In These New Times

A new paradigm for a post-imperial world

A towering problem for birds and bees

Posted by seumasach on October 20, 2011

And so the whole world is one big animal experiment, with us included!

Times of India

18th October, 2011

KOCHI: They don’t use cell phones; yet they may be its worst victims. Next time you read a report on birds falling prey to radiation and consequently getting sick, you might as well guess that a cell phone tower could have caused it. It is not just humans but birds and bees too are beginning to feel the impact of ‘electro-smog’, the pollution from the electromagnetic fields (EMF).

Unlike most other known pollutants,electromagnetic radiation (EMR) is not readily perceivable to human sense organs and hence not easily detectable.

“There is no doubt that birds move out of their favourite areas when they sense undue pressure or get wrong signals from nature. It would be better if towers are not set up in places where birds congregate,” V S Vijayan, ornithologist and former chairman of Kerala State Biodiversity Board, said.

He was commenting on the study released by the Ministry of Environment and Forests which found that EMR from mobile towers was interfering with the biological systems of birds.

The report which called for a law for the protection of flora and fauna stated that existing literature showed that EMR are interfering with the biological systems in more ways than one.

The Environment Ministry had constituted a 10-member committee headed by Asas Rahman, director, Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) to formulate guidelines for the installation of mobile towers.

“There should be a rule to avoid setting these towers near the wetlands and dense forests which are often the breeding centres of several species. We have seen the impacts of towers on herons and water fowls,” he said.

Stating that much needs to be done to formulate guidelines on the impact of communication towers on birds and animals, Dr Vijayan said that there were studies which had proved that radiation from towers had affected the reproductive system of rats.

The MoEF expert group reviewed 919 studies done in India and abroad on the ill-effects of mobile towers in animal, birds and insects.

Of the 919 studies, the team found that 593 showed the negative impact of mobile towers on birds, bees, human, wildlife and plants.

The WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) had in a recent study this year classified electromagnetic fields from mobile phones and other sources ‘possibly carcinogenic to humans’ and advised the public to adopt safety measures to reduce exposures, like use of hand-free devices or texting.

Nearly 800 million Indians have mobile phones, making it the second largest mobile phone-subscriber population in the world after China.

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