Myths about cell tower radiations unleashed


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A presentation which counters all myths and false rumours about cell phone and tower radiations based on findings only by WHO reports

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Myths about cell tower radiations unleashed

  1. 1. Mobile Phones, Towersand your HealthPresentation by TV Ramachandran10 April 2012 @ Mumbai 1
  2. 2. AGENDA1. Introduction2. What is EMF?3. International guidelines on EMF & standards setting process4. India follows international norms for EMF safety5. Myths & Facts6. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)7. In Conclusion8. Useful links2
  3. 3. Introduction• Growth of telecom has been one of India’s greatest success stories• Mobile communications are now fundamental to business operations, individual lifestyles and the welfare of the Indian economy.• As of date there are 900 million mobile subscribers in India and is expected to reach 1.159 billion by 2013.• In recent years, concerns have been raised about alleged adverse health effects from the operation of mobile communications technology.• This is despite independent research programs, expert reports, major scientific reviews and advisory bodies around the world continuing to conclude that, based on the current weight of scientific evidence, there are no known adverse health effects from exposures below international guidelines.• Concerns are also being triggered by providing misinformation through public meetings, workshops, misleading press articles, etc. by interested parties.3
  4. 4. What is EMF? EMF. i.e. Electromagnetic fields are part of everyday life, emitted both by natural sources like the sun, the earth and the ionosphere, and by artificial sources such as • mobile phone base stations • broadcast towers • radar facilities • remote controls • electrical and electronic equipment Radio frequency waves lie in In contrast, ionizing radiation, the non-ionizing part of the such as x-rays can strip electrons spectrum which means that they from atoms and molecules, cannot directly impart enough producing changes that can lead energy to a molecule to break or to tissue damage and possibly change chemical bonds cancer4
  5. 5. Radio waves are non ionizingMobile phones communicate by transmitting radio waves through anetwork of fixed antennas called base stations.Radiofrequency waves are electromagnetic fields, and unlikeionizing radiation such as X-rays or gamma rays, can neitherbreak chemical bonds nor cause ionization in the human body. WHO Fact sheet N°193 dated June 2011
  6. 6. World Health Organization recognizes exposurelimit guidelines recommended by ICNIRP & IEEEProtection standardsInternational exposure guidelines have been developed to provide protectionagainst established effects from RF fields by the International Commission onNon-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP, 1998) and the Institute of Electricaland Electronic Engineers (IEEE, 2005).National authorities should adopt international standards to protect theircitizens against adverse levels of RF fields. They should restrict access toareas where exposure limits may be exceeded. WHO Fact sheet N°304 dated May 2006
  7. 7. World Health Organization recognizes exposurelimit guidelines recommended by ICNIRP & IEEEExposure limit guidelinesRadiofrequency exposure limits for mobile phone users are given in terms ofSpecific Absorption Rate (SAR) – the rate of radiofrequency energy absorptionper unit mass of the body. Currently, two international bodies 1, 2 havedeveloped exposure guidelines for workers and for the general public,except patients undergoing medical diagnosis or treatment. These guidelinesare based on a detailed assessment of the available scientific evidence. WHO Fact sheet N°193 dated June 2011 International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP). Statement on the"Guidelines for limiting exposure to time-varying electric, magnetic and electromagetic fields (up to300 GHz)", 2009.2 Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). IEEE standard for safety levels withrespect to human exposure to radio frequency electromagnetic fields, 3 kHz to 300 GHz, IEEE StdC95.1, 2005. 7
