Contrary to general belief, scientific studies on the impact of cellphone towers and the use of mobile phones have proved that they pose no health hazard, a former official of the World Health Organisation claimed on Tuesday.
Michael Repacholi, who was the coordinator of the WHO Electromagnetic Fields project, dismissed claims that radiation from mobile towers is harmful and urged governments to consider scientific facts before imposing a ban, saying there were no proven studies to show that mobile phones cause health hazards.
''The theory of adverse health impact from mobile towers has been dismissed both internationally and by the Delhi Medical Association. Not one study has indicated any scientific link between mobile use and diseases such as brain cancer. However, rumours and hoax visual representations of mobile radiation both online and in the media continue to create unnecessary public scare," he said.
Rapacholi was speaking in Bangalore at a function for the release of a book by Ravi V S Prasad titled Mobile Phones and Public Health - Myths and Reality.
Known and criticised for being an industry man, Rapacholi said moves by civic authorities to uproot mobile towers at schools and other institutions were unwarranted.
"The sun emits radiation of over 250 Watts per square metre, whereas Indian laws have capped the emission from mobile towers at 0.45 Watts per square metre against 4.5 Watts prescribed by the International Commission on Non-Ionising Radiation Protection. It's surprising that the government, instead of creating awareness among people, undertook such an irrational drive solely based on speculative views," he said.
He pointed out that mobile communication saves thousands of lives every day in dangerous situations or medical emergencies. Restricting access to technological advancements would only increase inconveniences and put people at risks, he said.
The Karnataka government is looking to regulate the setting up of mobile towers after the issue of harm due to radiation was recently raised in the state legislature by opposition parties.
Rapacholi denied claims that base stations and handsets may be carcinogenic. ''During 1960s, 70s there was a transistor boom. Radio was accessed by millions. Radio towers emit five times more radiation than mobile phone towers. But no one has had cancer due to radio usage. The claim that mobile phones can cause brain cancer is baseless,'' he said.
He said the WHO has spent $300 million so far on studying the effects of electromagnetic fields, but no study proves health hazards through mobile phones.
''From all the high quality studies that have been published and reviews of all the studies by international public health authorities, it can be safely said that it has not been established that use of mobile phone causes or is associated with any health risks,'' said Repacholi.
The book he released contains articles by Prof Vasant Natarajan of the Department of Physics at the Indian Institute of Science IISc, Bangalore.