How does cellphone use or proximity to cellular transmission tower impact a woman's menstrual cycle or a man's sperm count, their sleep pattern or general behaviour?
These are some of the questions to which the Indian Council of Medical Research is seeking answers.
"Cell towers and cellphones when in use emit large quantities of radio frequency radiation, exposure to which is not good for health," says Dr M V Katoch, DG, ICMR citing the reason for beginning the investigation here.
"Excessive usage of cell phones or living close to a cell phone tower have been shown to have an adverse effect on women's reproductive and neurological health according to data generated by studies in other coutries. We want to examine if the same is true for the Indian population," he says.
Different departments of AIIMS have been roped in to conduct a study on health hazards due to excessive use of cell phones.
"The study began on May 15 and the departments of neurology, obstetrics and gynaecology have beeen asked to investigate the health hazards of excessive cellphone use," Dr R S Sharma, DDG, divison of reproductive health and nutrition, ICMR said.
Radio frequency radiation from cellular towers was, he said "an invisible threat. We have asked JNU to study the physical characteristics of cell towers in Delhi. We want to see if norms specified for setting up cell towers has been followed or not".
The ICMR has laid down strict parameters that must be followed while selecting the subjects for the study. "They must be healthy, between 18-45 years of age, working, must be putting up or working in a place which is 50 metres away from cell tower and 10 metres away from a high tension line," Dr Sharma said.
Citing an example, he said, "Department of neurology will select subjects from patients that come to them. They will examine the sleep pattern and overall behaviour of people who use cell phones for two to four hours a day, compared to heavy users who use the cellphone for more than four hours a day. Both male and female users will be studied".
The department of obstetrics and gyanecology will probe the possible effect on the menstrual cycle of female users. Their hormonal profile will be prepared and blood cells
studied to see if excessive exposure to radiation turns healthy cells cancerous.