  8. 8. Scientific How Standards are set research Peer-reviewed publication Consensus standards“As the progress in technology continuesand human beings are enjoying an increased quality of Regulationslife, it is essential for scientists to ensure that safety isnot compromised. Scientists must be very careful in reporting their findings.Mistakes must be minimized and stopped at the first level of scientific research. As inan Iraqi saying ‘‘it takes one person to throw a rock into to the well, and it willtake 10 people to get it out.’’Let us make sure that what we do is right the first time. If there is a mistake, oneshould be courageous to admit it promptly. Scientists should aspire to explore theunknowns through sound and well-planned research and not to make the situationworse through reporting what might be erroneous conclusions that take a long time toclear up. As stated by the Biological Effects Policy Advisory Group of the Institution ofEngineering and Technology in Europe: ‘‘...scientists have an overridingresponsibility to ensure that their findings are robust before publication,notwithstanding the various pressures to publish their work.’’ [IET, 2006]. 8 Dr. C-K Chou Thirty-five Years in Bioelectromagnetics Research, 2007
  9. 9. Weight of Evidence Approach• In the huge body of literature available on RF electromagnetic fields (and on mobile telephony in particular) several papers can be found suggesting a variety of biological effects at exposure levels below limits recommended internationally.• A rigorous and honest scientific analysis requires however the consideration of all the literature, and a weight of evidence, i.e. that of individual studies be considered based on their scientific quality, replicability, and consistency.• Any numerical limit based on hypothesis and without any exposure- effect relationship is necessarily arbitrary. Dr. Paolo Vecchia, Chairman ICNIRP Minister’s Round Table on EMF, 27 March 2012 @ New Delhi9
  10. 10. About ICNIRP• ICNIRP - the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection• ICNIRP is a non-governmental organization formally recognized by WHO• ICNIRP also endorsed by International Telecommunications Union (ITU)• ICNIRP evaluates scientific results from all over the world and produces guidelines recommending limits on exposure• Its guidelines not only based in science but also include a significant safety margin - a 50 times reduction factor, sufficient to protect all people, children, adults with low BMI, obese individuals & even people who, through frailty or illness, have bodies are less able to control core temperature.• No adverse health effects confirmed below current international guidelines• Typical public exposures from wireless networks & devices often many times below the threshold for established health hazards. Most countries in the world have not adopted any standards for EMF. However, of the countries that do have standards, 90% have standards based on ICNIRP10 In 2008, India adopted EMF limits recommended by ICNIRP
  11. 11. EMF in our Daily livesEmissions from various EMF sources are very much a part of our normal dailylives. The RF emissions from these sources are several multifold times lowerthan the safety limits set by international EMF standards bodiesEmissions from a mobile tower are lower than the emissions from amicrowave and even from our normal radio tuner! 11
  12. 12. MYTH - International limits do not take into account non thermalor biological effectsFACT - World Health Organization has said: – “The exposure limits for EMF fields developed by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) - a non- governmental organization formally recognised by WHO, were developed following reviews of all the peer- reviewed scientific literature, including thermal and non-thermal effects. The standards are based on evaluations of biological effects that have been established to have health consequences.” – “With more and more research data available, it has become increasingly unlikely that exposure to electromagnetic fields constitutes a serious health hazard, nevertheless, some uncertainty remains.” – “Strict adherence to existing national or international safety standards: such standards, based on current knowledge, are developed to protect everyone in the population with a large safety factor.”
  13. 13. MYTH - International limits do not take into account non thermal or biological effects FACT - Both ICNIRP & IEEE consider non thermal and long term effects •“Induction of cancer from long-term EMF exposure was not considered to be established, and so these guidelines are based on short-term, immediate health effects ….. In the case of potential long-term effects of exposure, such as an increased risk of cancer, ICNIRP concluded that available data are insufficient to provide a basis for setting exposure restrictions, although epidemiological research has provided suggestive, but unconvincing, evidence of an association between possible carcinogenic effects and exposure at levels of 50/60 Hz magnetic flux densities substantially lower than those recommended in these guidelines…ICNIRP •“Despite more than 50 years of RF research, low-level biological effects* have not been established. No theoretical mechanism has been established that supports the existence of any effect characterized by trivial heating other than microwave hearing. Moreover, the relevance of reported low-level effects to health remains speculative and such effects are not useful for standard setting.” …IEEE 13* IEEE uses the term low-level biological effects instead of non-thermal effects
