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Keep your cell phones off in hospitals: Experts
Pakistan Created: 10 Nov 2008
Islamabad: Using cellular phones near hospital beds and critical care medical equipments can lead to electromagnetic interference, leading to immediate malfunctioning or misreading of the medical gadgets and endangering the lives of the patients.

Critical care equipment is vulnerable to electromagnetic interference posed by new age cellular phones. It can disrupt pacemakers, switch off ventilators and cause a lot of problems, Health News reported. Other malfunctions attributed to electromagnetic interference include complete stops with no alarms in syringe pumps and incorrect pulsing by an external pacemaker. To assess the potential danger of using mobile phones in hospitals, researcher recorded nearly 50 incidents of electromagnetic interference from cell phone use in hospitals and classified 75 per cent of them as significant or hazardous.

On testing 61 different medical devices, it was found that most of the incidents stemmed from the latest General Packet Radio Service (GPRS) signal, a new-generation technology that also allows wireless Internet access. Researcher found that 300 tests over a five-month period turned up no noticeable interference with important hospital equipment due to regular mobile phone use. The results underline the importance of keeping mobile phones switched off in hospitals.
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Source: The News, 10 Nov 2008

Cellphone towers in mosques
Pakistan Created: 20 Oct 2008
For the first time in the City, a BTS tower (Base Transceiver Station) has been installed within the premises of a mosque with serious health and environmental hazards in the heart of the posh housing scheme of Model Town.
Model Town Islamic Trust, a body responsible for managing mosques and two graveyards in the society, has allowed installation of Cellphone towers within the premises of two of its mosques located in A and F Blocks, putting the health of Namazees and nearby residents at risk. BTS towers cause serious environmental hazards besides giving an ugly look to the locality.
Operation of generators in the case of power failure causes serious noise and air pollution, further spoiling the peaceful atmosphere of the society.
Nearby residents and namazees (devotees) have held the management of Model Town Society responsible for installation of these towers, demanding the President to intervene and ensure their (towers) early removal.
It is for the first time that any mosque allowed such an installation with commercial overtones.
“BTS towers were installed about seven months back. About six months back, I submitted a request with the MTS President to take notice of installation of these towers in the premises of two mosques surrounded with houses. I only received the information that my request has been forwarded to the Secretary Model Town Islamic Trust for comments.
Nothing has been done so far. Installation of these towers has put the health of not only the namazees but also the nearby residents in danger,” said Khalid Ikram, former President MTS.
Interestingly, the MTS has quite strict rules as far as installing such towers is concerned. As such one hardly comes across these towers in the residential areas.
For the local people, installation of huge towers in mosques within the limits of residential areas was most surprising and shocking to some extent.
President MTS Tahir Kardar said that the management of Model Town Islamic Trust has been requested and it has agreed in principle not to renew the agreement with the cellular company from the next year
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Source: The Nation, IQTIDAR GILANI, 19 Oct 2008

Risky mobile phone usage
Pakistan Created: 29 Jul 2008
The head of a leading cancer research institute has reignited the controversy over the health risks of using mobile phones by sending a warning to staff that they should limit the use of the devices because of the risk of cancer.

Dr Ronald Herberman’s alert to 3,000 staff at the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute is believed to be the first of its kind from the director of a leading research centre. His call for action stands in contrast to the existing advice from many health authorities, which have pointed out that evidence of the dangers of mobile phone use is inconclusive.

In a memo posted to staff, Herberman admits that the evidence is still controversial and no hard conclusions can be reached, but he says he has become convinced that there is sufficient information “to warrant issuing an advisory to share some precautionary advice on cellphone use”. He has had his memo peer-reviewed by an international panel of more than 20 experts from countries including the US, Canada and France.

He is likely to arouse considerable interest in his warning by adding that he bases it partly on “early unpublished data” from ongoing research projects. It is thought that may refer to new findings from a monitoring project across 13 countries, known as Interphone.

Herberman advises a 10-point programme to reduce the risks of using the devices, which he calls ‘precautionary’.

Top of his list of advised precautions is that children should use mobiles only for emergencies in recognition of the fact that their growing brain tissue is likely to be more sensitive to the electromagnetic radiation emitted by them. That is in tune with advice already given by several European countries and Canada.

The list goes further than most existing advice by advocating steps that include:

Avoid using mobile phones in public places such as buses as you might passively expose your neighbours to radiation.

