News Column

Controversy On Mobile Phones Hazard

August 13, 2014

Funmi Falobi



Of late, the issue of health hazard arising from the use of mobile phones has taken the centre stage in public discourse.

The Minister of Communication Technology, Dr. (Mrs.) Omobola Johnson stoked the fire of controversy when she refuted the claim that the use of mobile phones may cause cancer.

Recalled that at the launch of the Etisalat flagship store held in Abuja recently where the minister was represented by Mrs. Ngozi Ogunjiofor, deputy director, Department of Posts and Telecommunications, she was quoted as saying that the use of mobile phone could cause cancer.

She had said, "the most dangerous and important element in the communications sector are mobile phones because of the health and other related risks they pose.

Some radioactive elements in the mobile phone might affect the body and cause cancer and other health challenges.

Radiation from phones can cause problems and this is why we are advising the public not to bring phones close to their body or use in the rain.

Radio waves produced by mobile phones could interfere with important electrical equipment such as telecom masts, monitors, hospital equipment and electrical systems on airplanes and that is why the ministry made it mandatory for operators to install their masts five kilometers away from residential areas."

According to her, "dangerous driving is caused by mobile phones and it is important for operators to also enlighten the public on the risks because this will also help members of the society to enjoy their lives.

Mothers should not allow their children to play with mobile phones, especially when they are not of age and are not well educated on the use of it."

But the ministry had come out to describe the statement as a misinformed view of the deputy director that has not been scientifically proven.

The Special Adviser on Media to the minister, Mrs. Efem Nkanga, described Mrs. Ngozi Ogunjiofor's statement as a personal opinion that does not represent the position of the Minister or Ministry of Communication Technology.

Nkanga enjoined Nigerians to disregard the caution on the use of mobile phones as various researches conducted by international organisations on the safety of mobile phones use till date remain inconclusive.

Throwing his weight behind the minister, telecommunication expert, Titi Omo-Etu said, "Of course I do agree with the minister. Who told you people all these annoying claims on issues that we have repeatedly corrected over several years."

Telecommunication experts have maintained that the use of mobile phones do not have proven health hazard on people. Indeed studies to date provide no indication that environmental exposure to radiofrequency fields, such as from base stations, increases the risk of cancer or any other disease.

But the medical fields continue to disprove the claim stressing that the radiation from the use of mobile phones has health implication.

According to medical practitioners, exposure to the radiofrequency (RF) fields emitted by mobile phones is generally more than a 1000 times higher than from base stations, and the greater likelihood of any adverse effect being due to handsets, Based on mixed epidemiological evidence on humans regarding an association between exposure to radiofrequency radiation from wireless phones and head cancers (glioma and acoustic neuroma), radiofrequency fields have been classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer as possibly carcinogenic to humans (Group 2B).

Scientists have reported other health effects of using mobile phones including changes in brain activity, reaction times, and sleep patterns though these effects are minor and have no apparent health significance.

Consequently, Dr. Mike Okeji, President, Association of Radiographers of Nigeria (ARN) refutes the claim that mobile phones do not have health hazard. According to him, "It's not true. It does have effect.

There are facts that it's not true, there are documents that show it causes harm to the body."


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Source: AllAfrica


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