By Dr. Rajat Arora
NEW DELHI–It may be amply discomforting to know that India is a country with more mobile phones than toilets. Fears have been expressed by some experts who say that radio frequency exposure may cause cancer in the long run.
There has been a lot of research undertaken by various agencies in terms of monitoring and investigating issues relating to radioactive frequencies, either through cellular phone or the microwave.
We are ever more frequently in the company of the energy fields our electronic devices, and in particular, our smart phones generate.
While there are no specific guidelines in terms of national standards of safe level exposure to radio frequency, it has now become the need of the hour as the usage of gadgets with radio frequency has increased several-folds.
The greatest and most insidious risk of cell phone use pertains to the electromagnetic fields of non-ionizing radiation they produce. When we understand the power of non-ionizing radiations in MRIs and XRays, we blissfully choose to ignore the radiations of mobile technology.
In India, the number of people who own mobile phones is greater than the number who own personal computers. There were approximately 82 million 3G subscribers in India by the end of 2014 and the number is projected to reach 284 million by end of 2017.
From 200 million internet users in 2013 to over 500 million internet users by 2017 – including 314 million mobile internet users – the growth story of mobile internet in India is on the upsurge.
Increased internet enabled device penetration, decreasing handset prices and data plans tariffs are helping create a suitable environment for a rapid growth of mobile internet in India.
But how many have really comprehended the health issues that could be an offshoot of these wireless technologies?
The ill effects of radiation from wireless devices could be understood through impairments in living cells. The metabolic imbalance caused by radiation from a wireless device could be the link to a number of health risks such as various neurodegenerative diseases and even cancer, some experts say.
While cancer could be the major hazard, the minor could include disorders such as headache, fatigue and skin irritation, which could develop after long-term exposure. Some of the effective ways to reduce exposure to radio frequency (RF) would include using speakerphone, earpiece or headset to reduce proximity to the head, and, thus, exposure.
Bluetooth headset however may be a wrong choice as they emit radiations as well. While wired earpieces may conduct some energy to the head and wireless earpieces also emit a small amount of RF energy, both wired and wireless earpieces remove the greatest source of RF energy (cell phone) from proximity to the head and thus can greatly reduce total exposure to the head.
It is important to increase the distance between wireless devices and one’s body. One may consider texting rather than talking but don’t text while driving.
Hence a precautionary approach in using wireless technologies such as cell phones and wireless internet has become imperative.
(Rajat Arora is an Interventional Cardiologist and Medical Director at Yashoda Hospitals in Delhi. The views expressed are personal.)