  14. 14. MYTH – WHO says cellphone use can increase cancer risk…International Agency for Research on Cancer has found evidence of increase inglioma and acoustic neuroma brain cancer for mobileFACTThe largest retrospective case-control study to date on adults, Interphone,coordinated by the …(IARC), was designed to determine whether there are linksbetween use of mobile phones and head and neck cancers in adults. Theinternational pooled analysis of data gathered from 13 participating countriesfound no increased risk of glioma or meningioma with mobile phone useof more than 10 years. There are some indications of an increased risk ofglioma for those who reported the highest 10% of cumulative hours of cellphone use, although there was no consistent trend of increasing risk withgreater duration of use. The researchers concluded that biases and errorslimit the strength of these conclusions and prevent a causal interpretation.Based largely on these data, IARC has classified radiofrequencyelectromagnetic fields as possibly carcinogenic to humans (Group 2B) … WHO Fact sheet N°193, June 2011
  15. 15. MYTH – Using a cellphone will cause Ear Tumor Using a cellphone increases the temperature of the earlobe; warm sensation/pain > Tinnitus > irreversible hearing loss > all these effects lead to ear tumor!FACTTinnitus is the medical term for "hearing" noises in your ears when there is nooutside source of the sounds……Tinnitus can be a symptom of almost any ear problem, including •Ear infections•Foreign objects or wax in the ear •Injury from loud noises •Menieres disease…Alcohol, caffeine, antibiotics, aspirin, or other drugs can also cause ear noises.Tinnitus may occur with hearing loss. Occasionally, it is a sign of high bloodpressure, an allergy, or anemia.Rarely, tinnitus is a sign of a serious problem like a tumor or aneurysm U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health15
  16. 16. MYTH – It is not safe to live near a mobile tower FACT•The IARC Monograph Working Group discussed and evaluated the availableliterature on the following exposure categories involving radiofrequencyelectromagnetic fields: – occupational exposures to radar and to microwaves; – environmental exposures associated with transmission of signals for radio, television and wireless telecommunication; and – personal exposures associated with the use of wireless telephones.Results•The evidence was reviewed critically, and overall evaluated as being limitedamong users of wireless telephones for glioma and acoustic neuroma, andinadequate to draw conclusions for other types of cancers. The evidence fromthe occupational and environmental exposures mentioned above wassimilarly judged inadequate. IARC Press Release, 31 May 201116
  17. 17. MYTH – Increased cancer cases with proximity to towers10 housewives in Sher-e-Punjab colony, Andheri (E) have been diagnosed with variousforms of cancer – 6 breast cancer cases, 1 ovarian cancer, 1 blood cancer, 1 inguinallymph node cancer, 1 unknown relapsed after chemotherapyFACT•Cancer: Media or anecdotal reports of cancer clusters around mobile phonebase stations have heightened public concern. It should be noted thatgeographically, cancers are unevenly distributed among any population.Given the widespread presence of base stations in the environment, it isexpected that possible cancer clusters will occur near base stationsmerely by chance. Moreover, the reported cancers in these clusters areoften a collection of different types of cancer with no commoncharacteristics and hence unlikely to have a common cause. WHO Fact sheet N°304 dated May 2006 17
