The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has released strategies it is adopting to minimize the effects of electromagnetic fields (EMF) radiation from telecommunication masts in the country.
This is contained in a document the telecoms regulators published on its website, being a presentation to the House of Representatives ad-hoc committee investigating the health implication of mounting telecommunication masts close to buildings.
Explaining the two types of radiation; saying that while the ionizing type of radiation is harmful and potentially lethal to living beings but have health benefits in radiation therapy for the treatment of cancer and some thyroid diseases, the NCC said the non-ionizing radiation only damages cells if the intensity is high enough to cause excessive heating.
“The lower-energy, longer-wavelength part of the spectrum including visible light, infrared light, microwaves, and radio waves is non-ionizing; its main effect when interacting with tissue is heating,” the Commission stated.
NCC says the Commission is drawing up on International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) guidelines in approving standards for telecoms masts.
TheNewsGuru reports the ICNIRP guideline stipulates that for GSM 900MHz, public exposure should not exceed 4.5MHz and occupational exposure should not exceed 22.5MHz; for GSM 1800MHz, public exposure should not exceed 9.0MHz and occupational exposure should not exceed 45.0MHz; and for WCDMA 2100MHz, public exposure should not exceed 10.0MHz and occupational exposure should not exceed 50.0MHz.
The NCC emphasizes that the minimum height for the installation of radio antenna is 24 metres; minimum distance from base of a telecoms mast to a domicile is 10 metres, and ICNIRP compliance boundary is 4 metres.
“The results of current scientific research show that there are no evident adverse health effects if [EMF] exposure remains below the levels set by current standards,” the Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR) noted.
The United Kingdom (UK) Advisory Group on Non-Ionising Radiation (AGNIR) stated that “although a substantial amount of research has been conducted in this area, there is no convincing evidence that RF field exposure below guideline levels causes health effects in adults or children”.
In regards to mobile phones and health, the World Health Organization (WHO) notes that: “A large number of studies have been performed over the last two decades to assess whether mobile phones pose a potential health risk. To date, no adverse health effects have been established as being caused by mobile phone use”.
With respect to base stations and health, the WHO notes that: “Considering the very low exposure levels and research results collected to date, there is no convincing scientific evidence that the weak RF signals from base stations and wireless networks cause adverse health effects”.
“Studies to date provide no indication that environmental exposure to RF fields, such as from base stations, increases the risk of cancer or any other disease,” it added.
The NCC said, in the pursuance of its regulatory functions in ensuring compliance with acceptable environmental, public health and safety standards, it is employing certain strategies to further minimizing the effects of radiation.
The NCC said it conducts regular measurements of EMF on base transceiver station (BTS) across the country, explaining that the results obtained so far revealed that measured radiation levels are far below ICNIRP permissible levels for occupational staff and the general public.
The NCC states other measures considered in minimizing the effects of masts radiation to include: BTS site approvals and equipment type approval.
“The main conclusion from the WHO reviews and most studies is that, EMF exposures below the limits recommended in the ICNIRP international guidelines do not appear to have any known consequence on health.
“The non-ionizing radiations from BTSs and mobile handsets do not disrupt the molecular structure of biological material in humans,” the Commission stated conclusively.