Radiation emissions from mobile towers don't have adverse impact on human health and India should have more mobile towers to boost network, Minister of Communication and Information Technology Ravi Shankar Prasad said on Wednesday. "There is no scientific basis and truth stating that radiation from mobile towers and handsets causes adverse impact on human beings and animals. There are rumours all around the country that due to mobile towers, people will be suffering from cancers and other diseases but it is completely baseless and unfounded," said Prasad.
"There is no impact on humans. There is no empirical evidence of any danger to human life because of all this. Even World Health Organization (WHO) after 30 years of studies has revealed there are no such threats," said Prasad in the Lok Sabha during the Question Hour. Lending his support to the mobile towers, Prasad said that six high courts in the country have clearly said in separate rulings that there is no radiation from mobile towers that impact human health. "Across the world, there is no impact. But I want to ask why are such issues raised in India only? No one has raised such issues in the US, the UK, China or Korea where mobile towers are installed in large numbers," Prasad asserted.
In India, there are more than 100 crore mobile phones. More than 40 crore people are using the Internet and out of 40 crore internet connections, over 60 per cent are mobile based. "In dearth of mobile towers, there will be more call drops. Can we live without mobile phones? Can we afford to do that? If you don't want that to happen, please allow mobile towers to come up in your areas," he said. Prasad said that people should be pragmatic and if people have apprehensions about radiation, they should be worried about undergoing X-Rays or to being screened by metal detectors.
BJP's Rama Devi asked in Parliament if any scientific research has been conducted on the impact of radiation on birds. Prasad in reply said there is no basis to such apprehensions. "A committee set up by the Allahabad High Court made it clear that there is no impact of mobile tower radiation on human beings and animals. Several studies on the impact of radiation from mobile towers and handsets have been conducted in different countries, under the aegis of WHO," said Prasad.
In the area of biological effects and medical applications of non-ionising radiation, approximately 25,000 articles have been published over the past 30 years. Though some people may feel that more research needs to be done in this field, scientific knowledge in this area is now more extensive than for most chemicals. Based on a recent indepth review of its scientific literature, the WHO concluded that current evidence does not confirm the possibility of any health consequences from exposure to low level electromagnetic fields. However, some gaps in knowledge about biological effects exist and need further research.
Prasad however mentioned that during the audit carried out by Telecom Enforcement Resource and Monitoring (TERM) cells, a total of 108 sations of the Base Transceiver Stations (BTSs) have been found exceeding the prescribed EMF radiation limits in the years 2013, 2014, 2015 - up to February 29, 2016.
"For all these non-compliant BTSs, TERM cells have imposed financial penalty amounting to Rs 6.60 crore of defaulting Total Solar Pyranometers as per the prescribed DoT guidelines. One BTS in Haryana LSA was shut down, he said.
Across the world, there have been doubts over mobile phone radiation being a health hazard.
The 13 nation INTERPHONE project - the largest study of its kind ever undertaken - was published in 2010 and did not find any substantial link between mobile phones and brain tumours. The International Journal of Epidemiology published a combined data analysis from INTERPHONE, a multinational population-based case-control study of glioma and meningioma, the most common types of brain tumour. The authors concluded, "Overall, no increase in risk of glioma or meningioma was observed with use of mobile phones. There were suggestions of an increased risk of glioma at the highest exposure levels, but biases and error prevent a causal interpretation. The possible effects of long-term heavy use of mobile phones require further investigation."