Telecom tower radiation explained: Not all kinds of radiation are known to cause adverse health effects

Scientific facts should always prevail against medieval prejudices based on fear of the unknown.


There are various kinds of radiation all around us, even gravity is a kind of radiation. Some of the radiation that humans are exposed to, are known to be destructive to the body cells, and can potentially cause cancer. The kind of radiation that can knock electrons off atoms and create ions is known as ionising radiation, and studies have linked this kind of radiation to adverse health effects on the body. Common ionising radiation that humans are exposed to include gamma radiation, x-rays and ultraviolet rays. The natural sunlight is actually potentially more harmful to your body than telecom towers.

Telecom towers use non ionising radiation. This is not the kind of radiation known to be destructive to human cells, and known to cause cancer. The radiation is similar to microwave radiation, and can potentially heat up tissue if the radiation is really concentrated. However, radiation from cellular towers are intermittent, and are not nearly powerful enough to have adverse health effects on humans. Fears of cell tower radiation have lead to arbitrary take downs of telecom infrastructure, including dismantling the towers or cutting off the electricity supply. This has aggrevated the call drop problem, and some telecom operators have responded by using smaller infrastructure, that is less likely to scare people.

India has one of the harshest norms in the world when it comes to telecom infrastructure radiation. The levels of radiation allowed for cellular infrastructure is one tenth the globally accepted standards. The regulations in India are more than adequately cautious. The harsh norms apply to the handsets as well, and the exposure to the emissions from handsets is actually more than the exposure of humans to telecom infrastructure. From September 2012, mobile handsets are only allowed a Specific absorption rate (SAR) level of 1.6 Watt/Kg averaged over a mass of 1 gram tissue. The SAR level is an indication of the exposure to cell phone radiation.

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