By Emmanuel Elebeke
FOR mobile phone subscribers who still fear that the Electromagnetic Radiation emitting from the mobile phone could be harmful, the Workshop last week on the realities of mobileÂ Electromagnetic radiation on health brought a relief.
The workshop at least proved up to eighty percent that since the mobile phones allowed into the country by Nigeria Communication Commission NCC and the base stations conform with the international standards, phone users and people near base stations can be said to be safe.
Different speakers and resource persons at the workshop turned in research works supporting a hazzard-free mobile phone in terms of electromagnetic radiation.
Rising from a one day forum entitled â€œMobile phones, Base Stations and Health Concernâ€ in Lagos organized by ITWorld International Magazine, industry egg heads, operators, dealers and consumers use the occasion to bringÂ to an end the lingering fears and speculations that emissions from mobile phones and base stations could cause harmful effects on the users.
The forum which also attracted health specialists provided a platform for the professionalsÂ to ex-tray the issue andÂ possible health hazards it could generate toÂ the users of mobile phoneÂ and those living close to the base stations, with several instances of research works and findings from renowned world researchers and World Health Organization.Â In his presentation, the Executive Vice Chairman of Nigeria Communication Commission NCC, Engineer Ernest Ndukwe said as an issue of general interest, there couldnâ€™t be a best time to discuss itÂ well than now and described theÂ theme as apt and timely.
Relying on the Act establishing Nigeria telecommunications and the NCC, the EVCÂ said the commission as a regulatory body saddled with the responsibility of ensuringÂ public safely and general well being of phone users in the country was ever ready and committed to playing by the rule. He said the ActsÂ extensively providedÂ for the safety protection of the consumers and mandated the commissionÂ to pursue same in a diligent manner. He wonderedÂ how access to information which he saidÂ Nigerians clamored for with the all time recordsÂ boom could suddenly become a subject of public concern, when development in the sector had escalated facility development in other segment of the economy, describingÂ it as a paradox.
Ndukwe who was visibly worried about the speculation maintained that neither mobile phones nor base stations could cause harm to the users, addingÂ that the total amount of electromagneticÂ field EF generated from all theÂ base stations presently installed in Nigeria fall far below what is required to have a good and comprehensive radio coverage of the country.
Also relying on recent reported test results on effect of EF, the EVC said â€œradiation emitted by a single base station is far smaller than the radiation from a TV antenna. Buttressing the position based on a recent survey conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO) which reported that Radio Frequency RF exposures from base stations rage from 0.002 per cent to 2 per cent of the levels of international exposure guidelines, Ndukwe said â€œRF exposure from base stations and wireless technologies in publicly accessible areaÂ normally thousands of times below international standards. Quoting an independent expert group on mobile phones in the UK Ndukwe saidÂ â€œthere is no general risk to the health of people living near to base stations where the exposures are only small fractions of international guidelines.â€
He submissionÂ from most research conductedÂ in the industry however was that â€œ no conclusive evidence of harm or danger had been associated with mobile technology, whether through masts or mobile handsets.â€
While calling for a collective efforts and stricter measures to securing the various entry points in the country to save genuine products from been shortchanged by fake and smuggled brands.
In his submission, President of Association of Licensed Telecomm operators of Nigeria (ATCON), Engr. Gbenga Adebayo the ATCON was not unmindful of the public anxiety over the safety of Base Stations and other mobile telecommunications infrastructure in Nigeria andÂ blamed the fear on lack of credible information on the health implications of the telecom installations in the public domain.
Adebayo who pledged the allegiance of telecom operators in the country towards ensuring the safety of their consumers, insisted that the levels of radio frequency RF exposure from Base Stations and wireless networks are so low that the temperature increases are insignificant and do not affect human health.
â€œAn average human is exposed to lower levels of emission from cellular infrastructure similar to emission from domestic appliances such as Microwave Oven and television receivers,â€ Adebayo said
Wondering why the apprehension about the emission, Engr. Adebayo said â€œmobile phones and Base Stations emit radio signals that travel through air as electromagnetic energy. Household appliances such as transistor radio receiver sets, television set, remote controls, remote door locks, light bulbs computer systems.
and microwaves ovens also emit electromagnetic energy that similarly travel through the air.
These emissions from these household appliances are as well as those from cellular phones and Base Stations fall under the category of non-ionizing emission which are safe for humans.â€
However, former minister of information and Communication, Engr. Olawale Ige saw no reason for the panic and said â€œthere is no known conclusive scientific evidence at present to indicate radiation from mobile phones and telecommunications masts could cause such dangerous diseases as cancer among humans.
Earlier in his welcome address, the Editor ofÂ ITWord Magazine, Enyi Moses said the essence of the forum was to bring together stakeholders, scientists, captains industry, consumer organizations, standard makers, and many others to deliberate on the health concernsÂ to rest the increasing public interest in mobile phones, based stations and radiation occasioned by what he called abysmal ignorance of people on the modern telecommunications tools.
With the successful deliberations, inputs and suggestions made towards protecting the Nigerian consumer, it is only necessary that mobile phones and all technology tools are well scrutinized. Efforts should also be made to get the consumers adequately informed of the health risks from exposure to mobile technology, where it exists.