LAHORE - Increased signal strength of cell phone towers at different jails of the Punjab can cause cancer among the locals, said medical experts and international studies. Cellular companies have increased signal strength of their antennas installed near jails to counter the cell phone jammers installed at different jails of the province by the jail management. As per a study conducted in Brazil, more than 81 percent of people who die in Belo Horizonte by specific types of cancer live less than 500 meters away from the 300 identified cell phone antennas in the city. Scientists found between 1996 and 2006 in Belo Horizonte, a total of 4,924 victims within 500 meters and 7,191 within 1,000 meters died of cancer types that may be caused by electromagnetic radiation, such as tumors in the prostate, breast, lung, kidneys and liver.
The researcher claims that the antennas of the devices themselves are also dangerous. But cellular companies in Punjab have installed their antennas much closer to jails premises. A representative of National Radio and Telecom Corporation (NRTC) said that normal signal strength of a cell phone tower is -60 db but most of the companies have increased this strength to -30 db only to counter the jammers installed at different jails.
Adilza Condessa Dode, UFMG researcher and coordinator of the Brazilian study, also recommended the use of a cellular headset by keeping the unit away from the body, and to banning the use of mobile phones by children and in places such as schools and hospitals.
A growing number of organisations and many more studies support the conclusions of the Brazilian study. This study covers just one city but residents of other cities in Brazil and elsewhere in the world too are vulnerable the radiation emitting towers. The International Association for Research on Cancer (IARC), based upon findings from research conducted by an international think tank, came to the conclusion that radio frequency radiation, including the radiation spewing from cell towers, is a possible carcinogen – a radiation, substance or radionuclide that is an agent directly involved in causing cancer.
Apart from cancer, cell phone antennas can cause certain other diseases and medical conditions including genetic mutations, memory disruptions, hindered learning, ADD, insomnia, brain disorders, hormonal imbalances, infertility, dementia and heart complications. A jail officer said that there are number of cell phone antennas installed much closer to jails premises and only in Lahore two antennas are installed within just 30 meters from the jails while six antennas are installed within 100 meters perimeter. Punjab Inspector General Prisons Mian Farooq Nazir said that cellular companies had increased their signals strength at Sheikhupora jail where mobile phone services were also affected in adjacent premises of district courts. The issue was taken up with Punjab government and after that signal strength was made normal by the cellular companies.
He said that earlier jail management had installed imported phone jammers at Kotlakhpat jail which could not function any longer. Ultimately Punjab government purchased the same from NRTC Haripur. IG Prisons said that government has formed a committee to monitor the functioning of jammers which comprises representatives from Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), Frequency Allocation Department (FAD), (NRTC), Prisons department and Punjab Information Technical Board (PITB). A professor doctor in Radiology seeking anonymity said that there was insufficient research done on effect of electromagnetic fields on human body. He however, said though rays of cell phone towers were less harmful than that of X-rays and Gama Rays, their increased amount could harm the human body.