Did Mike Repacholi misspeak in India?

UPDATED with a comment from Gregor Duerrenberger suggesting that Mike and myself made technical mistake…So how it is – when cell tower emits 10 times less radiation power – will cell phone increase its power to compensate and keep connection or not? Discussion is open below…

Quoting Gregor Duerrenberger:

Hi Dariusz

just scanned over your Repacholi blog and saw that you, as Mike, stick to an argument that is technically not valid: The output power of a handset ist regulated by the base-station, that’s true, but it is not the strenght of the base-station signal received by the mobile phone that sets the handheld output power. It is the signal strenght of the handelheld received by the base-station antenna. So, if you reduce output power of the base-station and the location of the handheld remains the same, the handset does not increase its power (due to the lower base station signal level) because the environmental radio communication conditions for the mobile phone did not change.

The best, Gregor
****************************************************
Dr. Gregor Dürrenberger
FSM – Swiss Research Foundation on
Electricity and Mobile Communication
c/o Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH)

However, health hazard issue, as presented by Mike Repacholi, is not invalidated by this new development…

In December 2013, former Head of the WHO EMF Project visited India and gave lecture as well as news media interviews. At the issue was the decision of India to implement new radiation emission safety limits for cell towers that are 10 times lower than the WHO-recommended ICNIRP levels.

Indian newspaper ‘Business Standard’ published on December 14, 2013 an article, interviewing Mike Repacholi, under the headline “India’s mobile tower radiation norms absurd, says WHO” and continued with a subtitle “WHO expert says rules increased emission hazard for phone users; tells govt to review norms”.

In this ‘Business Standard’ article Mike Repacholi is quoted as saying:

India’s decision to reduce the power of the base stations will not minimise any risk. If you reduce the power of a base station, your mobile handset transmits more frequency to stay connected to the network. As the handset is closer to the body, it could cause some health hazard.”

Later, the journalist, Sounak Mitra, stated that “Repacholi had told the government hand-held mobile devices might cause health hazards, but not the base stations of mobile towers.”

The both above quotes clearly indicate that Mike Repacholi considers that hand-held cell phones may cause health hazard to its users.

As the reason for the increased health hazard Mike Repacholi said “…If you reduce the power of a base station, your mobile handset transmits more frequency to stay connected to the network…”. Indeed, cell phones work this way.

However, as we all know, and are assured by cell phone manufacturers, cell phone never emits more radiation than the safety standards permit, even if cell tower has low emission or is far away. Such increased emissions, by cell phones, should not cause any health hazard as we are continuously assured by the WHO.

The latest information from the WHO EMF Project on the safety of cell phones states the following:

“…A large number of studies have been performed over the last two decades to assess whether mobile phones pose a potential health risk. To date, no adverse health effects have been established as being caused by mobile phone use…”.

So, what is the real position of the WHO?

Are higher emissions from cell phones, caused by lower emissions from cell towers, hazardous to people? From the article in India’s ‘Business Standard’ it seems that WHO’s expert Mike Repacholi thinks so.

It is not only India’s problem what the hazard is. It is a global problem.

Cell towers, especially in the countryside are located far from each other. It is often so that the signal received by cell phone is low. The same might happen also in cities – I have such problem at my home.

Quotes presented above indicate that Mike Repacholi considers that globally all cell phone users, having poor signal from the cell tower, are at risk of health hazard. At least this is the logical conclusion when reading the article in the India’s ‘Business Standard’.

Any comments???

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6 thoughts on “Did Mike Repacholi misspeak in India?

  1. I agree with Bironemf that Michael Repacholi probably meant “frequently”, if he meant “frequency” instead then he would be saying that the Hertz-GHz rate would change which still would not be commenting on the strength of the base station or handset.

  2. I see some very strange remarks on this board.

    “The only effect of reducing the power of a base station is that the phone will not work in basements or elevators.”

    False. A weaker signal means lower SNR and a reduction of the radius of service.

    As far as arguments “put forward by industry representatives when it came to discussions with citizens initiatives” I would like to see specifics of these.

    Another post states:

    “The mobile industry with it’s lackeys often use a wrong reasoning on purpose, when they say that a cell tower is needed next to schools so that mobile phones will operate.”

    This fear mongering about cell towers near schools neglects that the signal is directional and often the maximum exposure occurs at several hundred meters from the school — it is in industry’s interest to have an even distribution of signal as opposed to a hot spot near the transmitter that drops off immediately.

    I am familiar with some of the activist funded/inspired studies that were posted and given the obvious bias of the authors along with the need to provide positive findings — their likelihood of finding true effect is nil.

    I get whiff of sanctimonious, activist-based pseudoscience from arguments as these.

  3. A mobile phone requires a really small signal level (coverage) to fully operate. When the ICNIRP guideline for 3G is 10 W/m2 = 10.000.000 uW/m2, you get a good reception with 0,5 uW/m2 or less. That is 1/20.000.000 -part of the guideline!

    You can test yourself this minimal required signal level with an accurate power density meter and a mobile phone, just watching it’s field indicator.

    The mobile industry with it’s lackeys often use a wrong reasoning on purpose, when they say that a cell tower is needed next to schools so that mobile phones will operate.

    BTW, in many of those cell tower schools the power density level is often over 100.000 uW/m2, which is a risky level, based on epidemiological studies & ecological studies: http://tinyurl.com/towerepidemiology, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22138021, http://tinyurl.com/BuchnerEger2011, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23261519

    Thank you Dariusz for providing this discussion channel.

    Best wishes

    Mikko Ahonen (PhD)

  4. Perhaps he meant “more frequently” instead of “more frequency.” Transmitting with less power reduces SNR and increases the Bit Error Rate. The upshot is more retransmission with connection oriented protocols including TCP. This might be what drove his remarks.

  5. Dear Dariusz,
    Gregor is right. This is an error that has annoyed me a lot in the past because it seems to provide a valid argument against reducing base station power. It has been put forward by industry representatives when it came to discussions with citizens initiatives. The only effect of reducing the power of a base station is that the phone will not work in basements or elevators (because the mobile will send no signal if it does not receive a base station identification).
    Best,
    Michael

  6. I think Dr. Gregor Dürrenberger does not analyze the point which was correctly raised by Dariusz. The point which is made by Dr. Gregor Dürrenberger occures in situations where the hand set is close to the base station, so the radiation does not decrease much in respect to the hand set. But Mike Repacholi΄s point was in situations where the actual environmental radiation is also decreased in respect to the hand set, the hand set will increase the radiation.
    Thank you
    Stelios A Zinelis

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