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Mobile tower radiation clips sparrows' wings

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Radiation from mobile towers is not only taking a toll on human health but is also blamed for sparrows vanishing into thin air.

An environmental science expert team - led by Sainudeen Pattazhy - attributes the disappearance of sparrows to the electromagnetic fields and radiation effects created by mobile towers and mobile phones.

"Navigation skills of the birds and earth's magnetic system are correlated. Natural electromagnetic radiation (EMR) and the earth-oriented magnetic vibration are directly proportional, whereas technology-induced EMR is inversely proportional," Sainudeen Pattazhy, an environment scientist and associate professor at S N College, Kollam, told TOI.

All mobile phone towers emit microwave radiation, which is radio frequency radiation (RFR), part of the spectrum of electromagnetic waves. Long-term exposure to low level RFR has damaging effects on the nervous system and immune system of small animals. Studies indicate that short-term exposure of pulsed mobile phone radiation with carrier frequency 900 MHz reduced the reproductive capacity of insects by 60%.

Sainudeen Pattazhy suggests regulation of mobile towers in thickly populated areas and restricting them to remote areas. If a tower is installed at a place, another tower should not be permitted within a radius of one kilometre, he says.

"Birds are good ecological indicators for low-intensity electromagnetic radiation, they have thin skulls and their feathers can act as dielectric receptors of microwave radiation. Many species use magnetic navigation and microwaves can interfere with their sensors and misguide them while navigating and preying," says Pattazhy.

According to a survey in 2010, the number of house sparrows (Passer domesticus) has declined in coastal areas, including Kerala, by 80% and by 2003 the sparrows had almost disappeared from the capital city. However, a survey by Travancore Natural History Society in 2012 in Thiruvananthapuram had identified about 300 sparrows, mostly around granary stores and market yards.

Various other reasons are cited for the disappearance of house sparrows such as introduction of unleaded petrol - combustion of which produces compounds such as methyl nitrite which is highly toxic for insects that form a major part of young sparrow's diet- widespread use of garden pesticides, vanishing open grasslands, rising air temperature and modern bird-unfriendly architecture.

Various reasons are cited for the disappearance of House Sparrows such as introduction of unleaded petrol - combustion of which produces compounds such as methyl nitrite which is highly toxic for insects that form a major part of young sparrow's diet, wide spread use of garden pesticides, vanishing open grass lands, rising air temperature and modern bird-unfriendly architecture. Beyond that, experts indicate that electro-magnetic fields created by the increase in mobile towers have led to disappearance of house sparrows.

"Navigation skill of the birds and earth's magnetic system are correlated. Natural electromagnetic radiation (EMR) and the earth oriented magnetic vibration is directly proportional, whereas technology induced EMR is inversely proportional," Dr. Sainudeen Pattazhy, an environment scientist and associate professor at SN College, Kollam told TOI on Tuesday. It was in recognition of his work that NASA and International Astronomical Union had named a minor planet after him, 5178 Pattazhy planet.

He had submitted a memorandum to the Union government and International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) last year which prompted the Union government to order a three-year project to investigate into the decline of house sparrows. "Birds are good ecological indicators for low-intensity electromagnetic radiation, they have thin skulls, their feathers can act as dielectric receptors of microwave radiation, many species use magnetic navigation and microwaves can interfere with their sensors and misguide them while navigating and preying," Pattazhy explains.

According to a survey in 2010, the house sparrow (Passer domesticus) has declined in coastal areas including Kerala by 80 per cent and by 2003 the sparrows have almost disappeared in the state capital city. However, a survey by Travancore Natural History Society in 2012 in Thiruvananthapuram had identified about 300 sparrows mostly around granary stores and market yards.

All mobile phone towers emit microwave radiations, which is radio frequency radiation (RFR), part of the spectrum of electromagnetic waves. Long-term exposure to low level RFR has damaging effects on the nervous system and immune system of small animals. Studies indicate that short-term exposure of pulsed mobile phone radiation with carrier frequency 900 MHz resulted in 60 per cent decrease of the reproductive capacity of insects.

Indicating the need to control the unscientific proliferation of mobile towers, he suggests regulation of mobile towers in thickly populated areas restricting it to remote areas. If a tower is installed at a place, another tower should not be permitted within a radius of one kilometer, he says.

Quoting Dr.Neil Cherry, he says his studies indicate how electromagnetic fields and radiation damage DNA and enhance cell death rates. A study conducted by researcher P Rajendra and his team reveals the biological effects in the developmental of chick embryo exposed to electro-magnetic fields.

The Times of India (20-03-2014)