Telecom and Postal Sector – Spectrum Allocation, Call Drops, Predatory Pricing, etc

Mobile towers are harmless, says declassified CPCB report


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to development & management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: ICNIRP, non-ionizing radiations

Mains level: Health issues raised by Telecom radiations


  • A recently-declassified study of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) states that mobile towers do not have any negative effect on human health.

Details of the Report

  1. The study is one among several done in the previous decade by the CPCB, which had not been declassified since 2010.
  2. They have been published recently after the Supreme Court instructed to make public, all reports related to the impact of environmental pollution on health and the economy.
  3. The safety limits are prescribed by the International Commission on Non Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP).
  4. The report had said that there was no substantive or convincing evidence of cell phone radiation’s biological effects that could harm a person’s health.
  5. The ICNIRP standard uses the limit of 450 μW/cm2 (micro-watts per sq cm).

Effects of exposure to radiations

  1. However, the report does admit that the current exposure safety standards are purely based on the thermal effect while ignoring the non-thermal effects of radiation.
  2. In international standards, “thermal effect” of radiation refers to the heat that is generated due to absorption of microwave radiation which causes cellular and physiological changes in living beings.
  3. This effect may be responsible for genetic defects, effects on reproduction and development, central nervous system behavior and many similar serious health consequences.
  4. Non-thermal effects of radiation have been shown to be responsible for fatigue, irritability, headaches, nausea, loss of appetite, sleep disturbance, disruption and other psychological disorders, memory loss and difficulties in concentration.

New norms

  1. In 2015,the Department of Telecommunications had come up with new norms of radiation from mobile phone towers which came into force in September 2015.
  2. And the limits on power density from mobile phone towers were restricted to one-tenth of the existing limit.
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