Monday, August 17, 2009

Experts allay fears on phones, base stations radiation

Experts in the Information and Communications (ICT) sector in Nigeria, last weekend, maintained that there is no known effect of electromagnetic radiations from base stations and wireless networks, report CHARLES OKOH & GERALD OKOLIE.

Those who commented on the subject included the Executive Vice Chairman (EVC), Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Dr. Ernest Ndukwe, chairman, Association of Licensed Telecomm Operators of Nigeria (ALTON), Mr Gbenga Adebayo and Dr. Abbas Abdus-Salam of the Department of Radiotherapy, University of Ibadan.

They were in agreement that the fears of some Nigerians on the effect of electromagnetic radiations from base stations and wireless networks are yet to be scientifically justified.

Equally, they were in tandem in saying there is no sufficient evidence to show that they are harmful.

Dr. Ndukwe told participants at the forum on Mobile Phones, Base Stations and Health concerns held in Lagos, that in the past the fear had been with the use of mobile phone sets but it has now shifted to base stations.

The NCC boss said that presently there are 15,000 base stations in the country, and that the figure still falls below what is required to cover the nation, stressing that the radiation emitted from the installations is smaller than the one from television antenna, and other household appliances like microwave oven, television sets, computers and the likes.

Also speaking, chairman ALTON, Mr. Adebayo, said base stations are required to transmit and receive radio signals from mobile phones and other wireless devices, without them it would be impossible to make or receive calls and maintain the call as people move around.

“The system of mobile communications sustains our calls by handing us (our mobile phones) over from the current base station to the next one in the vicinity. If there is no base station in a vicinity, subscribers cannot be connected, and that underscores the need to have these installations near us in order for us to be connected with mobile phone services,” he said.

On its safety, Adebayo said the emissions from base stations and other household appliances as well as those from cellular phones fall under the category of non-ionizing radiation which are safe for humans.

The ALTON boss pointed out that much of the apprehension is caused by either lack of information or outright misinformation in some quarters.

“There is no known conclusive scientific evidence at present to indicate that radiation from mobile phones and telecommunication masts could cause such dangerous diseases as cancer among humans,” he stressed.

In his contribution, Dr. Abbas Abdus-Salam of the Department of Radiotherapy, University of Ibadan, stressed the need for caution, saying that even though there are no conclusive evidence yet, subscribers should be careful of the quality of handsets they use as well as restrict the time used making calls.

Dr. Abdus-Salam said since most of the researches relied upon were carried out abroad and given the peculiar environment where all kinds of equipments come, in there is a need for the people to avoid low quality phones and that children should be restricted on the use of mobile

Earlier in his address, the convener of the forum and chief executive officer of ITWorld International Magazine, Mr. Enyi Moses, said the decision to organize the public forum follows increasing public interest in mobile phones, base stations and radiation.

He said while available scientific evidence does not show that any health problems are associated with the radio waves from mobile communications, some people still express their worries.

These worries, he said, have been addressed by World Health Organisation (WHO) and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

“As with many new technologies, concerns have arised about the effects on health from using a mobile telephone. So far, the World Health Organisation Task Force on EMF (Electromagnetic field) effects on health has no definitive conclusion on the veracity of these allegations,” he said.


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