The mobile phone towers crowding the city’s skyline are making the air toxic for you.
Electromagnetic radiation (EMR) emitted from these towers is so high that four-fifth of the Capital’s area falls under the “unsafe” category, exposing Delhiites to a new kind of health threat that very few are aware of, says a study commissioned by Tehelka newspaper and carried out by Cogent, a Delhi-based company working on radiation safety solutions.
The surveyors mapped “100 radiation hotspots” in the city where EMR from cell towers was higher than acceptable.
According to established norms, the radiation level of 600 milliwatts per metre square (mW/msq) is considered safe.
Forty of the 100 spots had “extreme anomaly” in radiation levels — the levels were seven times the limit. These were “high-risk areas”. Thirty-one spots had “unsafe” radiation, with levels two to six times the safe limit, while nine spots are “borderline”—just over the limit.
The opening and closing ceremonies and the athletics competition of the Commonwealth Games, for instance, fall in “unsafe areas”. The Yamuna Sports Complex is also said to be “unsafe”.
Safdarjung Hospital, Modern School, Vasant Vihar, and Delhi Police headquarters are in the “high-risk” zone. At Safdarjung, the level was 4000 mW/msq. It was the same at Connaught Place and ISBT Kashmere Gate.
“We had got the Delhi government to stop the installation of cell towers in residential areas a few years ago. People were complaining of headache and other symptoms of radiation exposure,” said Pankaj Aggarwal, general secretary, Residents’ Welfare Associations’ Joint Front.
“There are indicative studies to prove that this radiation is harmful for people living in a 300 metre radius of the towers.”
But those who install these towers said there was no problem. “A World Health Organisation (WHO) study says that radiation from cellphone towers doesn’t harm anyone. There is no study to prove otherwise,” said K.N. Srivastava of Towers and Commercial Space Association.
There are only 20 of the 100 spots that were found to be safe. PM House, the residence of Sonia Gandhi and that of CM Shiela Dikshit are some of the “safe” areas, the study says.