  18. 18. MYTH - People living within 50 to 100 meter radius of a tower arein the high radiation zoneAre more prone to ill effects of electromagnetic radiationFACT•. …. The levels of RF exposure from base stations and wireless networks areso low that the temperature increases are insignificant and do not affect humanhealth.•The strength of RF fields is greatest at its source, and diminishes quicklywith distance. Access near base station antennas is restricted where RF signalsmay exceed international exposure limits. Recent surveys have indicated that RFexposures from base stations and wireless technologies in publicly accessibleareas (including schools and hospitals) are normally thousands of times belowinternational standards.•In fact, due to their lower frequency, at similar RF exposure levels, the bodyabsorbs up to five times more of the signal from FM radio and television thanfrom base stations. … Further, radio and television broadcast stations havebeen in operation for the past 50 or more years without any adverse healthconsequence being established. WHO Fact sheet N°304 dated May 2006
  19. 19. MYTH- A person should not use cellphone for more than 18-24 minutes a day In USA, maximum SAR limit is 1.6w/kg which is for 6 minutes, it has a safety margin of 3-4FACT•The averaging time for General Population/Uncontrolled exposure to fixedtransmitters is not applicable for mobile and portable transmitters. See 47CFR §§2.1091 and 2.1093 on source-based time-averaging requirements formobile and portable transmitters.” 19
  20. 20. MYTH – Biological effects of EMF Dizziness!People living in the main beam are exposed to higher Buzzing in the head!radiation levels complain of headaches, sleep Headaches!! Fatigue!disturbance, memory related disorders, fatigue, buzzingin the head, joint pain, miscarriage, cancer, etc. Sleep disturbance! Joint pains!FACT…individuals have reported a variety of health problems that they relate toexposure to EMF…This reputed sensitivity to EMF has been generally termed“electromagnetic hypersensitivity” or EHS.EHS is characterized by a variety of non-specific symptoms, which afflictedindividuals attribute to exposure to EMF. The symptoms most commonlyexperienced include dermatological symptoms (redness, tingling, and burningsensations) as well as neurasthenic and vegetative symptoms (fatigue, tiredness,concentration difficulties, dizziness, nausea, heart palpitation, and digestivedisturbances).The symptoms are certainly real and can vary widely in their severity. Whateverits cause, …. EHS has no clear diagnostic criteria and there is no scientific basisto link EHS symptoms to EMF exposure. Further, EHS is not a medical diagnosis,nor is it clear that it represents a single medical problem. WHO Fact sheet N°296, December 2005 20
  21. 21. MYTH- Biological effects of EMFEffects such as sleep disruption, headache,concentration, forgetful memory, fatigue, dizziness,palpitations, visual disorders, cardio vascular problems,buzzing in the head, altered reflexes – many of these arerelated to changes in the electrical activity of the brainFACT…. At the frequencies used by mobile phones, most of the energy isabsorbed by the skin and other superficial tissues, resulting in negligibletemperature rise in the brain or any other organs of the bodyA number of studies have investigated the effects of radiofrequency fields onbrain electrical activity, cognitive function, sleep, heart rate and bloodpressure in volunteers. To date, research does not suggest any consistentevidence of adverse health effects from exposure to radiofrequency fields atlevels below those that cause tissue heating. Further, research has not beenable to provide support for a causal relationship between exposure toelectromagnetic fields and self-reported symptoms, or “electromagnetichypersensitivity”. WHO Fact sheet N°193 dated June 2011
  22. 22. MYTH- children are more vulnerable to EMFFACT“…the scientific evidence does not show a danger to users of wirelesscommunication devices including children”. Food and Drug Administration, USA, 2005“In conclusion, there is no convincing scientific data to assume a difference inthe absorption of electromagnetic energy in heads of children and adults, nor isit likely that the electromagnetic sensitivity of children’s head changessignificantly after the second year of life. Because of this, the Health Council ofNetherlands sees no reason for recommending limiting the use of mobilephones by children”. The Health Council of the Netherlands, 2004“… with the recent popularity of mobile phone use among younger people, andtherefore a potentially longer lifetime of exposure, WHO has promoted furtherresearch on this group. Several studies investigating potential healtheffects in children and adolescents are underway.” WHO Fact sheet N°193 dated June 2011
  23. 23. MYTH – EMF radiation is tantamount to being in a microwave!FACTAll radiated energy from a phone/tower cannot be directed into asingle point Do you think if a person held a cup of water long enough then it would start to boil ?
