It's a report that could force a rethink on the casual ease with which we use, sometimes overuse, mobile phones.
A survey of studies worldwide, done by an inter-ministerial committee of the government, has suggested that very low energy radio frequencies emitted by mobile phones could pose a health hazard.
This contradicts the World Health Organization (WHO) finding in 2010 that to date, no adverse health effects have been established for mobile phone use.
The new report suggests that the hot tropical climate, low fat content in most bodies, and high tele-density could make Indians more vulnerable.
But since the evidence is not first-hand, the Health Ministry has initiated a five-year research to gather more scientific evidence.
"This is not conclusive. We need to do a longer term study to understand the health hazards on Indians, like cancer, memory loss," said Dr R S Sharma, Health Specialist, Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).
"This report is a compilation and not conclusive. We are following the current guidelines. If the government changes the guidelines, we will comply as long as it is a solid report based on scientific evidence," said Rajan Mathew, Director General, Cellular Operators Association of India, New Delhi.
The report recommends that:
- Permissible level of radiation from mobile towers be reduced nine times the current value.
- India adopt the same manufacturing standards as USA to reduce risk of radiation exposure from handsets.
- And manufacturers display extent of radiation exposure.
While the jury is still out, the report recommends simple precautions: Using a hands-free device, have shorter conversations, use land line phones more often, and minimise usage of cellphones among children and pregnant women.