From September mobile phones in India will come with a mandatory label indicating how much electromagnetic radiation the device emits. An inter-ministerial committee on electromagnetic field radiation has also put a cap on this radiation. This has now been set at a “specific absorption rate” (SAR) of 1.6 watt/kg over 6 minutes of talk time.
Predictably this has ruffled feathers with industry lobby groups who say this will debar hundreds of Chinese brands. Many products will now need a redesign to meet this requirement and The Economic Times newspaper estimates that this will increase the cost of a new mobile phone by up to Rs400.
Clearly this is a policy that goes in favour of larger, established brands which either have devices within the limit, or can quickly retool their products. And many of them will be glad to see any respite from the onslaught of cheap Chinese products. The Indian norm is at par with American, and considerably tighter than European, limits on SAR.
But all this comes at a time when there is still no indication if the radiation from mobile phones is actually bad for you. In fact, so far, for every piece of research that suggests elevated risks of cancer or tumours, there is another one that rules it out. The most recent one comes from the UK’s Health Protection Agency (HPA). After looking at hundreds of studies on the impact of mobile phone radiation on users, HPA announced on Wednesday that there still isn’t any conclusive evidence to show “that mobile phone technologies cause adverse effects on human health”.
However, and this is the crux of the matter, HPA still advocates caution, especially when it comes to children using the phones. This is because it is still too early to say what the long-term impact of this radiation can be. Mobile phones have only been used widely over the last two decades. It is quite possible that it may take another decade or two to see any adverse impact. So while it is still too early to panic, from September buyers might want to glance at those labels before buying phones.
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