- Do not keep phones near your body at night, such as under the pillow;

- Restrict calls to just a few minutes to avoid accumulation of exposure.

- Try not to use a phone where the signal is weak or when moving at speed, say in a car or train, as this raises the power of the device as it seeks to find a connection;

- Use hands-free devices and if forced to hold a phone to the head switch sides while talking to avoid concentration on one part of the brain.

Herberman’s decision to go beyond current medical orthodoxy prompted a sceptical reaction from some colleagues. Professor Will Stewart of Southampton University, an expert on Optoelectronics, said: “One cannot refute the ‘early findings from unpublished data’ since we have not seen them. But there is enough published data to make the advice sound alarmist.”

The Wireless Association, representing the mobile phone industry in the US, said research “published in scientific journals around the globe show that wireless phones do not pose a health risk”.

The largest study published so far tracked 420,000 phone users in Denmark, thousands of whom had used the devices for more than 10 years. It found no increased risk of cancer. ap
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Source: Daily Times, 28 Jul 2008

CDA to launch operation against cell phone towers
Pakistan Created: 28 May 2008
ISLAMABAD: Capital Development Authority (CDA) is all set to launch an operation against the cell phone towers erected on rooftops without proper safety measures posing risk to human health.

The authority has pointed out around 100 cell phone towers, which are to be removed or regularised, a senior CDA official said on Tuesday.

“About 100 base transceiver stations (BTS) towers have been pointed out.

All of them would be removed except those which would be in the position to be regularised,” he said, adding the list had been moved to the CDA’s directorate of enforcement, which would provide force to execute the plan.

“We are ready to provide the force to take action against the BTS towers, which are no doubt a threat to the people, particularly during the extreme weather conditions,” the CDA Director Enforcement Capt (r) Faiz said.

The CDA official said the authority had chalked out a future policy on setting up of the BTS towers in residential and commercial areas.

He said the cell phone companies were adopting old methods in setting up towers despite the modern technology in which the towers of very small diameter were set up.

He said for setting up of a BTS tower, prior approval from the CDA was essential for the company concerned; otherwise they had to face action besides heavy fines.

According to the CDA bylaws, he added, no BTS tower could be installed on rooftops in residential and commercial areas, otherwise the company concerned would have to bear heavy fine five.

He said a meeting would be held today (Wednesday) to finalise plan for operation.

Meanwhile, a cell phone company’s spokesperson claimed that not a single tower has been installed without prior approval from the CDA. He also ruled out their negative impact on human health due to radiation, adding that it might pose a threat to human health. app
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Source: Daily Times, 28 May 2008

Free radicals implicated in obesity heart risk
Pakistan Created: 28 Jan 2008
ISLAMABAD: People who are overweight may have impaired blood flow that can increase their risk of heart disease - Now, a team of Italian researchers report that an abundance of free radicals--naturally occurring compounds that damage cells and lead to disease--may be partly to blame.

Dr. Francesco Perticone, from the University of Catanzaro Magna Graecia in Catanzaro, Italy, and colleagues tested blood vessel response in 76 healthy people.

The investigators found that obese people, individuals who tended to gain weight around their abdomen, and those who did not respond normally to insulin had impaired blood flow compared with normal-weight people. Insulin is the hormone that regulates blood sugar. People with type 2 diabetes do not respond normally to insulin, which results in high levels of glucose (sugar) in their blood.

When the obese participants were given vitamin C, their blood vessels widened, improving blood flow, according to the report in the January issue of Diabetes, a journal of the American Diabetes Association.

Previous research has found that antioxidant vitamins such as C and E may help arteries dilate and keep blood flowing smoothly. Antioxidants blunt the effects of free radicals.

The new study "reinforces the hypothesis" that damage caused by free radicals may be considered an important mechanism behind blood vessel problems in obesity, Perticone and colleagues explain.

The authors note, however, that there is no evidence that vitamin C actually lowers heart disease risk.

They write that weight loss and exercise may help improve blood flow and lower the risk of heart disease. Further research is needed to determine exactly how obesity and insulin-resistance prevent blood from flowing smoothly through vessels.
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Source: Online - International News Network, 21 Jan 2008

Cellular Cancer
Pakistan Created: 28 Aug 2007
It is not possible to think of a normal human being surviving without a cell phone. Cell phone has in fact become a vital part of human body. The sight of a person talking aloud without any audience does not raise questions about his sanity. Rather it reflects upon that person’s affluence, because
having a cool blue tooth thing is not every one’s forte.