  24. 24. MYTH – EMF limits needs to be reduced to 1/100 of existing levelsto be safe FACT - For threshold effects, when a large margin of safety is assured, anything below is safe Whether it is a 50 foot tall or a 5 foot tall boat, they are all safe to go under the Golden Gate Bridge Dr. C-K. Chou, Chairman,24 Technical Committee 95, ICES, IEEE International Health Conference, 8 February 2012 @ New Delhi
  25. 25. MYTH – EMF limits needs to be reduced to 1/100 of existing levelsto be safeFACTLower BTS emissions lead to Higher Emissions from handsets: as perphysics and telecom engineering, the strength of the signal from the mobilehandsets varies based on its proximity to the BTS and the strength of thesignal from the BTS. If the emission levels for BTS are lowered, it willresult in a corresponding increase the signal strength from the mobilehandset, resulting in greater personal exposure of subscribers to EMFPower emitted by mobile phones is limited by the adaptive power control(APC)An increased distance from the base station results in little or noreduction of the environmental level of electromagnetic fields and in asignificant increase of power emitted by the phones Dr. Paolo Vecchia, Chairman, ICNIRP International Health Conference, 8 February 2012 @ New Delhi25
  26. 26. MYTH – A radiation shield will protect you from EMFexposureFACT•The use of commercial devices for reducing radiofrequency fieldexposure has not been shown to be effective. WHO Fact sheet N°193 dated June 2011•Various products are being marketed that claim to increase the safety ofmobile phone use. These products generally take the form of shielded cases,earpiece pads/shields, antenna clips/caps, special batteries and absorbingbuttons.•A mobile phone automatically operates on the lowest power necessary tomaintain call quality. If an add-on device adversely affects the phonesantenna, the phone will attempt to transmit more power up to its specifiedmaximum.•Scientific evidence does not indicate any need for shields on mobilephones. They cannot be justified on health grounds and the effectiveness ofmany such devices in reducing exposure is unproven.26 GSMA Association Health Booklet
  27. 27. FAQ - Should I be concerned about the wireless network in myoffice or at my childs school?The UK Health Protection Agency advises that on the basis of current scientificinformation Wi-Fi equipment satisfies international guidelines and, therefore,there is no reason why schools and others should not use Wi-Fi equipment. Inaddition, the WHO concluded in May 2006 that ...there is no convincingscientific evidence that the weak RF signals from base stations and wirelessnetworks cause adverse health effects.FAQ - Are the stories that mobile phones can cook eggs or makepopcorn pop really myths?They are both myths. There is simply not enough power from a mobile phone toproduce either effect. A mobile phone has a maximum average power of about0.25 watts, compared to 900 watts or more from a microwave oven.27
  28. 28. FAQ - Does a lower SAR mean that a phone is safer? No. Variations in SAR do not mean that there are variations in safety. While there may be differences in SAR levels among phone models, all mobile phones must meet RF exposure guidelines. FAQ - Why are there so many restrictions on using mobile phones in hospitals? At short range, the radio signal from a mobile phone may cause interference with electronic medical devices. At distances greater than 1-2m, the possibility is substantially reduced. It is possible for mobile phones to be used in designated areas of hospitals.FAQ - Why cant I use my mobile phone when I fly?It is standard practice on aircraft to turn off all types of radio transmitters andcertain other electrical devices unless they have been demonstrated not tocause interference to aircraft systems.28
  29. 29. INTERNATIONAL HEALTH CONFERENCE Ensuring Public Health and Safety in the Mobile Industry 8 February 2012 at New Delhi, Organized by Assocham with the support of Ministry of Science & Technology & Ministry of Environment and ForestsPanel of speakers comprised of eminent international experts from globally recognizedand reputed non-commercial organizations who have impeccable credentials andknowledge on this subject as well as concern for health aspects. These included2.Dr. Emilie van Deventer, Team Leader, Radiation Programme, World HealthOrganization (WHO) & Head, International EMF Project3.Prof. Paolo Vecchia, Chairman, International Commission for Non-Ionizing RadiationProtection (ICNIRP),4.Dr. CK Chou, Chairman, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE)International Committee on Electromagnetic Safety TC95,5.Dr. Vijayalaxmi, Professor at Department of Radiation Oncology University of TexasHealth Science Center,6.Prof Kenneth Foster, University of Pennsylvania,7.Prof Niels Kuster, Director, Foundation for Research on Information Technologies inSociety (IT’IS),8.Dr. Jack Rowley, Director Research & Sustainability, GSM Association and9.Mr. Michael Milligan, Secretary General of the Mobile Manufacturers Forum29
