Lies versus truth: Dangers from Cell phone Towers.

| October 24, 2012 | 9 Comments

Once again Jaipurites are witnessing that tower installed on the schools buildings as well as on the hospital buildings, are being removed as per the direction of the Hob’ble Rajasthan high court.

I had presented an article on this topic on my previous blog, which is now again presented here.

Lies versus truth: Dangers from Cell phone Towers.

Jaipurites have witnessed the whole movement initiated by the  media in Jaipur regarding  effect of radiation from mobile towers in last 6-8 months. The movement reached up to the level that the Hon’ble Rajasthan High court passed the order to remove all mobile towers from Schools buildings.

Here I would like to present an article, which is written by a senior telecom officer Sh Balbir Singh Chaudhary, on this issue of effect of radiation from mobile towers.

  • Lie is that the power radiated from tower is more than hand set but Truth is that both are equal
  • Lie is that other countries have put limit on the power radiated from towers and hand sets while Truth is that they are only on recommendation stage in a few countries and still not accepted by any country

Lies versus truth: Dangers from Cell phone Towers

Since last 2-3 years a systematic campaign has been launched in media about the dangerous “radiation” from the cell phone towers.It was called “radiation” Intentionally to scare the public. The common man links the word “radiation” with the dangerous products of nuclear accidents. The telecommunication equipments are the same all around the globe and India specific equipments are not manufactured. Other than India, this is not an issue.

It campaigners concealed the fact that the power radiated from the tower is always slightly less than the power radiated from the mobile hand set. For a two way communication, the minimum power received by the mobile hand set from the tower and, received by the tower from the hand set has to be the same. So there is no use of transmitting higher power from tower than the hand set when radio path is the same to and fro. A single tower caters for Thousands of hand sets in the service area. It can be understood that radiation from the mobile phone tower is no issue.

This radiation should have been called electromagnetic waves instead.The electromagnetic waves are identified by their frequency bands. In ascending order of frequency these are named as  medium and short wave radio, Very high, Ultra high, microwave, infrared, visible light ,ultraviolet, X-rays, gamma  rays and cosmic rays . The frequencies above visible light are capable of ionizing the matter and so, are dangerous to the DNA of living cells. Visible light and frequencies lower than it does not ionize the cells and cause damage to the cell DNA. The cell phone towers emit UHF range which is much below the heat and visible light frequencies.

Aakashwani , Doordarshan,  Department of  telecommunication, police  wirelesses, and Radars  are using  VHF, UHF and microwaves since last 30 years . The tentative level of emitted powers of existing systems is as follows;-

Door Darshan, 10-20 Kilo Watts (UHF), Aakash Wani 10-20 Kilo Watts (VHF), Satellite transmitters—5-10 Kilo Watts (Micro-Waves), Micro wave kitchen oven  1 Kilo watts, RADARS, Narrow pulses in Mega Watts, Police wireless 20-50 watts (VHF), First Generation Mobile system in New York—-250-500 Watts (UHF),

Mobile telephony, 10 Watts (UHF) per antenna.

There are thousands of maintenance officials working in above departments. They are on duty for eight hours a day and are residing in the colonies hosting these sources of UHF/VHF since last thirty years. But there is no evidence of any higher incidence of brain cancer or any other specific health problems in these departments. It can be appreciated that the power level of cell phone transmitters is negligible compared to the other services.

High power electric transmission lines, electric motors, railway engine and lines, spark plugs of vehicles, TV remotes, Computers and kitchens all emit mu UHF power. All matter at a nonzero temperature, like living animals, vegetables, electric bulb, heaters, and outer universe continuously emits a spectrum of these rays. The radiation level in the frequency ranges of cell phone from other sources in our homes was measured by field officers. The results are produced below to draw the meaningful conclusions;- ( All measurements are in milli watts)

Cell phone while ringing, =877. Power near tower in open ground (Naya Pura Kota)=2.52. Power near tube light= 1.378. Mixie= 4.175.Sun light = 1.67.100 watt bulb=1.6. Hot TAWA (plate on stove) =0.793. Fire in lighted CHULHA (wood stove)=0.450. Mobile phone radiation power in room=0.320.

It can be understood from the above measurements that mobile telephony radiation is of no significance as compared to other radiations in the same band. Media has reported measured power density in mobile telephony band between 5 to 10 watts per square meter at many congested places. Just by transmitting 10 watts or 100 watt (assuming there are ten mobile towers in area), a power density of 5 to 10 watts per square meter in a radius of 5 Km area cannot be created. It violates the principles of conservation of energy.

So where from this power has come?  And that is the catch. In a market place hundreds of mobile handsets are on. The total power density in an area due to the hand sets will be thousands of times more than the power received from the towers.

