In response to the personal account sent in by Steven which I published a few days ago Dr Omana Mammen an electrical engineer in India kindly sent me her story.
Its an article that she wrote for a magazine. She sent it me she says so,”it may be beneficial to the readers”. Here Dr Mammens tells her story and of the situation in India where she lives:
Health hazards due to radiation from mobile towers and mobile phones
“Dr Omana Mammen
HOD, R&D, SIST, Retd Engr (ISRO)
Mobile phone technology has revolutionized the telecommunication scenario all around the world. Nowadays mobile phones have become one of the basic needs of life. Due to its several advantages, cell phone technology has grown exponentially in the last decade. Currently, there are more than 50 crore cell phone users and nearly 4.4 lakh cell phone towers to meet the communication demand.
Mobile communication uses Electromagnetic Radiation waves in 800 Mhz to 2.4Ghz band and mobile towers are part of the technology. These towers are now present in everyone’s horizon of view even in thickly populated areas and schools. Since human senses do not directly respond to EM waves we are not conscious that we are drenched in them. However it is borne out by scientific research that mobile phones towers are hazardous to health of human beings, plants and animals. Towers emit 10000 times the radiation of a mobile phone. The problem is severe as a tower emits all the time and many service providers use the same tower. Therefore the towers should not be located in residential areas.
I entered this field of research out of necessity for better health. There are two roof mobile towers within 40 meters of my residence and one more at 100 meters away. The nearest one is used by three service providers and GSM and 3G technologies are used. 3G was introduced in June 2011. I have heard about the link between microwave radiation and cancer.
When three coconut trees in our back yard, about 25 meters from the tower were stunted with malformed leaves and were cut three years back, I doubted the tower and started reading about mobile communications. Before that my husband had flashes in the eye and I had dryness in the eye and joint pain. We had a series of infections since Jan 2012 in spite of a healthy lifestyle using plenty of fruits and vegetables from our home garden. The study revealed that the frequent problems can be due to reduction in immunity level due to continuous radiation from mobile towers. We got annoyed due to a sleep disorder similar to jet lag with sleepless nights and sleepy days. An increase in BP was also seen. My four year old grand daughter had digestive problems, fever etc.
More than half of the publications in the internet report that there is no problem due to mobile towers and mobile phones. These are from the industry itself. Lot of publications gave alarming reports. Problems reported in literature as biological effects of radiation are: Sleeping disorder, Joint pain, Dryness of eyes, Memory related problems, Fertility problems, cancer, reduction in immunity level and possibility of infections, diseases and quality of life.
International standards exist in erecting Mobile Phone Towers and the standards also have guidelines for acceptable power levels. Distance from residences, schools etc are specified separately. India has adopted ICNIRP (International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection) standards. ICNIRP followed in the US and EU is the worst amongst the standards.
Maximum power level as per ICNIRP is 9.2 watts/m2. ICNIRP is only intended to protect the public against short term gross heating effects and NOT against ‘biological’ effects such as reducing immunity level leading to infections to cancer and genetic damage from long term low level microwave exposure from mobile phones, masts and many other wireless devices. But biological damage occurs at much lower rates. In a study conducted in Germany ( Ref: 1), safe power density at any point is given as less than 100 microwatts/m2. EU Parliament (STOA 2001) recommends – 100 μW/m2. Russia has adopted .02 w/m2 and China .1 w/m2.(Ref 2) They are considering to reduce further. DOT has reduced the safe radiation level as 450 milli watts/m2 after Sept 2013 considering the safety of people. But it is 4500 times more than the safe value!
Radiation density is inversely proportional to the square of distance from antenna. In US the safe distance is 500 meters. In India, only Himachal Pradesh has specified the distance as 100 meters away from homes. Kerala does not have any specification on distance and a distance of 3 meters is taken based on existing rules for installing electric posts!
Measurement is the only way to find out radiation density at a place. The value can be the effect of all the towers nearby. A good radiation meter SRM 3000 used by industry costs Rs fifteen lakhs. It is a compact, frequency selective measuring system for safety analysis and environmental measurements of high frequency electromagnetic fields. It has wide band antenna covering 9KHz to 6 GHz and provides radiation level at selected frequency spectrum. Prof Girish Kumar, IIT Bombay has developed a low cost radiation meter Detex 189 which has LED indication, green for safe level -15dbm level.
With the help of VSSC, we made measurements. The effect of wifi. Laptop, microwave ovens were also studied.
