Scientific Research and the Myth of Mobile Tower Radiation

Why cell tower radiation myths should be buried once and for all.

There are multiple myths about mobile tower radiation. But closer scrutiny and a look at some scientific research reveal these are just that: myths. The plain truth could help dispel many misconceptions floating in the public domain.

To begin with, there are two types of radiation: Ionizing and Non-ionizing. But all forms of radiation are not harmful. For example, sunlight is a form of radiation that is largely good for health.

Ionizing radiation is strong and can damage biological tissues, including DNA. In the long run, this can cause cancer. Such radiations include gamma rays, high-intensity X-ray, ultraviolet light, radiation from atomic elements such as uranium, plutonium, etc.

Non-ionizing radiations are weak. These only cause a heating effect and do not inflict any long-term damage to tissue. Sunlight, microwave radiation, tower radiation, TV and radio station radiation are some kinds of non-ionizing radiation found all around.

The power density of sunlight reaching the Earth’s surface falls in the 250-1,000 watts per square metre range. This is a level everyone on Earth is most comfortable with. Against this, the radio frequency (RF) radiation emitted from mobile towers is hundreds of times lesser, even if a person is barely few feet away from the antenna. Clearly, given the distance of the tower antenna and the ground, the exposure is always lower by thousands of times.

Mobile tower radiation falls in the non-ionizing category and does not cause any long-term damage. The exposure of people to radio waves from mobile towers are minimal for multiple reasons. The tower antennas are high above the ground, power levels are comparatively low and the signals are only transmitted intermittently, not constantly. What’s more, mobile towers in India are strictly controlled and mandated to have less than one-tenth the radiation value prescribed by ICNIRP/WHO.

Despite the myth about radiation from cell towers being harmful, many scientific studies across the world have found no evidence for this, including those conducted by WHO. There is also the fear that mobile phone radiations can heat the brain quickly due to their power. Fact: typically, mobiles have around .25 W output power. This causes even lesser heating than regular exercise!

Indeed, in 2013, WHO noted that since exposure to RF fields from cell towers was thousand times lesser than that of mobiles, research was now only being done on mobile phones rather than towers!

These facts prompted Telecom Minister Manoj Sinha to declare in May 2017: “We have to finish off this myth and dispel any rumours of the public or any misconceptions because we have 10 times stricter rules in India than global standards.” The occasion for the Hon’ble Minister’s comment was the launch of Tarang Sanchar – a portal allowing users to check the electromagnetic frequency (EMF) radiation compliance from towers near them or anywhere in India.

Mr Sinha noted the WHO has conducted more than 25,000 research studies highlighting mobile radiation has no ill effects. Would more studies make any sense in revealing the same truth?

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