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Opinions of Thursday, 20 August 2009

Columnist: GNA

Mobile Phone Masts Are Dangerous - The Plain Truth

A GNA Feature by Boakye-Dankwa Boadi

Accra, Aug. 20, GNA - The skyline of Accra and other major cities in Ghana is dominated by telecommunication masts of various sizes and colours. Some have red warning lights while a few others flash daylight beams at night.

The truth about these masts is that those living near them are killing themselves softly, no matter how much companies providing mobile telephone services tried to downplay the negative effects of these electromagnetic killing machines. These masts emit non-ionizing radiation that is dangerous to human beings. The Good Book in Hosea 4: 6 states: "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge ." But thank God, now knowledge is awash and anyone who seeks knowledge can have access to it by the courtesy of the Internet. One does not have to travel to China to seek knowledge as the Holy Prophet Mohammed, (may the peace of Allah be upon him) enjoined his followers to do.

This Writer sees it as a national responsibility to bring to the attention of all Ghanaians that there is now sufficient scientific knowledge to prove that mobile telephone masts are dangerous to human beings.

However, if Ghanaians decided that irrespective of the dangers these masts posed, they would still allow mobile phone masts to be mounted at their backyards, then that would be their decision - it would be a choice made with the right knowledge and not the lack of it. Surfing the Internet, this Writer came across the following: Eger H et al, (November 2004) The Influence of Being Physically Near to a Cell Phone Transmission Mast on the Incidence of Cancer, Umwelt Medizin Gesellschaft 17.4 2004: "Newly diagnosed cancers were significantly higher among those who had lived for 10 years within 400 metres of the mast, in operation since 1993, compared with those living further away, and the patients had fallen ill on average 8 years earlier. People living within 400 metres of the mast in Naila had three times the risk of developing cancer than those living further away. This seems to be an undeniable clustering of cancer cases." Augner C et al, (September 2008) GSM base stations: Short-term effects on well-being, Bioelectromagnetics. 2008 Sep 19 [Epub ahead of print]: "Participants in scenarios HM and MH (high and medium exposure) were significantly calmer during those sessions than participants in scenario LL (low exposure throughout) (P 3D 0.042). However, no significant differences between exposure scenarios in the "good mood" or "alertness" factors were obtained. We conclude that short-term exposure to GSM base station signals may have an impact on well-being by reducing psychological arousal."

Abdel-Rassoul G et al, (March 2007) Neurobehavioral effects among inhabitants around mobile phone base stations, Neurotoxicology. 2007 Mar;28(2):434-40:"Inhabitants living nearby mobile phone base stations are at risk for developing neuropsychiatric problems and some changes in the performance of neurobehavioral functions either by facilitation or inhibition. So, revision of standard guidelines for public exposure to RER from mobile phone base station antennas and using of NBTB for regular assessment and early detection of biological effects among inhabitants around the stations are recommended

Bortkiewicz A et al, (2004) Subjective symptoms reported by people living in the vicinity of cellular phone base stations: review, Med Pr. 2004;55 (4):345-51: "A questionnaire was used as a study tool. The results of the questionnaire survey reveal that people living in the vicinity of base stations report various complaints mostly of the circulatory system, but also of sleep disturbances; irritability, depression; blurred vision; concentration difficulties; nausea; lack of appetite; headache and vertigo. The performed studies showed the relationship between the incidence of individual symptoms, the level of exposure, and the distance between a residential area and a base station. This association was observed in both groups of persons, those who linked their complaints with the presence of the base station and those who did not notice such a relation. Further studies, clinical and those based on questionnaires, are needed to explain the background of reported complaints."

Santini R et al, (September 2003) Symptoms experienced by people in vicinity of base stations: II/ Incidences of age, duration of exposure, location of subjects in relation to the antennas and other electromagnetic factors, Pathol Biol (Paris). 2003 Sep;51(7):412-5: "Our results show significant increase (p < 0.05) in relation with age of subjects (elder subjects are more sensitive) and also, that the facing location is the worst position for some symptoms studied, especially for distances till 100 m from base stations." Santini R et al, (July 2002) Investigation on the health of people living near mobile telephone relay stations: I/Incidence according to distance and sex, Pathol Biol (Paris) 2002 Jul;50(6):369-73: "Comparisons of complaints frequencies (CHI-SQUARE test with Yates correction) in relation with distance from base station and sex, show significant (p < 0.05) increase as compared to people living > 300 m or not exposed to base station, till 300 m for tiredness, 200 m for headache, sleep disturbance, discomfort, etc. 100 m for irritability, depression, loss of memory, dizziness, libido decrease, etc. Women significantly more often than men (p < 0.05) complained of headache, nausea, loss of appetite, sleep disturbance, depression, discomfort and visual perturbations. This first study on symptoms experienced by people living in vicinity of base stations shows that, in view of radioprotection, minimal distance of people from cellular phone base stations should not be < 300 m."

These studies were published in important medical journals and, therefore, nobody can doubt their authenticity. There are over 60 million phones in use in the UK. Phones are being used more and more as the phone companies offer lots of free time deals. The existing mobile phone masts cannot cope with the demand, so more are being erected all over UK.

People living near masts are experiencing increasing health problems; especially sleep disruption; headaches; tiredness; behaviour changes in children; epilepsy; nosebleeds and skin complaints according to studies carried out in the UK.

One often comes across expressions like "there is no need to reinvent the wheel" and "developing countries should leapfrog". In these expressions is the hidden wisdom that a country like Ghana should learn from the mistakes of countries like UK and not repeat them. It, therefore, stands to reason that those entrusted with the responsibility of ensuring environmental integrity at the Ghana Environmental Protection Agency; National Communications Authority; Minerals Commission; Department of Town and Country Planning and the Building Inspectorate Units of various Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies must perform their duties with a large dose of patriotism.

Again one sometimes hears a piece of advice like "pe biribi ma wo mo" to wit; "find something for them" and they would give you the permit. By "peeing biribi ma wo mo" to wit "by finding something for them" we have people building in waterways; liquefied petroleum gas sales outlets among clusters of residential houses; mining companies mining in forest reserves; criminal cases not being prosecuted at the courts; electricity and water supply being extended to some houses in less than two weeks after applications are submitted with others having to wait for six months before getting their supply.

Taking a cue from the Shakespearian principle of "curing unusual maladies with unusual remedies", one would like to suggest to the National Security to put people holding such sensitive positions under its searchlight to see whether or not they are being influenced to grant permits. By so doing those with the tendency of collecting bribes or gifts would be stopped in their tracks.

This is not to suggest, however, that all those charged with such responsibilities are all wayward. Many of them are dye in the wool patriots who perform their duties with due diligence, but being humans and not angels, there are a few bad nuts among them. One can readily recall the case of the recent busting by the Police of a syndicate in one of the district assemblies that gave permit for illegal structures to be erected.

In the same way as two soccer commentators of the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation in the days gone by used to say, this Writer would like to conclude by saying: "Over to you." 20 August 09

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