Some Ph.D aspirants have concluded that the mobile radiations affect the crops ( Moong specially), honey bees and birds lose their sense of direction and path. A lady from Bombay and a gentleman from Jaipur claim to have developed brain tumor due to the cell phone tower. Some study in a busy mall near mobile towers report irritable behavior, loss of sleep, and depression in the employees. There may be some others claiming the same from other cities. But large scale observations over last thirty years do not validate such ideas. Consider the followings;-

1)   If these cell phone towers had any adverse impact on life cells, then all bacteria, virus, fungus, protozoa, and plants near the towers would have died. Mosquitoes and flies would die or run away. The life time of these organisms and insects is few hours or few days. Millions of their generations have passed and were exposed since last 15-30 years. We would have come across many new mutated species by now. But this is not observed.

2)    In good conductors, the depth of penetration of UHF waves is micro meters. Reaching these frequencies up to the brain penetrating the skin and electrolytic fluids around the brain is not possible. Skin cancer, ear cancer, nose cancer or teeth cancer will precede the brain cancer. There are nearly 10 lakh cell phone towers in India. If we assume that each tower creates cancer in three families living nearest to them then there must be at least thrirty lakh families with brain cancer. Fortunately there is no such evidence.

3)    Observe the nearby telecom or a TV tower in the evening. It is the preferred place of resting for the birds, peacocks and eagles. The crows lay their eggs in the microwave dish antennas. So shrouds were historically used. The employees engaged in TV or telecom tower maintenance are scared of the honey bee colonies and the nests of crow on these towers. VAN- VAASIs are engaged to remove these before they climb on these.

4)     The mobile phones have penetrated every place in the country during last 15 years. There is no down fall in the total production of any crop or Moong in particular. There is no observed down fall in production of honey or in the population of birds during this period in India or around globe. So the claims of this adverse effect are against the observations.

5)     In busy malls there is a heavy flux of customers. Every new face causes secretions of adrenaline in the attendants. The irritability or sleeplessness or mild depressions are the well known consequences of the adrenaline. Some people answer 400 calls daily. This will affect their health irrespective of a mobile or a land line phone.

Will the radiation intensity reduce by reducing the number or transmission power from mobile phone towers?

Mobile telephony is a communication from tower to hand set and from hand set to tower. The hand set power is dynamically balanced. Less is the receive signal, more is the power transmitted by the hand set. The hand set typically transmit one lakh times (60 decibels) more power to what it receive. Removing the towers or reducing the transmission power to 1/10  will increase the trans power of every hand set by 10 times. If there are (say) 100 mobile phones are connected to a BTS at a given time then the total increase in the radiated power in environment due to reduction of BTS power will be 100X10 = 1000 times. If at all it is desirable to reduce the mobile radiation in environment then we should increase the number and the Trans power of BTS ten times instead of reducing it by the same.

Now let us mathematically calculate the level of power received from a mobile tower. A cell phone tower transmits a radio power of 10 Watt. (Two watts now since the hand set power is now limited to 2 watts and there is no point in transmitting more power than hand set). The antennas are used to focus this power in the desired direction. That is insignificant. Now let us mathematically calculate the maximum power which can be received by a person from the cell phone tower.

The antennas hoisted on mobile towers at a height of 40 meters and have 13 Db (20 times) directional gains. Meaning, the emitted power is increased by 20 times in the desired direction. A person at ground will be approximately 50 meters away from these antennas. If we focus this antenna on this person, then he can receive a maximum power equal to 10 X (Antenna gain=20) /(4 X pi X 50 X 50) = almost 6.4 mill watts per square meter (by spherical geometry).  If we assume a worst case of 6 different operators are working on a single tower or 6 towers standing in a row near each other , then also more than  6.4mili watt per sq meter X 6= 0.04 watt  cannot be thrown on him.

In practice, the antennas are oriented to focus the power at around 5 kilometers away from a tower for optimum coverage. In such case the maximum received power will be 10000 times lesser than the above worst case calculation i.e. micro watts.

There is no direct line of sight between the receiver and the tower in mobile communication. The signal is received after multiple reflections. In every reflection only one tenth of the signal survives. The signal inside a building is further 10 times less than outside it. Here we have ignored the power loss due to Rayleigh scattering and absorption by atmosphere. The most likely received signal will be in Peco- Watts per sq meter. 10 watt red aviation lights are installed on radio transmission towers. The red light you receive in your home due to these lights is the same amount you receive from the mobile signal. It is of no significance.

It is the right time for creating a proper public understanding of the issue before unfounded panic is spread.


By  Balbir Singh Chaudhary

Writer is a senior officer of Indian Telecommunication Services. He has an experience of nearly 25 years in dealing with radio communications.

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I am tehnocrate and love to share my views and technical knowledge on all types of topics related to telecom, social media and gadgets. I just love tea and food.

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