Mobile danger

NGO suggests cellphone safety measures

By Vibha Varshney
Published: Wednesday 30 November 2005

-- a meeting was organised to discuss the urgent need to regulate radiofrequency field (rf) levels of mobile phones in India. The meeting was organised on October 25, 2005, by International Telecommunication Union -- Asia Pacific Telecommunity Foundation of India, a non-government organisation. It had representatives from the mobile phone industry, service providers, scientists and policy-makers.

A large number of cases have been filed against the mobile industry in industrialised countries. These have argued rf has various deleterious effects including cancer and psychological problems. Consequently, the Indian mobile industry wants to protect itself. Currently there are around 115 million users in India.

Although the effect of rf on health has been studied for the last 50 years, it has not been directly linked to any disease. But since doubts remain, international bodies like World Health Organisation and others are carrying out further studies.

Industry representatives claim that the cell phones in the market are safe at present. The situation might change if substandard sets from small manufacturers enter the market. The towers of service providers have also been implicated in emitting rf . While the existing towers have been manufactured outside India and their quality meets international standards, they are now being made indigenously and there is need to set quality checks.

The International Commission on Non-Ionising Radiation Protection has prepared guidelines on rf emissions and the mobile industry requests countries to implement them. In the meeting, industry representatives suggested that these international guidelines should be followed in India too. There is an ongoing debate about the effectiveness of these guidelines.

So far, no studies have been carried out in India to find out the extent of rf exposure. The government urgently needs to validate these results independently. Shakeel Ahmed, minister of state for communications and it , said that he would ensure that such studies were immediately conducted.

The recommendation is soon to be submitted to the government for further consideration. With new mobile technologies hitting the market, this regulation is the need of the hour.

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