Exposure to radiation
writing dissertation software How harmful are the cell towers?
The official answer to the question above is “we do not know the extent of it yet”. Bangladesh does not have a regulatory law on the emission of non-ionizing radiation to work on.
Dr. Mofazzel Haider, Head of the Bangladesh Radiation Control Division, said that there is no national policy whatsoever on non-ionizing radiation emitted by cell towers and other radiation emitters.
“We want to know what effects this emission has on humans and the environment, and we have no way of knowing it until there is a thorough scientific research with conclusive evidence,” Haider told reportsbd.com.
Bangladesh Atomic Energy Regulatory Authority (BAERA) implements the Atomic Energy Regulatory Act 2012, which only encompasses ionizing radiation used in various sectors such as medical, agriculture, printing, energy, ship breaking and building, only to name a few. BAERA with its constrained manpower, issues licenses to the companies handling it and also monitors the sector in line with the national policy on peaceful use of ionizing radiation, which is otherwise extremely harmful to all life forms, with above the limit exposure.
Non-ionizing radiation is emitted by cell towers, wifi signals, microwave ovens, cell-phones and even by some electric bulbs.
The International Commission for Radiological Protection in 1960 set the standards regarding peaceful use of ionizing radiation, taking into consideration the horrific aftermaths of the World War II, when the Americans bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki, two Japanese cities with nuclear bombs.
What the world says
While reluctant BAERA officials term the cell tower emissions “not so grave”, hundreds of scientific and non-scientific sites on the internet depict a dire scenario of the situation. They refer to “decades of studies” which demonstrated that artificial frequencies higher than 10 hertz can cause stress and serious health problems. Various scientific research journals from reputed academic institutions support the above statements too.
These higher energy waves can actually destroy chemical and molecular bonds, creating chaos in our basic biochemical structures. Exposure could upset our enzymes, DNA, metabolism, genes and hormones. Cell tower radiation has also been linked to headaches, memory loss, cancer, birth defects, heart conditions and Alzheimer’s disease.
The riddle behind this damage is that it has a cumulative effect in the tissues, and can take years, even decades to show symptoms.
“Cell phone towers and other equipment are new technologies compared to the atomic bomb, so it will take time to fully understand its effects,” Dr. Haider said. However, he added that his office has nonetheless set a cell tower emission standard of 50 Watt per meter square for associated professionals and 10 Watt per meter square for the public. This standard was set as per guideline by the International Commission on Non-ionizing Radiation Protection or ICNIRP.
In the rural areas of Bangladesh, where powerful cell towers have been spread over the densely populated villages, farmers believe these towers are causing serious damage to their coconuts and yields of other crops. Some also blame the towers for obliterating the bee species. This claim is supported by Dr. Haider of BAERA, who adds, “We have heard about adverse effects on dairy production and coconut trees but nothing can be established until it is scientifically proven.”
Surprisingly, only one Telecommunications Company in the country voluntarily obtained a clearance from the BAERA, confirmed officials.
The rest, including the market leader, GrameenPhone, with millions of subscribers and cell towers dotted throughout Bangladesh, continue to emit unspecified amounts of radiation, creating an ocean of radiation without any environmental clearance whatsoever.
“Recently Banglalink obtained their clearance certificate from BAERA although it is not mandatory under any law of the land,” said an official source in Grameen Phone, ‘the rest of the companies are yet to get the technical go-ahead,” he added requesting anonymity.
The Bangladesh Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (BTRC) issues licenses to the cell companies to operate in the country. But mysteriously, nowhere in the process are cell companies required to produce an environmental clearance, a mandatory provision for all other polluting industries.
Colonel (Retd) Iqbal Ahmed, Director General Engineering of BTRC told the reportsbd.com that they were looking into the matter. “We (BTRC) do not have any technical knowhow on emissions but we follow the standards of the International Telecommunications Union guidelines. We are now calling upon the cell companies to persuade them to share a single tower among them around the country but they are not willing for reasons known to them,” Ahmed added.
The lack of a policy has paved the way for cell companies and homeowners to indiscriminately flood the city rooftops with communication towers emitting unspecified volumes of microwave radiation. There is even no consideration for rooftops of hospitals, schools and densely populated areas.
For instance, on top of a single apartment bloc on Road 9a of Dhanmondi, the greedy association of the residents have rented outspaces for ten towers on its rooftop without the slightest concern for unsuspecting residents living there.
There is no denying that we are exposed to a million times more electromagnetic radiation than our ancestors were, and cell towers are making that exposure grow exponentially.
In addition to the threat of radiation, there is also a widespread apprehension among people that some mobile operators have constructed the towers on top of structurally weak buildings.
A month ago panic spread among hundreds of students, teachers and parents at the Daulabdia Model High School, in Rajbari Upazila, 100 km north of Dhaka. The huge tower of Teletalk, a cell phone company, on the rooftop of the two-storey school building looked so menacing that everyone, just by its visual effects, felt threatened. At one instant, all the students and teachers in a moment of panic, rushed out of the building fearing its collapse, with quite a few students sustaining injuries. Eventually, under pressure from hundreds of angry villagers, the tower had to be shifted to another place.
In the densely populated areas any physical damage caused to the different building structures by these towers, may put the lives of the people living in and around such installations at grave risk.
Since we are living in an active Seismic Zone, these towers could cause devastating damage in case an earthquake strikes, in addition to the physical and health issues caused by its emitted radiation.
But the question remains: can our modern lives go on as smoothly without them.
Report: Morshed Ali Khan
Photos: Mishel Ali Khan & Morshed Ali Khan
Short URL: http://www.reportsbd.com/?p=348