Cell phones have erased distances and according to popular advertisements, have brought people closer. But each new step in the cellular direction is bringing us closer to physical and mental problems. Young and old all shrug their shoulders and roll their eyes when they are told about the harmful effect of cell phones. But closing the eyes is definitely not the solution. Not having a cell phone is like being lost in the jungle in the modern age. So amputation should not be suggested. Nonetheless, the disease can be cured to a certain extent.

There are several harms connected with the usage of cell phone. Research has proved that the electromagnetic radiation emitted from the cell phone can cause headache, sleep disruption, brain tumors, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson's disease, altered memory function and several other forms of cancer. 70 to 80% of the energy emitted from the antenna of your cell phone is absorbed in your head. Most headsets concentrate the signal to your brain which increases your risk of cancer. Janet Raloff writes in Science News Online that scientists reported biological effects in animals triggered by bombardment with energy at power levels and frequencies typical of cell phones. W. Ross Adey of the University of California, Riverside, for instance, showed that a pregnant rat's exposure to phone like radiation at any of three power levels alters the activity of an enzyme—ornithine decarboxylase—in the fetuses' brains. This enzyme helps create polyamines, which are chemical markers of stress. Surprisingly, Adey noted, the lowest input of radiofrequency energy, 0.16 watts per kilogram of tissue, triggered the biggest changes in polyamine concentration. He speculates that increased enzyme activity, which can foster certain cancers, "may offer an explanation" of tumors that he and his colleagues have observed in rats exposed to radiofrequency energy for long periods.

Added to the problem is the Pakistani invention of “missed calls.” I asked a teenager that how on earth he guesses what the other person is trying to say by simply a missed call. Asfand replied that ‘at times a missed call means that your friend is around or is not coming to college or has bunked the period and is sitting in café. It can also mean that I have to call him or that he is going to call me soon. A missed call can have loads of meanings and you get to know them once you are used to using the cell phone.’ An average cell phone user in Pakistan gives missed calls to his friends more than ten times in one day. So even when the cell phone is not being used for conversation, the electromagnetic rays keep on harming the brain through these calls.

Following the missed call phenomenon is the craze for sending text messages. On the road, in the corner, in the classroom or in a high official’s conference, one can witness the constant punching of thumbs on the cellular keypad. Mr. Shoaib says that “I can never understand the idea of the never ending tick-ticking on phones. It is enough to drive you crazy to see everyone always so distracted.” There is also the “forward messages syndrome.” Every day one gets a minimum of twenty to thirty messages which tell you the true meaning of friendship, profane, promiscuous or dumb jokes, religious quotes and all the idiotic things possible. There are several pocket books available in market now which give you a handy collection of all types of forward messages. Whether you are a pervert or a saint, you can get to read and send all the messages you like. And while sending or receiving these innumerable messages, you can also have an inconspicuous rendezvous with electromagnetic radiation. The cell phone is constantly searching for signals while it is on, exposing you to electromagnetic rays if you are next to it. And the vital purpose of messaging crappy stuff keeps the cell phone attached to you all time.

The radio system installed in most of the cell phones is more or less like a contagious disease. But it is a very fashionable and reverently coveted disease. Those who don’t get it are considered less fortunate. In cities and towns alike people listen to the songs being played on the various radio channels. There is no reason behind listening to music on a cell phone. Several thousand types of audio players are available in market. The effect of a music player’s ear phone is much less harmful than that of a cell phone.
As a nation we have the tendency to adopt unhealthy and irrational life styles. The well beloved ‘mobile’ culture is seeping in the very core of society. The generation of 2007 looks upon the cell phone as a part of human anatomy. Its usage can no longer be lessened or curtailed. The best one can do is to avoid its harmful effects to the utmost extent. The best solution would be to use the speak phone. But this is not practical enough because many phone sets do not have a speak phone. Also it cannot be used most of the time you are in company of others. The second solution would be to keep the cell phone as far from your body as possible. The nearer a cell phone is to the head, the more exposed it is to the electromagnetic waves.

Health is of course something more valuable than mere whims and crazes. By not giving missed calls and forward messages, you would run the risk of being called an idiot in your friend’s circles. Still it is worth a try if your life is at stake on the other end of the line.
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Source: Chowk, Javaria Farooqui, 25 Aug 2007

PTA suggests sharing of mobile towers
Pakistan Created: 19 Aug 2007
KARACHI: Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) appears cautioned that current pace of infrastructure and coverage expansion from the cellular companies would increase mobile towers to 30,000 by 2010, which currently stand at 1,2000 across the country, causing health and environment concerns.

