We all use mobile phones and with the current trend and need, mobile phones and internet have become the basic in everybody's life. As technology changes and bring in good features so also our need increases, but we all know that with every new technology, there is some good and bad impact on human lives, the environment, etc. Due to the increase in population, technology, and usage of mobile phones and the internet, there has been an increase in the erection of mobile towers in residential colonies to provide better service to its users.
Many people are concern about the harmful effect of having mobile towers in residential areas due to the harmful radiation from mobile towers and mobile phones on human health. While many studies and debates have come up but to date, there is no scientific cause explained behind the harmful radiation from mobile towers in residential areas but it shows an increase in short-term and long-term diseases.
When we call about radiation, it is the Electromagnetic field (EMF) i.e. the flow of photons in space. These photons carry the energy and depending on the amount of energy carried by it, the type of radiation is defined. There are two types of Electromagnetic field (EMF) radiations i.e. ionizing radiation and non-ionizing radiation.
The energy or high frequencies that can overcome the binding energy of electrons in atoms or molecules is called ionizing radiation. The frequency range of ionizing radiation is above 1THz (i.e.1000 GHz). The common types that we know are x-rays, gamma rays, cosmic rays and ultraviolet (UV) rays, etc. The non-ionizing radiation does not carry much energy to ionize atoms or molecules such as FM radio waves, microwaves, heat, visible and infrared radiations. The frequency range of non-ionizing radiation is from 1 Hz to 1THz which has fewer health effects on human beings as compared to the frequency of ionizing radiation.
The Department of Telecommunication (DoT), Govt. of India has adopted the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) Guidelines which studies possible adverse effects on human health from exposure to non-ionizing radiation. In 2012, DoT has revised the Norms and prescribed limits/levels for antennas (Base Station Emissions) for general public exposure for Mobile Towers in India. The revised EMF Radiation Norms for Mobile Towers in India are as follows:
1. Upto 900 MHz - 0.45 watt/m2
2. 901 to 1800 MHz - 0.90 watt/m2
3. 1801 to 2100 MHz - 1.05 watt/m2
Now about the disadvantages or side effects of radiofrequency (RF) radiation from mobile phone towers, mobile phones, or other sources.
1. The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the US National Toxicology Program (NTP) have not provided any statement about the radiofrequency (RF) radiation from mobile phone towers, mobile phones, or other sources.
2. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has reported that mobile tower radiations can cause brain cancer in humans and are carcinogenic. The radiations from mobile towers have the same effects as that is caused by petrol exhaust, chloroform, lead or being surrounded by DDT.
3. When a survey was conducted with people living in the vicinity of a mobile phone tower to some designed questionnaire, People in the area experience health issues of short-term and common diseases like headache, depression, sleep disorder or insomnia, nausea, fatigue, memory loss, hearing problems, joint pains, skin diseases, irritation, discomfort, memory/focus loss, and some type of physical and mental illness. Many people have reported cases of long-term diseases like asthma, cancer, Alzheimer's disease, multiple sclerosis, and brain tumor.
4. Many towers installed or constructed are illegal or unauthorized and do not follow the norms (the radiation level of 600 milliwatts per meter square (mw/m. sq.) is considered safe) that are set by the concerned government body. We do know that mobile towers generate a higher intensity of radiation as it works 24x7as compared to the mobile phones used by people, thus ignorantly put the lives of people at risk of cancer and other dreadful conditions in the long run. This is because the telecom companies and service providers pay high rents to the property owners, buildings/society, and institutions where it is set or installed thus ignore the norms for the safety of the people. They even install "camouflage towers" which look like a palm tree, water tank, chimney, or street light, and thus are not easily identified.
5. The effect of mobile tower radiation emit (microwaves) not only affects humans but also birds like sparrows, butterflies, and other insects. It is also said that the microwaves emitted interfere with the navigation sensors of the birds, damage bird eggs and embryos, etc. Thus there is a decline in the local birds in the area where mobile towers are installed.
6. The radiation is said to be more effective on Children, adolescents and pregnant women as children's skulls are thinner, and penetration of radiation is easier on them causing maximum risk and the pregnant woman carrying an underdeveloped child.
7. There is also a complaint that children and people staying near mobile towers (residences, schools, hospitals, etc.) area have less concentration power.
8. As 5G (Fifth generation) cellular networks are now being rolled out in many parts of the country, they can transfer data at a much faster rate as compared to previous generations (4G, 3G, 2G, etc.) and used RF wavelengths below 6 gigahertz (GHz) and some higher frequency wavelengths, at the lower end of the millimeter wave (wavelength ranges from 30 GHz to 300 GHz) spectrum, require smaller versions of base stations (known as small cells) that can be easily mounted on streetlights, utility poles, buildings, and other structures which uses much lower power levels than the larger (macro) base stations but the antennas of these small cells being closer to people can expose people to more RF waves. It is to note that so far this issue has not been well studied.
a). Your society, apartment owners Association or Resident Welfare Association (RWA), or the panchayat should ensure that the mobile service providers have got a NOC from the owners/ occupants and residents of the surrounding area before installing a mobile phone tower.
b). Any citizen can ask for an explanation from the mobile service provider's company and a monthly report of the radiation emitted by the tower. If the radiation level is above the normal value i.e. 600 milliwatts per meter square (mw/m. sq.), one can register a complaint and approach the court of law. The High Court has banned the installation of mobile phone towers in residential areas in many cities like Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Punjab, Rajasthan, and metropolitan cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai, and Hyderabad. The state government is also framing policies for on installation of mobile phone towers in the residential areas in the city.
c). Firstly do not buy a home near to mobile phone tower or allow mobile phone companies to install mobile phone antennas on the roofs of your house, building, or schools and if you already have one, and living in the proximity of 400-500 meters, do get their houses tested for radiation at regular interval and inform the mobile service providers company if the radiation level is above the normal value.
d). Limit the use of wireless devices and take supplements and foods high in antioxidants.
For more information on the disadvantages or side effects of mobile tower in resident areas, you can read the article that is attached with the answer which was published in the 4th volume of the International Research Journal of Engineering and Technology (IRJET) dated 11 Nov 2017 by Shashank Vijay and Dr. Mahendra Pratap Choudhary which is titled: Study on Health Effects of Mobile Tower Radiation on Human Beings