Mobile Chiefs Seek to Allay Fears Over Phone Radiation

Staff Writer

Major mobile providers rejected claims that their network transmission equipment causes a risk to human health, nonetheless vowing to invest significant efforts to investigate the high radiation levels in certain areas of St. Petersburg.

Heads of the big three mobile operators, MTS, VimpelCom and MegaFon, met Thursday with members of the public to discuss the question of transmitter base stations set up in residential areas.

Many have accused the stations of attracting unnaturally high levels of radiation, which has allegedly had a detrimental effect on people's health, including loss of hair and increased cancer risks.

Nikolai Demenchuk, deputy head of MegaFon Northwest, and Igor Zarudnev, head of VimpelCom (brand name BeeLine) in St. Petersburg, said that the operators already monitor the effects base stations have on the health of local residents.

"Our specialists always look at the radiation coming off the stations, and usually we prove that these stations do not have an effect on health," Zarudnev said, as cited by Interfax.

"It is possible, however, that the electromagnetic waves that base stations radiate can affect health in cases where other factors are involved - such as in areas with poor ecology. And we are ready to take part in research on this issue," Zarudnev said at the meeting, which was organized by Sotaweek analytical and research agency.

Research conducted by Sotaweek found the amount of radiation given off by base stations in Russia is largely under the legal safety requirement levels. Federal regulations allow up to 0.1 watts per square meter of electric radiation in places where people may spend a whole day. The level is allowed to rise to 1 watt per square meter in places where people would not spend more than 2 hours.

Sotaweek data, presented at the meeting, showed that radiation levels close to base stations reached 0.5 to 0.7 watts per square meter, yet they fell to 0.01 watts per square meter on the top floors of high-rises, the roofs of which accommodate mobile network base stations.

"This research was done to measure the actual levels of radiation from [mobile network] antennas and base stations, and to inform both sides of the debate about this," Denis Kuskov, head of Sotaweek, said Thursday after the meeting.

Kuskov added that base stations emit much less radiation than TV antennas, the levels of the latter often being several times higher than legal requirements.

In addition, Zarudnev pointed out that high-riser tenants themselves decide whether to allow a mobile network antenna or base station on top of their apartment block or not.

"It's simple to demand for all those stations to be taken down from residential houses, but then you will have a drop in the quality of the mobile networks, and that solution won't win any votes among the population either," Zarudnev said.

Mobile phone providers agreed that a possible solution may be to work with the government and concentrate on further research in the field of electromagnetic radiation.

© Copyright The St. Petersburg Times 1993 - 2005


And the usual non sequitur!

"Our specialists always look at the radiation coming off the stations, and usually we prove that these stations do not have an effect on health".



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