Radiation fears from mobile towers unfounded: Panel

Radiation fears from mobile towers unfounded: Panel

Fears of electromagnetic radiation from cellphone towers adversely affecting human health are unfounded and without any scientific merit, claims an expert panel, brushing aside apprehensions raised by a professor of the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Bombay.

Rejecting the contention of electrical engineering professor Girish Kumar, the 13-member panel said Kumar repeatedly red-flagged these concern in the media because of his family's commercial interest in companies involved in manufacturing radiation-shielding products. Kumar's daughter Neha Kumar sells radiation-shielding products through her company NESA Radiation Solutions Pvt Ltd. The panel said the IIT professor did not disclose his “conflict of interest” while being part of the panel, though he initially agreed to do so.

“In October 2013 I disclosed my daughter's business in my newsletter, which was circulated to the committee members. What more I can do?” Kumar told Deccan Herald.

The members of the committee noted that on one hand Kumar was spreading misinformation and creating misconceptions and ill-founded apprehensions in the mind of people by sensationalising and blowing out of proportions the effects of EMF radiation, while on the other side he was promoting his family's business on related products, thus throwing professional ethics to the winds.

The committee, comprising five IIT professors, besides scientists from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Industrial Toxicology Research Centre (ITRC), Lucknow, and the Indian Council of Medical Research, along with government officials, was formed at the behest of the Lucknow bench of the Allahabad High Court, which was hearing a litigation on health hazards of cellphone towers.

The court instructed Kumar to be a part of the Department of Telecom panel, so that other scientists get an opportunity to listen to his arguments and comments.

In its report, the panel has concluded that Kumar's assertion of people living within 50-300 m of mobile towers are more prone to the dangerous ill effects of electromagnetic radiation are not backed by “conclusive scientific evidence”.

“The word 'evidence' in the draft report was replaced by 'conclusive evidence' in the final report by the committee, in which eight out of 13 persons are pro to the Department of Telecommunication. On every page, I have signed that I do not agree with the report and also on the last page, I have signed that committee was biased,” said Kumar.

“He (Kumar) may not agree, but other committee members agree that Kumar’s assertion could not be substantiated by available scientific literature,” said committee member, Ajoy Chakraborty, who is professor in the department of electronics and electrical communication engineering at IIT Kharagpur.

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