Monday, June 30, 2014

Media role vital in mobile phone radiation awareness

Media role vital in mobile phone radiation awareness

Monday, June 30, 2014
By Shwetha Kannan

Says director general of COAI, after conducting a study of people across the country, to gauge their awareness regarding mobile phone radiations

“Media plays an important role, especially the print media, when it comes to helping the common man form opinions about issues. And this stands true for the issue of mobile phones and mobile towers being a cause for causing cancer, as well,” said Rajan Mathews, Director General, Cellular Operators Association of India (COAI). The COAI has conducted a study where they came across this fact.

In a study titled 'Mobile Tower Radiation Perception Assessment Study' that was undertaken in the month of October last year, it was found that most people tend to form their opinions on important issues on the basis of what they hear or read from the media.

A total of 2,508 mobile users between 25 and 70 years of age across all sections of the society were interviewed across 19 cities in the country like Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore, Kolkata, Pune, Nagpur, Indore, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Ludhiana, Chandigarh, Ahmedabad, Bhubaneswar, Patna, Guwahati, Kochi, Vijayawada and Madurai and 401 people who can be called 'influencers' from fields of journalism, medicine, teaching as well as people holding posts of  municipal commissioner, gazetted officers in different ministries, president/secretary of housing welfare societies were interviewed from Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai and Bangalore.

The results were such that 61.6 per cent of the participants from the general group in this study said that they get reassurance of safety from mobile tower radiations when they read media reports and 69.33 per cent of the influencers had a similar opinion. Next in line were messages sent by civic bodies and messages of medical professionals.

Also, the overall awareness of a study to prove the adverse effect of mobile tower on health was only 19.5 per cent, out of which, 18.98 per cent were from the general public group while 20.2 per cent were from the influencers.

“Negative perception for mobile towers is based mostly on hearsay and not facts. This is proved by the low awareness of any norms for setting up mobile towers and any study that provesadverse effects of mobile phones. Also, media reports can be used to reinforce the belief that there is no risk from mobile tower radiations,” said  V K Cherian Senior Director, COAI.

Conducting industry/government-initiated workshops to educate the public on radiations and norms followed for tower set-up so that fear can be substituted with facts, having a sustained media campaign to reassure the public about the lack of risk from the mobile tower radiations, sending out  messages through medical professionals, use of social media to get the message through, partnership with both Ministry of health and family welfare and Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) to develop a common dialogue that will help in gaining the trust of the public, is the way forward to address the growing concern of health hazards being caused due to use of mobile phones and towers, said the survey.

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