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Birds leaving high-radiation areas: Study

Birds are abandoning areas having high radiation levels in Solan district and the disappearance of birds is indicative of the presence of high radiation in urban areas.

A study conducted by the Department of Electronic and Communications (DEC) of Waknaghat-based Bahra University in Solan district has revealed these startling facts wherein the radiation level has been found to be as high as 100 times more than the prescribed safe limits.

Ratish Dhiman, Professor and Head, DEC, Bahra University, sharing his findings, said a research team of his department noticed that the bird population had decreased considerably in areas where Global System for Mobile (GSM) base station antennas were installed in the district. This prompted them to enquire into this phenomenon.

During the study, it was found at several points and streets that had high electromagnetic contamination, that the birds had disappeared. It was also found that at certain points, the birds left areas contaminated by electromagnetic radiations gradually. The population of birds, like house sparrows, showed an increase in low-contamination areas as they migrated from the areas having high electromagnetic contamination, confided Ratish Kumar.

Researchers explained that the electromagnetic radiations from mobile towers consisted of particles. The more energy the particles of radiations transmitted to living cells, the more they could affect them. Birds are known to be sensitive to magnetic radiation as microwaves can interfere with their sensors and misguide them while navigating and finding food.

Their behaviour can provide us a clear indication to the amount of harmful electromagnetic radiations in human habitations, he said.

Terming it as a significant observation, Vice-Chancellor of the Bahra University, SK Bansal said they had applied for the project to the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests to evolve technologies to protect the lives of birds in the wake of increased use of technology. The infrastructure for the project would be provided by the university and it would involve two research fellows and three faculty members.

The researchers would work on suggesting modifications in designs of antennas and mobile towers so that their impact on lives of bird populations could be mitigated. As against the daily two-hour radiation exposure which was considerably less damaging, these antennas transmitted radiation for 24 hours.

The Tribune (24-01-2014)