Telecom masts and you

in STEMGeeks3 months ago

You are the firstborn and the only son in a monogamous family of, let's say 8. You are in a third-world country where the family's basic needs are yet to be met. Your household lives from hand to mouth every day of the year. Your parents are growing old and pressure is mounting on you, as the firstborn and only son, to start providing for the family. You are a graduate of a reputable university in your country, but getting a job has been an exercise in futility. The only option left is for you to venture into business. Even then, you need capital to start with. Everything just looks bleak.


The base of a telecom mast showing a diesel-powered generator being used to supply electricity to the mast.

The 3-bedroom flat your parent managed to build with their gratuities is located on two plots of land. The building is a setback with ample space at the front. On this fateful day, some strange people knock on the door of your house demanding that they see your dad. Upon inquiring further, you got to know that they are representatives from a big telecom provider in your country. They have surveyed the environment and found the ample space in your compound suitable for locating one of their masts.

Suddenly, all you see is a light at the end of the tunnel. If everything goes well, your family will likely get millions in local currency as rent on the space where the mast will be located. This looks like an opportunity to move from living from hand to mouth to the middle class.

But what if your dad objects to the proposal and will not have anything to do with it? His reason is that telecom masts are like slow poisons. They gradually kill the living organisms around their environment directly or indirectly.

You won't believe your dad's concerns are valid. There are telecom masts all over town with many located within residential areas and there have been no reports of health issues related to the effects of the masts whatsoever.

Do telecom masts have environmental/health impacts?

If you consider that lands are cleared to locate masts and several species of plants and animals are cleared along, you will know that the question of whether masts have environmental impacts is a rhetorical one.


The trunk of a telecom mast.

In Nigeria, to be more specific, masts are generally run using generators. Thus, noise pollutions are one of the trademark signatures of telecom masts around here. In addition, the oil spillages that are bound to occur during generator refilling and servicing have their own impacts on the environment.

All the impacts listed above are not even part of the concerns raised against telecom masts by your dad. His concerns allude to the potential of telecom masts to emit radiations that could be detrimental to the health of living organisms, including humans, in the long run.

It is an established fact that telecom masts emit electromagnetic radiation in the form of radio waves. This radiation falls under the category of non-ionizing radiation, which means it does not have enough energy to ionize atoms or molecules and create charged particles. The implication is that radiation from masts should normally not be of any health concern to humans.

Numerous studies have been conducted over the years to determine whether exposure to non-ionizing radiation from telecom masts poses a health risk to humans. The World Health Organization states that

to date, no adverse health effects have been established as being caused by mobile phone use. As mobile (or wireless) communication systems are widely used, it is important to continue research into any potential health impacts.

However, some people are concerned about the potential health effects of prolonged exposure to non-ionizing radiation from telecom masts. Perhaps these are the kind of people that your dad has been listening to. Some of the most common concerns raised include:


Some studies, like Meena et al., (2016 and Naeem (2014) have suggested that prolonged exposure to non-ionizing radiation from cell phone towers may increase the risk of certain types of cancer, such as brain cancer. However, these studies have been largely inconclusive, and the overall scientific consensus is that there is no clear evidence to support this claim.

Electromagnetic hypersensitivity

According to WHO, Some people claim to experience a range of symptoms, including headaches, dizziness, and fatigue, when they are exposed to electromagnetic radiation. However, little scientific evidence supports the existence of EHS as a medical condition.

Other health effects

Some studies have suggested that prolonged exposure to non-ionizing radiation may have other health effects, such as changes in sleep patterns, but these claims are also largely inconclusive.

The exposure to non-ionizing radiation from telecom masts is generally considered to be safe within certain exposure limits set by various regulatory bodies around the world, including the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in the United States and the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) in Europe. These limits are based on the scientific evidence available at the time of their creation, and are intended to protect the public from any potential health risks.

In a summary, while some concerns have been raised about the potential health effects of exposure to non-ionizing radiation from telecom masts, the overall scientific consensus is that such exposure is safe within the exposure limits set by regulatory bodies. However, as research continues to progress and new evidence emerges, the potential health effects may be finally established or put to complete rest.

In other words, while your dad's concerns about locating a telecom mast within your house's premises are a bit overexaggerated, they are not totally unfounded. Whether the concerns are enough to let a lifetime financial opportunity pass your family by calls for a debate.

Let's see what my audience has to say.

All images used were taken by me using Samsung Galaxy Tab A(2016)

Posted with STEMGeeks


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