Non-Ionizing Electromagnetic Radiation effects on Biological Systems and Protection Methods

The INAE Governing Council during its meeting held on Dec 12, 2013 at Bhubaneswar had approved the research study proposal on “Study of Non-Ionizing Electromagnetic Radiation effects on Biological Systems and Protection Methods” for a duration of 8 months with Shri VP Sandlas, FNAE as the Principal Engineering Investigator (PEI) . The objective of the research study is to comprehensively review and define current status, internationally accepted guidelines on generation and control of electromagnetic radiations, position of related regulations in India and recommend safety levels. A Project Monitoring Committee (PMC) to monitor the research study was constituted with Dr. BN Suresh, as Chairman; and Prof. RK Mallik and Dr. Surendra Pal as Members and Shri VP Sandlas as Member-Secretary.

Electromagnetic Radiation emissions, related environmental pollutions and harmful effects on biological systems, particularly on human beings, have started engaging significant attention of the World Health Organization (WHO), medical professionals and general public during the last several years, particularly because of wide spread usage of mobile phones and related radio frequency radiation effects. Hazards of Electromagnetic Radiation (EMR) emissions and related harmful effects on biological systems, particularly on human beings, have started engaging significant attention of general public during the last few years. These emissions are synonymous with Electromagnetic Pollution, a kind of Environmental Pollution, polluting the very limited natural resource: Radio Spectrum. Till recently, continuous exposure to Electromagnetic waves (or radio waves) was localized to areas near broadcasting stations, radars, radio communication terminals, etc. – the related radiations were not adversely affecting inhabited areas and general public in residential areas, hospitals, schools, etc. The situation has changed significantly during the last few years with the proliferation of cell phones, related base station towers and other EMR sources.

Scientific studies have demonstrated short term and medium term effects of EMR on animals and human beings; children, weak or sick persons, pregnant women and small animals are particularly vulnerable. Of course, debates are going on as to whether these effects are temporary or permanent.  There is a strong feeling that even ‘global warming’ may be related to excessive radiation levels. The Indian Council of Medical Research and the World Health Organization have recommended precautionary approach in relation to the use and control of radiations and have also suggested adoption of internationally recommended acceptance standards and rules and regulations to ensure safety of general public. Some recent studies and arguments emphasize that there no such thing as safe electromagnetic radiation level. Generally accepted safe levels vary from 1 µW/m2 for sleeping areas and 10 µW/m 2 for other living and working areas to as much as 1000 µW/m2; recommending that significantly less and minimum possible level should be used for practical applications. The scope of the study is to review and bring out a report on the current status, internationally accepted and approved restrictions on generation of EM radiations, position of recent Govt. of India decisions, recommended safety levels and protection methods.

The research study has since been completed and the study report has been posted on INAE website. The report covers topics on International EMF Exposure Standards; initiation of public awareness and debate in India; PIL- Legal battle with govt. Of India; electromagnetic radiation for AC Power lines; biological effects of EMR;  EMR from base Station towers and Mobile phones; recommended guidelines, precautions and protection methods and future prospects and concluding remarks. The study report is envisaged to serve as a comprehensive reference document, particularly for non-ionizing radiation exposure.

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