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Saturday, October 6, 2012

Talking on mobiles for over 6 minutes can be dangerous
MUMBAI: You can reduce the radiation risks posed by cellphones if you religiously avoid talking on your mobile for more than six minutes. But since it can be an unrealistic target for many, using a speakerphone or headset and keeping the mobile at least a foot away from the body is the safest option, experts say.

Most importantly, reduce the number of calls from cellphones and use the SMS option instead, or landlines whenever possible. Above all, don't forget to check the specific absorption rate (SAR) while buying a phone, it should be strictly 1.6 watt/kg and not beyond it, suggest telecommunication officials.

If at all you are exposed to radiation from cell towers, or if your residence or office is within 1km from a TV tower or within 500 meters of an FM tower, then growing plants or trees with more water content, or putting water curtains on windows or galleries are other ways to divert radiation.

But the best option is to complain against such a tower. An inter-ministerial committee of experts formed by the ministry of communications and information technology to study the hazards posed by cellphones and towers has already highlighted that radiation from cellphones and towers poses serious health risks, including loss of memory, lack of concentration, disturbance in digestive system and sleep disorders.

In June last year, the WHO and International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified radiofrequency electromagnetic fields as Group 2B agents that could "possibly be carcinogenic to humans," or in simpler words cause brain cancer. Globally, researches are still trying to gauge health hazards caused by prolonged use of cellphones.

Senior consultant radiation oncologist Dr Anusheel Munshi said while more data is awaited, preliminary findings could be strong enough for people to think prevention. "So far, prolonged usage for at least a decade has been linked with brain tumours. It is believed that constant exposure of certain regions of the brain to electromagnetic radiation is to blame for tumours," he said. Munshi also suggested that plug-in ear devices should be used more often and even texting could be used more frequently than talking.

A paediatrician from civic-run Sion Hospital said cell phone usage should be kept to minimum for children. "The damages could be more in case of children as their skull bones are thinner than adults and therefore electromagnetic radiation could penetrate deeper," the doctor said.

R K Bhatnagar, advisor (technology ) to the department of telecommunications, said even corrective action such as reducing the frequency of the antennas, changing their position and direction can also help reduce the effects of radiation on humans. "Re-engineering is possible in most cases, which can give lot of relief but in extreme cases removing them can be the final option," he said.
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