  30. 30. Key Messages from WHO• [WHO] Objective: attainment by all peoples of the highest possible level of health• Present Scientific Knowledge: Health effects not established below international guidelines• WHO does NOT develop EMF standards but facilitates international consensus on standards …International bodies, ICNIRP and IEEE/ICES, develop international guidelines for human protection from EMF exposure• WHO Model Legislation : To assist countries without appropriate legislation to protect their population from EMF ...provide a legal framework to provide protection from EMF …EMF limits - adoption of international standards to limit EMF exposure of people (ICNIRP guidelines); emissions of EMF from devices (IEC and IEEE device emission standards)…uniform application of the Act across the national jurisdiction Dr. T. Emilie Van Deventer Team Leader, Radiation Programme, World Health Organization (WHO) & Head, International EMF Project International Health Conference, 8 February 2012 @ New Delhi30
  31. 31. Key Messages from ICNIRP• …the scientific literature published since the 1998 guidelines has provided no evidence of any adverse effects below the basic restrictions and does not necessitate an immediate revision of its guidance on limiting exposure to high frequency electromagnetic fields• [...] studies have yielded no convincing evidence that typical exposure levels lead to adverse reproductive outcomes or an increased cancer risk in exposed individuals (ICNIRP Guidelines, 1998)• We found [in 2009] the existing evidence did not support an increased risk of brain tumours in mobile phone users within the duration of use yet investigated. ICNIRP believes on preliminary review of the [Interphone] results, that they do not change the overall conclusions. ICNIRP therefore considers that the results of the Interphone study give no reason for alteration of the current guidelines (ICNIRP Note on the Interphone Study, 2010)• An increased distance from the base station results in little or no reduction of the environmental level of electromagnetic fields and in a significant increase of power emitted by the phones Prof. Paolo Vecchia, Chairman, ICNIRP31 International Health Conference, 8 February 2012 @ New Delhi
  32. 32. Key Messages from IEEE• Science-based recommendations are made to protect against all established adverse effects in human beings associated with RF exposure• The biological effects of RF exposure have been studied for more than 60 years… No adverse health effects have been confirmed below the current international RF safety guidelines or exposure standards (ICNIRP, IEEE).• An effect is considered established when consistent findings of that effect have been published in the peer-reviewed scientific literature, with evidence of the effect being demonstrated by independent laboratories, and where there is consensus in the scientific community that the effect occurs for the specified exposure conditions.• [ICNIRP and IEEE have RF exposure standards, with large safety margins to protect all population …for threshold effects, when a large margin of safety is assured, anything below is safe… [for example] whether it is a 50 foot tall or a 5 foot tall boat, they are all safe to go under the Golden Gate Bridge.32 Dr. C-K. Chou, Chairman, Technical Committee 95, ICES, IEEE International Health Conference, 8 February 2012 @ New Delhi
  33. 33. In Conclusion• Use of cell phones is a part of our daily life and provides numerous benefits.• However some people are confused and concerned about the rumored health effects of electromagnetic fields (EMF) emitted by mobile communication systems.• (ICNIRP) guidelines for RF exposure [which have been adopted by India in 2008] are recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and provide science-based exposure limits that are applicable to both public and occupational exposure from RF and ELF fields• ICNIRP forms the basis for national regulations in 90% of the countries around the World that have adopted standards for EMF exposure.• Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) is another international standard which is followed primarily in the Americas.• These international guidelines are based on a weight of evidence review from all peer-reviewed scientific literature and not on the conclusions of any single33 scientific paper.
  34. 34. In Conclusion• The guidelines provide protection against established effects of exposure to EMF and includes significant safety margin to protect all people including children.• No adverse health effects have been confirmed below the current international RF safety guidelines or exposure standards (ICNIRP, IEEE). The typical public exposures from wireless networks and devices are often many times below the threshold for established health hazards.• WHO notes that significant differences between national regulations and international recommendations can foster confusion for regulators and policy makers, increase public anxiety and provide a challenge to manufacturers and mobile operators who need to tailor their products to each market.• WHO recommends that National authorities should adopt international standards to protect their citizens against adverse levels of RF fields.34
  35. 35. Useful Links World Health Organisation project on EMF International Commission on Non Ionizing Radiation Protection Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers Department of Telecommunications Cellular Operators Association of India GSM Association pages on health and environment EMF communications initiative from industry associations European Union Directive for ensuring safety in member states (1999)35