Mobile companies oppose stricter norms against cellphone radiation

Mobile phone manufacturers and cellular service providers have opposed many of the key recommendations of the government of India’s Inter-Ministerial Committee on the harmful effects of mobile radiation on human health.

The Committee started its work after an experts panel pointed to possible negative effects of cell-phone radiation on human health.

Though microwave radiation, such as cell-phone waves, do not directly change the DNA of human cells (causing cancer), they increase the ‘energy level’ of the tissue. Some scientists have said that this increases chances of DNA change, leading to cancer.

According to the Department of Telecom, mobile manufacturers — represented by the Indian Cellular Association (ICA) and the Hong Kong Mobile Manufacturers Forum, as well as the GSM operators associations, have opposed several of the representations of the Committee.

As such, the DoT said, it is yet to reach a conclusion on whether to implement the suggestions and if so, which ones.

The recommendations that India’s powerful Cellular Operators’ Association (COAI) — representing the country’s big GSM operators such as Bharti Airtel, Vodafone, Idea etc. — have objected to are the following:

1) ban on putting up mobile towers on schools and hospitals

2) reduce the power-limits of the existing cell towers by 90% “in keeping with trends in developed countries”

3) impose a limit of 1.6 watts per kg on the amount of radiation absorbed by human body from the handset

4) force handset-makers to display the absorption rate of radiation from the handset (SAR) on the device itself

5) operators should measure radiation levels at prominent places and display it to the public

6) Cell towers violating emission norms should be named and shamed by the government

In addition, the Indian Cellular Association, which represents the interests of cell-phone manufacturers and importers in India also objected to a proposal to force manufacturers to give free handsfree (earphones) with every phone, to reduce absorption of radiation by the head.

It also opposed a suggestion that ‘absorption rates’ of radiation of each model should be publicly displayed at cell-phone shops, so that consumers can buy the models which cause the least absorption into the human body.

All companies and associations agreed on some proposals, such as letting the government collect radiation data on a central server,
to conduct further studies in this region and to let the DoT bring out a book on ‘Dos and Don’ts’ for mobile users.

Interestingly, the DoT statement did not name the CDMA operators’ association, the AUSPI, as objecting to any of the recommendations. It is not clear whether the AUSPI gave any feedback to the proposals or not.


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