Dubai: Though there is no concrete evidence of health risks related to mobile phone masts, experts continue to investigate.

Michael Clark of the National Radiological Protection Board, UK, told Gulf News in a phone interview that there is no hard evidence that phone masts located in residential areas affect health.

Clark and Sir William Stewart, Chairman of the Health Protection Agency and Chairman of the Independent Expert Group on Mobile Phones and Health, were asked by the UK government to undertake research on the health effects caused by mobile phone masts due to public concern.

Paradox of concern

"There are no health risks involved with mobile phone masts. There is a big study at the moment regarding health risks from mobile phones, however phone masts show nothing cancerous or medically risky," said Clark.

Clark described the topic as a "paradox of concern" since from a scientific sense holding the phone close to ones ear is far more harmful than a mast. He believes the whole phone mast issue is psychological since radio waves have existed for hundreds of years whereas mobile phones are in comparison, a new invention.

"You obviously need networks, thus phone masts are necessary if you have a mobile phone. Phones are generally new and people are still alarmed with the idea of holding a transmitter close to the head, which they should be. However phone masts are not a concern," he said.

However, experts in the UAE show a concern regarding mobile phones and masts. Najam Ali Mirza at the Shaikh Hamdan Award for Medical Sciences in Dubai, believes that "scientific evidence" regarding mobile phones or masts doesn't prove anything, as most real research carried out is done by the industry itself. "Some of us can actually feel pain even when putting mobiles to our ear, let alone next to a mast. If they're perfectly safe, how come mobile companies also sell us "radiation guards," said Mirza.

Arguments for and against exposure

  • There is no known risk from being near a phone mast. Radio waves have been around for 100 years or more, and the power of signals from TV stations and radio stations broadcasting thousands of watts is two or three orders of magnitude higher than the 100W limit of a modern mobile phone mast - but TV signals don't harm people.
  • The risk from using mobile phones could be higher, because the amount of radio signal you're exposed to from a phone right next to your head is much higher than from a mast down the road.
  • Since children have smaller heads and thinner skulls than adults, it is conceivable that they are more vulnerable to the heating effect of mobile phones, and therefore, a sensible parent will try to limit their exposure.
  • Campaigners claim that the pulsing waves from the masts interfere with electrical signals in the body, damaging the immune system. Especially significant among children, since they have thinner skulls that are still forming and tests have shown they absorb more radiation than adults.
  • Source: BBC/ Newswireless