According to an article from EmfNews, by first of September this year India will lower to one tenth the level of emitted radiation by cellphone towers. This way the prevailing standards of 9.2 w/m2 (watt per square meter) will be lowered to 0.92 w/m2. Such a decision follows a report of inter-ministerial committee to study the hazards posed by electromagnetic field radiation (EMF) from base station and mobile phones.
The representative of health ministry on the committee, Dr. R.S. Sharma, the Deputy General Director of Indian Council of Medical Research, said the new norms will place India among the conscious countries regarding to radiation exposure. He added that: “India’s current radiation exposure limit (9.2 watt/m2) for cellphone towers is higher than countries like Russia (0.2 w/m2) and China (0.4 w/m2). In USA, Canada and Japan, however, the radiation exposure limit is much higher (12 w/m2).”
Lowering of the limit is a preventive step against serious health risks posed by radiation emitted from cellphone towers which includes the possibility of developing certain types of cancer. Even the cause and effect relationship though hasn’t been established yet; the department of telecommunications has also issued directions for reducing the specific absorption rate (SAR), a measure of the amount of radiofrequency energy absorbed by the body while using a phone.
According to Rajan S Mathews, director general of Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI), lowering the electromagnetic field radiation limits will give no health benefits but affect services. He said that the coverage will be deteriorated, the handsets will have to work harder to consume more power and to cause greater personal exposure. On the other hand he said more towers would then be needed to plug the gaps, which will increase the overall electromagnetic field radiation. He said the rollout of 3G and broadband services will also get adversely affected.
Telecom companies argue that the steps are not needed as there is no proof of a direct correlation between the radiation emitted by cellphone towers and phones and health.
Delhi health minister A K Walia recently held a meeting with scientists from ICMR and JNU, besides others, where it was decided to impose stringent norms for installation of cellphone towers in residential areas. “We are also talking to the union government to make radiation level tags mandatory for different brand of handsets,” Walia told TOI.
Girish Kumar, professor in the department of electrical engineering at IIT Bombay, whose research on hazards of cellphone is being used as a reference for most policy decisions in India, said that most countries like Australia, Russia and China have lower levels of electromagnetic field radiation exposure compared to India.