Mail Today, Monday, August 3, 2009 Page 13 Radiating slow death Cellphone radiation can cause irreparable harm to you IMAGINE a life without WiFi Internet, microwaved food, laptops and mobile phones. Now, imagine living with an invisible, dense fog that damages your brain, heart, lungs, eyes, thyroid gland and nervous system, besides risking your pregnancy and sending you into depression. Plenty of research has been done on the dangers of the ‘electro-smog’ that is enveloping us steadily in our increasingly wired world. Mobile phone companies and service providers challenged all research claims except the ones on radiation. Now, an IIT-Bombay professor, Girish Kumar, and his daughter Neha, who has done B.Tech in biotechnology, have put together the research data to highlight the damage done by the radiation that is necessary for a cellphone to function. WHAT IS MICROWAVE RADIATION? These are electromagnetic waves with frequencies in the range of 1,000-3,00,000 MHz. All transmitting towers, such as AM and FM towers and TV and mobile phone towers, emit microwave radiation. So do wireless computers, cordless phones and their base units, cellphones and all other wireless devices, as well as home appliances like the microwave oven >>WHY SHOULD WE FEAR IT? Microwave radiation can have thermal and non-thermal effects. THERMAL EFFECT| Just as the water content in any food heats up almost immediately when put inside a microwave oven, body fluids absorb microwave radiation from the atmosphere. The effect on the brain, made up 90 per cent of water, is more pronounced NON-THERMAL EFFECT| This relates to cell membrane permeability. Current safety standards are purely based on the thermal effect — ignoring the non-thermal effects >> >> HOW DOES IT EFFECT US? The radiation can cause a host of debilitating illnesses including brain tumour, acoustic neuroma, lymphoma, decrease in immune function, sleep disorder, anxiety, autism, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, cataract, hypothyroidism, diabetes, malignant melanoma, testicular cancer, heart attack and strokes in young people. Children are even more vulnerable as their skulls are thinner and their nervous systems are still developing >> HOW CAN WE PROTECT OURSELVES? Minimise time on cellphone and use briefly when you have to Don’t call when the signal is weak Hold the phone away from the body while calling Use headsets with a plastic airtube between the earpiece and the phone Use a loudspeaker phone Avoid WiFi connections Avoid cordless phones Stay away from radiation towers >> ARE ALL APPLIANCES EQUALLY DANGEROUS? No. Radiation absorption by the human body is called the specific absorption rate (SAR) and is measured in watts per kg of tissue (W/kg). Every mobile phone comes with an SAR rating. Radiation depends on the phone’s design, antenna and how it is used. Thermal effects occur when the body’s energy absorption exceeds an SAR of 4 W/kg. But non-thermal effects beginning from 0.1 W/kg can harm MOBILE PHONE MODEL (W/KG) Motorola V195s Nokia E710 LG Rumor 2 Sony Ericsson W350a Samsung Instinct Samsung Soul Nokia 9300 SAR OUTPUT 1.6 1.53 1.51 1.48 1.46 0.24 0.21 It can lead to cancer and heart damage Prof Kumar, who tracked his bloated fingers to the extraordinary radiation in his study, found that IIT Bombay, despite its dense foliage, could not block the radiation from a cluster of transmitting towers. This spurred him to look up available literature on the subject. There are a number of studies which have sought to establish a link between mobile phones and brain tumours, sleep problems and hearing loss. The report compiled by Neha and Prof Kumar, who has invented a device to block radiation, also looks at other lesser known effects. A paper published by Prof Henry Lai and N.P Singh in 1995 . documented DNA damage in the brain cells of rats exposed to cell phone radiation. But the paper was contested by cellphone manufacturers. Other studies found that mobile phone radiation can cause irreparable damage to the DNA. According to Prof Kumar’s report, when the DNA is damaged faster than it can be repaired, it can lead to cancer. Yet, rather than advocating dumping cellphones, Lai said, “If THE SILENT KILLER THE CONVENIENCE OF USING ELECTRONIC GADGETS COMES AT A HIGH COST. HERE IS A LOOK HOW By Seema Kamdar in Mumbai the results are confirmed in further studies, we can engineer our way out of the problems, just as we engineered the technology in the first