Sanchita Sharma, Hindustan Times
Concerned by the health fallouts of cellphone radiation, the government has drafted guidelines asking manufacturers and service providers to avoid advertisements showing children and pregnant women using cellphones. There are about 250 million cellphone users in India. Last year, the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare had also asked the Indian Council Of Medical Research to conduct a long-term study on the hazards of cellphone use and abuse.
The Hindustan Times was the first to report this on October 6, 2007.
Ministry of Telecommunications draft guidelines say electromagnetic waves emitted from mobile phones can seriously damage the tissues of the users’ brain and prescribe limited use by children, pregnant women and heart patients. “Mobile phones are being used by very young children over long periods, causing problems like headaches and short-term memory loss,” says Union Health and Family Welfare Minister Anbumani Ramadoss.
“There is still no data available worldwide on long-term use. Cellphones emit low levels of radiofrequency (RF) energy while being used and even lower RF in stand-by mode. But since long use can cause RF to heat tissue and cause biological effects, we need to know its impact,” says the minister.
Ministry of telecommunication guidelines say RF energy can harm human health by heating up tissues, prompting many doctors to advise people not to talk for long or keep cell phones in the breast pocket (near the heart) or trouser pocket (near the crotch).
“Conversations should be kept brief and hands-free sets used as far as possible. People with implants such as pacemakers should take basic precautions such as not carrying the phone in their breast pocket just over the pacemaker,” says Dr K. K. Aggarwal, chief cardiologist at Moolchand Hospital.
Three large international studies have been published on cellphone safety since December 2000. The studies investigated any possible association between the use of wireless phones and primary brain cancer, tumours of the brain or salivary gland, leukaemia, or other cancers. None of the studies found any harmful health effects, but since the average period of phone use in these studies was around three years, none could answer questions about long-term exposure.
As a precaution, several governments – such as the UK – recommend children under 16 years to limit cellphone even though no scientific evidence that any health hazard exists.