
 can
 cause
 brain
cancer.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

Question:

Cellphone tower has been the subject of discussion regarding their health effects. What steps govt. has taken to tackle the problems regarding cell phone towers in India? Critically comment

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