place.” Hungarian scientists found a 30 per cent drop in sperm count in frequent mobile phone users. Not just using a mobile phone, but also carrying it in pocket could affect a man’s sperm count and the sperm motility (speed of movement). Some doctors in South Germany found that people living close to two transmitter antennas installed in 1993 and 1997 faced three-times the risk of cancer than those living 400 metres away from it. Data was gathered from nearly 1,000 patients who had been living at the same address for 10 years. The study showed that radiation within the 400 mradius of the towers was 100 times higher compared to the outer area. Another French study showed that people living within 300 metres of a base station reported increased incidence of fatigue; those within 200 metres had more headaches, sleep disturbance, and discomfort; and those within 100 metres reported irritability, depression, loss of memory, dizziness and drop in libido. Women were found to have more symptoms than men. Developed countries like Sweden, France, Germany, Italy, Greece and Israel are facing the aftermath of radiation. For example, the advent of the new third generation wireless phones (and related community-wide antenna RF emissions) prompted several complaints of illness in the Netherlands. A 1998 survey by the California department of health services indicated that 1,20,000 Californians, and by extrapolation one million Americans, were unable to work because of electromagnetic pollution. Overpopulated Mumbai, too, has its own share of microwave radiation. The safe limit of radiation for human beings is 100 microwatts per square metre. Prof Kumar’s study revealed that several residential areas had more than 1,000 microwatts per square metres. He said, “The blood-brain barrier, or tight junctions between adjacent cells of capillary walls, let only nutrients pass through from the blood to the brain while keeping out toxic substances. However, a research by Swedish neurosurgeon Leif Salford on microwave radiation showed albumin, a protein, managed to penetrate the barrier and damage the brain.” The work of Allen Frey and others indicates that microwave radiation damages similar mechanisms that protect the eye and the foetus, Prof Kumar’s report says. King Khan too gets bogged down by superhero tag PARVEEN NEGI By Prashant Singh in New Delhi HE IS the full entertainment package and that’s what makes Shah Rukh Khan a brand par excellence. So, if SRK calls himself the “biggest superhero” in India, no one bats an eyelid. But sometimes the “superhero” too feels the pressure. “At times, I feel weighed down by all the titles bestowed upon me. For instance, it makes me slightly old if I am called Datuk Padma Shri Dr Shah Rukh Khan. But nonetheless, such honours bring a lot of joy,’’ says Khan. In town recently as a quizmaster for Indian Institute of Planning and Management, SRK says, “I want a certain level of maturity but I still want to be foolish.” “I want my kids to look at me as ‘old’ and ‘mature’,” SRK adds. However, when it comes to movies, the superstar is very serious. He says his next film, My Name Is Khan, is “different and interesting”. “It deals with a problem of how the world is breaking into factions. It’s not about terrorism, destruction or Muslim anger. The film explores misconceptions ‘I want a level of maturity but still be a little foolish’ about religion, creed, caste and family through the eyes of an autistic man,” said the actor. Shah Rukh has high expectations from My Name Is Khan, especially since it’s been bought by Fox Studios for Rs 100 crore. “I think association with Fox is going to Shah Rukh Khan at an event in Delhi. be wonderful because it will be the first Bollywood film produced in India but released and distributed like Hollywood films,” said Shah Rukh. The picture though is not very rosy about SRK’s other passion – his Indian Premier League team — Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR). “Besides picking up captain and coach, we will also try to come up with a winning formula in our next meeting on August 4,” he said. SRK denied that Sourav Ganguly had been selected as the captain. SRK is also excited about playing a superhero in his VFX-laden home production, Ra.One, despite experiencing pain. But doctors have advised Shah Rukh to avoid doing action sequences for at least two months. Well, if you happen to be India’s biggest star, your life will surely be full of action — on screen or off it.