Thursday, 25 April 2019

India reduces exposure limits for base stations to one tenth of international guidelines

India mobile usersThe Indian government has adopted new radiofrequency exposure limits for base stations, which are ten times lower than the guidelines recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO).


The lower limits to come into force from 1 September 2012 are based on the recommendations of a controversial report written by an Inter-ministerial Committee on EMF Radiation for the Department of Telecommunications (DoT).


The report warned the radiation from mobile phones could be a hazard to public health because they live in a tropical climate and tend to be leaner than Europeans.


“The hot tropical climate of the country, low body mass index (BMI), low fat content of an average Indian as compared to European countries and high environmental concentration of radio frequency radiation may place Indians under risk of radio frequency radiation adverse effect,” the report says.


The report says in the absence of any conclusive scientific evidence of adverse health effects on human health, India uses the same international safety limits as used in Europe, but other conditions that might have been considered like population density and socio-economic factors in India may not have been considered in this standard.


India’s Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry (ASSOCHAM) recently held a conference to discuss the regulatory changes.


TV Ramachandran, chair of the chamber’s committee on communications convergence, said industry believes in an effective system of on health information and communication designed in consensus by scientists, government, industry and public to raise the level of general understanding about the mobile communications industry, and reduce any mistrust and perceived fears.

“Science and technology offer new hazards and solutions that throw up a constant conflict between two public interests. But human health is fundamental and should be placed two steps ahead of scientific solutions,” the Minister of communications and information technology Kapil Sibal said in support of the changes.

“We have issued notification and if anybody has any concern we are willing to have dialogue,” Sibal told reporters at the conference.  However, he added "You can't ask for review merely because some experts don't agree with it.”

Paolo Vecchia, chair of the International Commission for Non-Ionising Radiation Protection, and Mr C.K. Chou, chair of the International Committee on Electromagnetic Safety for the US-based Institute of Electricals and Electronics Engineers, called for a common framework of standards to be followed globally.

The World Health Organisation also support the consistent global safety standards and have said that precautionary measures should be separate, voluntary and not undermine the science base of EME safety standards. 

The WHO said: “A principle requirement is that such policies be adopted only under the condition that scientific assessments of risk and science based exposure limits should not be undermined by the adoption of arbitrary cautionary approaches.”

AMTA Chief Executive Officer, Chris Althaus, said: “Lower safety limits are often proposed as an additional precaution, but there is a great deal of precautionary protection built into the regulation of base stations and safety limits have been developed using conservative assumptions and already include safety factors to cover any possible uncertainties.”

Also in Australia the industry incorporates technical features that minimise unnecessary exposures, provides support for health research, provides up-to-date information to consumers and the general public, and ensures that base station placements are done with transparency and consultative programs, he said.

“Arbitrarily reducing safety limits is often done as a political not scientific response to community concerns, but there is good evidence that adopting additional precautionary measures may increase, rather than decrease, public concern,” Mr Althaus said.


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