Inferences from measurement at my residence
Our homes are not safe because of wifi, laptops with wifi enabled, cordless phones , wireless toys, mobile phones , microwave oven etc. Their contribution can be even greater than that due to towers! Radiation from towers increases with altitude and the first floor rooms facing the tower showed 10 times higher value than ground floor rooms. The terrace showed 100 times increase. The radiation density reduces with distance from the tower. Concrete walls block radiation to a limited extent. Trees absorb radiation. We had lot of trees around the house, except one side facing one tower. The roof top was covered with aluminium sheets for water harvesting. The values were less than the open terrace.
The values were much more than the safe value of 100 microwatts/m2. I was certain that our bodies are affected by microwave radiations.
It was difficult to convince even my family members, but they supported me. I felt helpless on what to do. I prayed and put my burden on Jesus who promised to bear my burden as per the Bible. My colleagues in SIST supported me. One Asst professor selected this as her topic for PhD. SIST purchased a Radiation meter Detex 189.
Myself and my husband, both Electronic engineers with rich experience in VSSC, decided to eliminate all radiation sources within the house. We also wanted to inform others of our findings and solve/ reduce the problem. We decided to give a petition to the Human rights commission.
Eliminate radiation sources within the house
To reduce radiation within the house, wifi and cordless phone were replaced with wired connections, disabled wifi in laptops and decided not to use blue tooth, wireless toys and microwave oven. We also decided to avoid high radiation areas like the terrace.
We grew more plants like plantain, Jathi etc as they absorb radiation and block radiation. Walking barefoot effectively grounds the radiation absorbed by the body. We try to increase immunity level by healthy food ( Avial with organically grown vegetables, goosberry with honey)
Reduce radiation level to safe value by shielding techniques
Shielding is a technique to reduce the effect of radiation. Paint, film, cloth etc are items available for importing. We tried shielding the house, with locally available materials. We tried different ways.
We were successful in shielding windows with stainless steel mesh with 1.5mm holes. Radiation density in rooms did not reach safe levels because of radiation penetrating through walls. As the wall was at the back side, we used chicken mesh of 12 mm hole size to shield walls. holes <<wavelength of radiation.
V = f λ =3×108 m/sec. λ = 10cm so hole size << 10cm
DETEX 189 radiation meter was used to test the effectiveness of shielding. We felt the need for radiation meter with digital display of values. It is getting ready at SIST. Once the rooms were brought to safe level, final measurements were taken using SRM 3000, with the help of Idea officers. We studied the effect of radiation from cell tower with shield and without shield using SRM 3000.
Effect of shielding
Our sleep pattern became normal and we get sound sleep. We feel healthier. We took Ayurvedic treatment for dryness in the eyes and flashes in the eyes and homeopathy for joint pains.
Sleep disorder and dryness in eye reappear when I spend a few hours outside home.
After shielding, the signal received for a call gets reduced. Then the mobile phone boosts the signal level and establishes communication with the tower at a higher level. It is better to go out and make the call. Even if communication is carried out at a higher level, it is better from a health point of view as the call time is small in a 24 hour day. We tested the signal strength in the EMI chamber to assess the suitability of mobile phone for instrumentation. It was 660 microwatts/m2, -20dbm,for sending and receiving. The raised signal strength was because of the shielded EMI cabin.
Petition to human rights commission
A petition was given to Human Rights Commission as we felt that mobile towers near residence is a serious human rights issue since we have a right to live peaceably and no one has the right to engage in activities that can directly or indirectly affect our physical health. It is also to create awareness, help people and request Govt to have norms which take care of safety of human beings and environment.
Human Rights Commission considered the petition and took necessary actions. The concerned were given orders to bring down the radiation levels to a safe value. The tower operator in turn has given a petition that they follow the existing norms in the country!
I could find out many problems in the system which make the people living near towers helpless. With the existing norms, no case against the industry can win.
Telecom Enforcement, Resource and Monitoring Cells-term cells are responsible for vigilance, monitoring and security functions. In Kerala, their office is at Cochin. They visited our house, heard our problems and took measurements. Termcell, the monitoring authority does not have any measurement set up and they depend entirely on the service providers and self certification. For complaints , Termcell arrange to take measurements. As the standard adopted in India is 450 mwatts/m2, and the measured value being lower, they certify that there is no problem. Regarding health problems. they answered it has to be certified by a doctor. But 99. % of doctors are not aware of the problem.
Present norms adopted by DOT does safeguard human beings. Radiation density limit of 450 mwatts /m2 is 4500 times more than the safe limit of 100microwatts/m2.
