Category Archives: Mobile Phones

Killing us softly

The cell phone towers’ alarming electromagnetic radiation levels pose a danger to people’s health in metros

I may sound like an alarmist but these days I see more and more deadly headlines. No, I am not talking about the regular deaths in occupied Iraq and Afghanistan or even the storming of aid flotillas to Gaza. I am talking about cancer and dying birds and electromagnetic radiation (EMR) causing cancer.

Give me a minute and I will explain it all.

Recently, the World Health Organisation (WHO) announced that cancer deaths could double by 2030. Cancer could claim 13.3 million lives a year by 2030, the WHO cancer research agency has said, almost double the 7.6 million deaths from the illness in 2008. In the US, according to one New York Times columnist, 41 per cent of Americans have cancer. Isn’t this an alarmingly high percentage? The question is: why is it so high?

Next, there have been headlines about the birds and the bees: parrots dying in Australia, peacocks falling dead in north India and bees expiring in some parts of the Himalayas. According to the study by a young Indian scientist, VP Sharma, a drastic decrease was observed in the brood area and egg-laying rate per day of the queen bee in hives exposed to EMR. He also found a reduction in the pollen-carrying and returning ability of the bees. This somewhat corroborates the University of Leeds study that found an 80 per cent decline in bee diversity, from 1980 levels, in over 100 sites across the UK and the Netherlands.

I agree this is a lot of morbid news. All this might be happening for a variety of reasons which could be environment or food or radiation-related.

But the next thing I am going to talk about is definitely about radiation—a by-product of the high-tech life that we are addicted to—and its hazards. And where is this radiation coming from? From innocent looking devices such as our cell phones and the cell phone towers that help in ‘connecting people’.

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Are cell phones more dangerous than terrorists?

Is there a connection between cell phones, bees and global food security? By Zafar Anjum
17 Mar 2010

The cell phone and bees? What’s the connection, you might ask.

If you already know the connection, you are welcome to waste your time somewhere else.

If you don’t, like I didn’t, then read on. My thanks in advance for reading this piece. And apologies to those who work for mobile phone companies, directly or indirectly. Nothing personal here.

Before we explore the connection, first a little backgrounder.

I discovered the connection between the cell phones and bees while watching a Bollywood film, My Name is Khan (MNIK).

I know that sounds weird but please don’t laugh it off.

MNIK is a remarkable film (albeit with typical Bollywood songs) set in the US, kind of India’s Forrest Gump—only here the main character suffers from Asperger’s syndrome.  But like in Forrest Gump, this Karan Johar film focuses on an individual character, Rizwan Khan (played by Bollywood superstar Shahrukh Khan) who happens to be a broadminded Muslim. Rizwan, despite his deficiencies, is affable and is a great mechanic, who finds success and happiness in the land of opportunity, that is the US of A. Then 9/11 happens and his life goes topsy turvy just because he happens to have a Muslim name. The Holy Grail that Khan is after in this movie is a meeting with the US President. He wants to tell the President that though his name is Khan, he is not a terrorist.

My Name is KhanThat is the plot of the film.

But dude, where is the bee in the movie? Where is the cell phone? Good question.

No, I didn’t lose the plot. Here buzzes in the bee. In one of the scenes of the film, Khan asks another character not to use her cell phone while jogging in a park. Horrified, she asks why. Because the cell phone’s signals (radiation) confuse the bees, they forget their way back to their beehives and they die. Then he says, Albert Einstein once said that if bees disappeared, “man would have only four years of life left.”

I was stunned to know this. Was Khan joking, trying to impress the girls? Thought that this was a lie, a scriptwriter’s poetic licence.

I came home and googled it. And lo and behold, there it was: “Are mobile phones wiping out our bees?”

The story’s standfirst was: Scientists claim radiation from handsets are to blame for the mysterious ‘colony collapse’ of bees.

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There is someone more interested in your mobile phone than you are

And it’s not the cyber criminal. It’s the mobile marketer. By Zafar Anjum
15 Apr 2010

Remember the old rotary telephones or even the land line sets sitting in your drawing room? Well, they just sat there like a piece of dead furniture.

You could not carry it with you (I mean the fixed phones; cordless instruments offered some flexibility). And you didn’t do anything with it except talk through it.

All that changed with the advent of the mobile phones. Soon we learnt to do many things with the little device—talking (voice traffic) was just one of them.

The small device is now so popular with the earthlings that apparently there are more mobile users (4.5 billion) than there are owners of toothbrushes (4.2 billion). And even in developing countries like India, there is more than one device per middle class household.

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