Microwave - and other forms of electromagnetic - radiation are major (but conveniently disregarded, ignored, and overlooked) factors in many modern unexplained disease states. Insomnia, anxiety, vision problems, swollen lymph, headaches, extreme thirst, night sweats, fatigue, memory and concentration problems, muscle pain, weakened immunity, allergies, heart problems, and intestinal disturbances are all symptoms found in a disease process the Russians described in the 70's as Microwave Sickness.
The centre has been proposed since much research on the subject has still not been able to find conclusive proof on the harmful effects ofcellphone radiation. It may also have a portable certification facility to measure and certify the level of radiation emitted by cellphones, and if at all it complies with those recommended by the central government. The announcement on the proposed centre was made on the sidelines of the Symbiosis International University's regional conference on radio science by Vidya Yeravdekar, principal director of Symbiosis, and T P Singh, director of Symbiosis Institute of Technology in the presence of scientists like Govind Swaroop and those from All India Institute of Medical Science (AIIMS) and Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU).
Swaroop and other scientists from JNU and AIIMS will be mentors of the centre and soon come up with a white paper on the funding sources of the project. The Symbiosis authorities may also approach Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and other government research organizations for funds.
Yeravdekar said the research centre would be an interdisciplinary one between the Symbiosis Institute of Health and Symbiosis Institute of Technology. "It will carry out research on the effects of radiation on human body. This will be the first such centre in this part of the country," she added.
Singh, the director of Symbiosis Institute of Technology, said though the centre would be predominantly research-based, academics would also be a part of it. "It may also have a certification facility to measure and certify the level of radiation emitted by cellphones," he added.
Swaroop said as a necessary precaution, one should not talk on phone for more than half an hour at a time and not more than four hours in a day. "Besides, the effect of cellphone towers on human health is not clear. Hence, more research needs to be undertaken. The proposed research centre will help bring out possible solutions to the issue. The students could also use the research centre to study and estimate radiation emitted by cellphones among other things," he added.
Scientists Rashmi Mathur from AIIMS, Paul Raj and J Behari from JNU, Vikass Monebhurrum from Supelec Institute Paris in France, S Ananthakrishnan, vice-president of International Union Of Radio Science (URSI), Ghent in Belgium attended the conference.
Bihari said the Union government has lowered the electromagnetic frequency (EMF) exposure limit (base station emissions) to 1/10th of the existing International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) exposure level. Any system emitting more EMF should be for public use. However, this level of exposure should be stringent for ameliorating lifestyle, he added.
Bihari said it has been difficult to estimate the 'safe' level of exposure to radiation due to limitations and the lack of definite procedures do to so, besides the lack of authenticity of measuring equipment. "Therefore, the first step is to have facilities to be able to accurately measure these waves. Secondly, monitoring the effect of this radiation on people staying around such towers on a regular basis through check-ups should also be undertaken," he said.
"The human body can absorb any radiation falling on it to a certain extent. When this level of exposure is beyond certain duration, it may have adverse effects. It can be a precursor to cancer and cause stress," Bihari said.
Paul Raj said when researchers at JNU exposed rats to various frequencies, including that of mobile and microwave radiations, for a period of 35 days for two hours a day, they found there were significant changes in the biochemical parameters of the exposed rats such as the enzymes and DNA present in their cells.
Mathur said gauging how long cellphones should be used depends on factors such as the type of instrument emitting radiations and the amount it emits, as well as how the receiver is and what diseases he or she is prone to. "Other biological factors, including the age of the receiver, if he/she is a growing child or pregnant, aged, whether he/she has been under stress and his/her nutrition level determine the amount of radiation a person can bear. If an individual is already in a compromised health condition, then he/she may be more prone to radiation," he said.