Establishment of more telecommunications infrastructure such as masts and base stations have raised some environmental concerns, especially in the area of Environmental Impact Assessment. It has become a part of the environment to see tall masts in different locations around the country. These masts though helpful, are believed to have negative health effects on people living near where they are erected. It is argued that telecom towers interfere with aircrafts approaching landing and feared that towers could fall on people and property.
Warnings were that mobile handsets should not be held close to the ear because the radiations could cause brain tumors, mobile handsets should not be put in the breast pocket because the radiations could affect the heart and mobile handsets should not be put in the side pocket because radiations could cause infertility in both men and women. But much later, it became clearer that the scare was a hoax, or at least had no scientific basis. Lately, attention has shifted to the hazardous effects of radiation of telecom towers on human health.
Currently, there is a huge debateon the hazardous effects of telecommunications mast to human health. Along with that some complaints about noise, vibrations and fumes from standby power generators at telecom base stations. these concerns stem from the recent proliferation of telecom masts across country, particular in residential areas, resulting from the licensing of six multinational mobile phone network operators – MTN, AirtelTigo, Vodafone, Expresso and Glo mobile in a relatively small country like Ghana. Much as telecommunication is desirable for national development.
Currently, there are more than 3,000telecom towers serving over 34 million mobile phone subscribers and experts say the number of towers is woefully inadequate to assure quality service. The erection of masts clustered in built-up areas are thus said to be hazardous. Following the fuss about the hazardous effects of radiation of telecom towers on human health and the complaints about noise, vibrations and fumes from standby power generators at telecom base stations from the populace.
There werecomplaints about noise, vibrations and fumes from standby power generators at the telecom base stations and the likelihood of causing damage to property. A woman sadly narrated how she lost her baby as result of the hazardous effect of the Phone base station on the baby’s health.
A 2002 survey study by Santini et al. in France found a variety of self-reported symptoms for people who reported that they were living within 300metres (984 ft) of GSM cell towers in rural areas, or within 100metres (328 ft) of base stations in urban areas. Fatigue, headache, sleep disruption and loss of memory were among the symptoms reported. From epidemiologic research, persons living in places where telecommunication masts are erected are vulnerable to disorders like cancer, lung diseases, sleep disturbances and even physical disabilities; though according to WHO research, there are no current scientific proofs of health hazards associated with telecommunication masts.
Student Journalist – GIJ