Living Near to Cellular Towers Could...

Mobile Tower and Health Impact
Just happened to witness a warm discussion about health impacts caused by mobile towers, particularly when it is installed very close to our residence. It is not surprising to see that many believes it causes cancer and trouble to new born babies.

While still the topic is under debate and many experts positioned on both sides, it is a fact that no one could prove their side. While wikipedia is clearly biased to the technology, supporters of health hazard theory could not introduce an edit to the article - which I believe is due to lack of scientific evidence.

I am trying not to be biased to either side, I am still waiting to see how the expert debate progresses, and to see some evidence evolving with a clear result to end the debate. Till then I will keep the fear to the unknown in my mind and will try to convince myself that mobile and mobile towers are safe for human health. Note that, in this article, I am very specific about "human health". There may be environmental impacts, decrease in bird population etc. which is beyond the scope of this article. Collectively we spoiled the environment and this is just one of many reasons behind that - let us think about that sometime later.

I am trapped...

There comes the question - why I try to convince in favor to the technology? Why I can't be a pessimist, try to believe they cause cancer and join with those who opposes mobile technology? Simple answer is that I feel trapped. Myself and many of those believe in health hazard theory are hard core mobile users. For obvious reasons, we can't live without it. Even if I quit, my family members are using it. Even if they quit, my neighbors from six sides are using it. As an individual, it is beyond my control and whatever I do, I will remain positioned in between mobile phones and towers, causing elecro-magnetic field penetrating my body.

Not just that, I have wifi at my home, which is again producing electro-magnetic field. Wifi was said to be safe, but now advocates of LiFi claims that lifi is safer than wifi, which implies wifi is not safe anymore. Looking around my living room, I have more such things - cordless phone, Bluetooth remotes, kid's wireless toys, walkie-talkie... Ok, forget about hi-tech - assume I escaped to a remote village with no wifi, no internet and no mobile connectivity - still I am trapped because my home is electrified, copper wires conducting medium to high current is running through every wall, resulting me sitting inside a copper coil conducting AC current - which again produces electro-magnetic field. Even though it is short in range, given that the current is much higher than typical mobile phone/tower infrastructure, I am tend to believe that it causes much stronger field than mobiles.

Now it is almost agreed that there is no escape from electro-magnetic radiation and we all are trapped. Only option to save ourselves is to live inside strong rooms with all concrete window-less walls, with no mobile phones inside. That is not going to happen.

Trapped... what next? The fear factor

As we are trapped, now we should look forward on how to manage the situation. How to address the fear and how to minimize the electro-magnetic exposure are two key points. First, to manage the fear, stop using the terminology "mobile radiation". Note that I never uses that term so far in this article - instead I always use "electro-magnetic field", which is more specific on what we are talking about. The term "radiation" will cause a lot of panic because whenever it come across that term, our subconscious mind will work on nuclear radiation. It is proven that nuclear radiation (and others under ionizing in nature) can split human DNA, causing genetic issues to new born babies and cancer to adults. However no such evidence reported so far about electro-magnetic radiation. Unfortunately, due to nuclear radiation, electro-magnetic radiation also received the blame. At high frequencies, electro-magnetic field can cause vibrations on biological cells, and as they rub each other, some heat can be produced. Same theory used in microwave oven, but considering the frequency used for mobile communication, the heat produced is not noticeable for us - particularly when we live in a hot country during global warming era. Even if you notice, that is some minor heat, and not going to cause cancer like health issues.

Next, look at highly populated cities and their residential suburbs - mobile transmission antenna density is super high there. Why so many when one tower can service 3-5 kilometers? That is due to capacity reasons. To service larger crowd, and to maintain call quality and speed, we need more transceivers.
Makes sense, but I lived in such cities and never seen a single mobile tower anywhere - why?

That is because you lived in a city with lot of high raise buildings and all these antennas are installed alongside the building exterior walls or similar places. You haven't noticed as they are not on those formal red colored towers. It was there next to your bedroom window, but you never noticed! Our takeaway is that, even in such cities (they are radiating for more than 15 years by now), no studies managed to collect any evidence against mobile radiation. That helps to control our fear about mobile radiation.

Second point was about limiting our exposure to mobile radiation. I am sure you must have already learned about techniques such as turning off mobile data, using wifi whenever possible, using headsets for longer conversations, keep mobiles away from bed room etc. You must have also learned that you should have good signal strength for maintaining lower radiation levels. Yes, your phone will adapt to signal strength in such a way that if your signal reception is poor, it will increase the transmission power so that it can reach the tower while transmitting.

Being controversial ...

In addition to all above traditional approaches, here comes something not heard much - have a tower close to your residence to reduce overall radiation impact on you! I am sure that it is hard to believe and doesn't make sense at first glance. Ok, this is not applicable globally, but to a specific scenario, where I and you are a part of. Let us look at this once again with the help of that scenario.

If you look at the tower, you can see that the number of transceivers are just few - say less than 10. Keep in mind that each cell phone is a transceiver, emitting mobile radiation omni-directional - i.e. in all directions. Assume there are 250 mobiles under that tower. If all these 250 mobiles are closer to the tower, each phone will use a low power transmission mode, resulting minimum overall radiation. The tower is still powerful than phones, but considering the lesser number of transceivers, and many other factors like the minimum distance between our physical location and tower, and existence of walls and/or trees in between tower and us, the impact of tower will be much lower than what we expect. Note that there is no wall between the phone antenna and our ear/head/brain. Therefore the radiation originating from mobile phone is much higher than what our body receives from a tower - even if the tower is nearby. I.e., keeping mobile phone radiation at minimum is more important than staying away from a mobile tower.

Second part of the scenario is, what if this campus (hosting 250 mobile phones) is far away from the tower and all phones are struggling to get some juice from the tower? All 250 phones will be transmitting at maximum power (i.e. maximum radiation per phone) and is sitting attached to our ears. Individually there is no isolation between ear and phone which is transmitting at maximum power, everyone in the same room is directly exposed to maximum radiation, and collectively all 250 phones transmitting together, that too omni-directional, forming a very high radiation zone there, where the collective radiation levels can exceed what a tower in the campus can cause. With the new lifestyle, density of mobile phones in a small area (few meter squares) is very high, and it makes that area vulnerable to very high radiation levels as compared to a village where mobile density is very low.

This made me to say that having a mobile tower nearby is safer than living in an apartment complex hosting so many weak mobile phones, in a very small foot print of few square meters. The case is specific to this scenario. On the other hand if there are very few mobile phones around you, staying away from tower will make more sense.

The conclusion is, if you spend a lot of time in a crowded area, such as a medium to large apartment complexes, or in a populated area, and if a new tower is proposed for better mobile signal, do support that. Living with a weak signal is more dangerous than having a tower nearby! Also, I am not advocating that mobile phones are safe devices - my views are mostly from the fact that there is no way to escape from them and their associated harmful effects, therefore need to accept that and try to manage the situation. Sometimes through non-conventional techniques such as embracing a mobile tower.
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