Maximum radiated power from a tower is not specified. Radiated power is 20 watts to hundreds of watts depending on the number of service providers and number of carrier frequency bands allotted to each. The continuous radiation to nearby residents is much more than safe limit.
Some states like Himachal pradesh have their own rules regarding safe distance from residences. Kerala does not have any rules.
Permission for erecting towers
The Corporation gives permission for erection of towers and they consider the structural safety of the tower. The officials visited us and told that they see the structural safety only. License for transmission, permission for sharing tower by many service providers, license for new technologies etc are given by DOT. A single agency should give permission for erecting towers, considering the safety of people. Idea and Airtel officials also visited us and told that the radiations are not at all harmful. They brought some certificates from doctors stating that the radiations are not harmful.
The mobile phone requirement is .001 microwatts only. Hence transmitted power can be reduced.
There should be norms regarding distance to residences, Schools etc from antenna, height at which antennas are fixed and total power transmitted from a tower. DOT and industry should accept the fact that problem exists and try to solve the problem.
Protection from cell phone radiation
Mobile phone is to be used with great care to safeguard the health of the user. Get phones with less SAR value.
Do not allow children to use a cell phone for calling. Even when it is not used, it is continuously communicating with the nearby tower and hence radiating.
Make phone calls that are absolutely necessary and use speaker phone as much as possible. Put your phone near the ear only after two seconds of accepting a call.
Avoid carrying your phone directly on your body. Use your phone only on conditions of optimum reception. The signal strength is boosted up automatically and you get more radiation. Do not use phone in a moving vehicle or in a vehicle. Do not keep the phone in the bed room.
Make sure your immune system is in good shape.
Eat organic food. Drink clean water. Get regular exercise. Use non toxic cleaners in your home and body.
Effect on environment
Coconut trees after a certain height gets affected as the leaves are at the top only. The leaves are crippled and the trees die. Three coconut trees in our backyard were cut three years back. Now one in our back yard and one in neighbors plot are with burnt leaves. These are in one sector and there are healthy trees nearby. Jathi trees also seem to be affected as the seeds fall down without becoming ripe. As the trees have leaves from the bottom , trees survive.
A tower is an open microwave oven. Microwave radiations from mobile towers are harmful to human health. There are short term effects and long term effects. All are not equally susceptible to radiations. But most people will be affected after many years of continuous exposure. Temperature rise, increase in the incidence of cancer, reduction in immunity and resultant infectious diseases, premature aging, decrease in birds and bees are the result of the microwave radiations.
The dish antennas for tower to tower communication can be replaced with a fibre optic link. The effect of dish antennas, side lobes etc, should be studied.
It is a human rights violation to install mobile towers near schools, hospitals, and residential areas and increase power transmitted as they wish. It should be at a safe distance and consent from neighbors should be obtained.
Total transmitted power from towers should be such that nearest residence radiation density is less than 100 μW/m2.
Shielding is an effective technique to reduce radiation within the house. There are lot of products in the market. The genuine ones have to be located and cost effective ones should be developed.
More research in multidisciplinary areas like technical, bio science and medicine, financial support and volunteers are necessary. With combined research with industry, it may be possible to put shields in the tower itself to protect nearby residents from harmful effects.
Let me thank God Almighty who protected me and guided me in my trials and enabled me to find out solutions and live with reasonably good health. I am thankful to my family members for all the support. I am thankful to my colleagues in SIST, our Director Mr Kaimal, our Principal Dr Jana, Mr Sadasivan, Dr Jithendranath, Dr George Thomas and others who encouraged me to face the situation and bring out the problems and solutions so that it is useful to many. Deepa wanted to do PhD under my guidance. I gave her many suggestions and she selected to work in Mobile tower radiation hazards. I thought it is God’s will. Getting some useful websites, giving insight to the problem and affordable solutions.. all I consider as God’s help. I am thankful to my colleagues in VSSC Mr Rangaswamy and others. I am thankful to the Human Rights Commission for considering the case and wait for the day when the rules are modified and enforced , considering the safety of people .
1.HF radiation levels of GSM cellular phone towers in residential areas, Thomas Haumanni, Uwemunzenberg, Wolfgang Maes and Peter Sierck.
2.Report on cell tower radiation, Submitted to DOT Delhi, Prof.Girish Kumar, IIT Bombay
3.Bio initiative report 2012
Thanks so much to Dr Omana Mammen for sharing her story.