Mobile radiation: ICMR study to take another five years

New Delhi :A study to assess the adverse effects of mobile phone radiation on human health being conducted by ICMR is stuck for the last five years, with the body yet to enroll 2,500 subjects for the research which might take another five years to conclude.

The study being conducted at a cost of Rs two crore per year by Indian Council of Medical Research was initiated in 2010 and was intended to wrap up in five years.

It was initiated on the directions of Health Ministry after a petition was filed by the National Human Rights Commission highlighting alleged failure of the government in protecting the health of the citizens residing in the vicinity of mobile towers.

The research aims at finding if there is a correlation between Radio Frequency Radiation emitted by cell phones and relay towers and human health.

“This is a very comprehensive and laborious study and is still going on. It was initiated in 2010 and we wanted to complete it in five years with a target population of 4,500 subjects of whom 2,500 are yet to be selected. We could not enroll the total subjects,” a senior ICMR official said.

There are seven departments of ICMR working on the study including cancer, oxi-gynaecology, neurology, biochemistry, cardiology, besides AIIMS. The study has been divided into two parts—adverse impact of radiation emitted by mobile phones and cell phone towers.

“All these departments have to be equipped. So it took more than one year to start the study. We took a lot of time to enroll the subjects. We followed around 2000 subjects for three years,” he said. He said a major challenge in the research is to meet the conditions for subject selection in the target population.

“The conditions for subject selection are very stringent. For instance, people who are residing near or whose offices are close to cell phone towers cannot be enrolled, even the people who are working in offices where their wi-fi source is within a distance of 10 metres cannot be registered,” he said. The official said data related to around 2,000 subjects have been collected.