Scientists have called for curbs on cellphone towers and overuse of mobiles as evidence mounts on health risk posed by them.
World Health Organisation (WHO) said in May last year that mobile phones may cause cancer. WHO reviewed 21 scientific studies from 14 countries. It urged phone owners to limit their use and take 'pragmatic' measures to reduce exposure to mobiles.
In India, an inter-ministerial committee formed to examine the effect of EMF (electromagnetic field) radiation from base stations and mobile phones, stated cause and effect could not be established. However, it recommended lowering of mobile tower's EMF exposure limit to a tenth of the existing norm.
The committee recommended reducing the Specific Absorption Rate (SAR) -- a measure of the amount of radio frequency energy absorbed by the body while using a phone -- to 1.6 watt/kg, as prescribed by the Federal Communication Commission of US, from 2 watt/kg.
The recommendations were accepted and mobile operators have to make these changes by September 1, 2012.
WHO concluded mobile use is 'possibly carcinogenic to humans', a term that places mobiles in the middle of a rating scale that contains five levels of carcinogens. So, mobiles are ranked below things that are definitely known to cause cancer, such as smoking.
Mobiles emit signals in the form of radio waves. These microwaves are a form of electromagnetic radiation When we hold a mobile against our ear, the radiation is in direct contact with the tissue in our head The fear is that this radiation may cause changes in the brain cells.
If DNA in these brain cells gets damaged, they may become cancerous and cause brain tumours, in particular gliomas. This is a rare type of tumour that typically starts in the brain or spine and can cause headaches, nausea, vomiting and seizures.
There are more than 900 million mobile subscribers in India. Many youngsters and professionals are using them more than ever - up to two hours daily.
Cancer is not the only concern as excessive use of cellphones has been linked to a burning and tingling sensation in scalp, headache, ringing in ears, fatigue, dizziness and sleep disturbance. Many users complain about lack of concentration and increase in reaction time. However, no scientific evidence has been found so far.
Use a hands-free system so that the phone is not close to your head, and send texts whenever possible rather than calling someone up. Keep your calls short, especially in case of kids and pregnant women If you have an active medical implant, keep phone at least 30-cm away.
Lower radiation frequency exposure limits to 1/10th of existing level. Restrict installation of mobile towers near crowded residential areas, schools, playgrounds and hospitals.
IIT Bombay, professor Girish Kumar says range of a cordless phone is limited and it transmits about 10 milliwatt of power while mobile phones transmit close to 1000 milliwatt of power. So, cordless phones are safer.