In a consultation paper issued to formulate infrastructure sharing policy guidelines for the cellular companies, the telecom regulator stressed for the measures, which could avoid unwanted change in the landscape.

“At present, mobile companies have installed about 12,000 towers countrywide and it is safely predicted that this number will cross 30,000 in 2010,” said the PTA paper.

“The prediction is based on the growth rate, market structure, competitive forces, economic conditions of the country, leftover portion of the country for service provision and 3G licensing in pipeline.”

It said due to this phenomenal growth forth mentioned concerns were attracting attention for arising need of infrastructure sharing. In the course, it said, operators were encouraged initially to work out their plans and modalities to make it success.

“The construction of towers is mushrooming and in near future towers population across the country will change urban and rural landscape,” added the paper. “A need is thus felt to have a framework in place guiding and promoting the sharing of communication infrastructure.”

The PTA said present individualism was reflecting under-utilisation of tower sites and resources and was also a burden on the operators. There was also general public concern over effects on health and environment due to growing numbers of towers in cities towns and rural areas.

“It is therefore imperative that resources are pooled and cost shared in planning and setting of BTS,” added the PTA consultation paper.

The PTA said currently regulatory environment in Pakistan did not oblige the licensees to share infrastructure with their competitors. Each licensee was expected to build or lease the infrastructure it required, although the license they own allows them to share their infrastructure on commercial arrangements.

“PTA, so far, has not issued any guidelines to regulate the matter. Penetration in rural areas is increasing,” said the telecom regulator.

Infrastructure sharing in Europe is translated as having simply two or more operators coming together to share various parts of their network infrastructure for the purposes of their service provisioning.

As the PTA paper suggests these can take numerous forms, ranging from the simplest one of sharing of space on masts and in associated buildings or sites and typically results in two or more physically separate networks; to geographic division of a market.

Last month in the country three cellular companies - Ufone, Telenor and Warid - signed a memorandum of understanding facilitating operators to share their infrastructure for 10 years with mutual consent. The memorandum is the first of its kind between three leading mobile phone operators in Pakistan.

“Infrastructure sharing can have a number of variants, but its ultimate objective is reduction of costs associated with setting up mobile radio network by sharing such facilities between one or more mobile operators,” added the PTA consultation paper.

“In its simplest form it is the sharing of space on masts and in associated buildings or sites (sometimes referred to as “mast sharing”). In this form there are still two physically separate networks.”
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Source: The News International, Imran Ayub, 19 Aug 2007

Death call from the dark side
Pakistan Created: 16 Apr 2007
KARACHI: Rumors of a ‘supernatural’ killer call on mobiles phones, that supposedly kills the person receiving the call by damaging their central nervous system and splattering the brain, have swept like wildfire among Karachiites.

According to these rumors, which are believed to have originated in Sialkot, the victim receives a call on his or her mobile phone in which a red-colored apparition of a woman appears on the display screen. There have been claims in the Punjab that many deaths have taken place by unsuspecting cell phone owners.

In Karachi, these rumors have taken on a whole new twist, as many now believe that besides death, this mysterious call can also result in impotency in men who receive the call, while the women end up becoming pregnant.

According to the rumors, the cause of this supernatural call is that some mobile phone company set up a tower at a graveyard, which enraged the spirits, causing them to wreak havoc among mobile phone users.

No matter how irrational these rumors may sound, they have sent a wave of fear among cell phone users in Karachi and many people have stopped receiving calls or SMS messages from numbers they are not familiar with.

“I got very scared after hearing these rumors and stopped using my mobile phone,” said Bashir, a driver by occupation. “I do not want to end up dead just because I am using my mobile phone.”

For others, the scare was reminiscent of urban legends. “It is a very scary thought indeed. It reminded me of a horror movie that I once saw,” said an employee of a software house.

The significance of the impact of the rumours can be gauged by the fact that mobile phone companies have started issuing clarifications to ease the prevailing panic among their customers.

Random SMS messages have been making the rounds. “These messages are probably the handiwork of bored young people, who are doing it for the kicks,” said a graphics designer.
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Source: Daily Times Lahore Pakistan, Bilal Farooqi, 14 Apr 2007

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