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[November 15, 2009]

Residents demand removal of towers

(Gulf Daily News (Bahrain) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) MORE than 100 Janabiya residents have signed a petition, demanding the removal of mobile phone masts in their area that they claim are harmful to health. It has now been submitted to the Northern Municipal Council chairman Yousif Al Boori and the Telecommunication Regulatory Authority (TRA).

The petition was first launched in September when new masts were set up near residents' homes and a girls' school, allegedly "under the cover of darkness" during the public holidays of Eid Al Fitr and the following weekend.

"Scientists in Europe, the US and around the world have conducted countless studies that have established links between low-energy electromagnetic field exposure such as that emitted from a mobile phone mast and adverse health effects," residents claim in their petition.

"These include leukaemia, brain tumours, genotoxic and neurological effects, neurodegenerative disease, allergic and inflammatory responses, breast cancer, miscarriage and various cardiovascular effects among others.

"All these occur at much lower exposures than the internationally advocated exposure threshold.

"We call on you to adhere to the precautionary principle and ensure the placing of these masts away from residential neighbourhoods, schools and hospitals.

"The health of an entire country is at stake, including yours and your children's." Hussam Qassim, who is one of those spearheading the petition, said he was not against all mobile phone masts - just those in residential areas.

"I myself have children and fear for their health because these mobile phone masts are set up very close to schools and residential areas," he said.

"We are not against these masts as long as they are set up far away from us." However, TRA communications and consumer affairs director Basil Al Arrayedh denied any link between the masts and the illnesses claimed by residents.

"All the studies that have been conducted by the World Health Organisation (WHO) did not find a link between the phone masts and the diseases," he said.

"The WHO spent around $400 million (BD151.3m) on these studies and none claims that there was a link to these diseases." He said that the International Commission for Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection and the WHO had carried out many studies over the past 30 years, which had not found any link between the diseases and mobile phone masts.

"The more the mobile phone masts are the less energy they and mobiles emit," said Mr Al Arrayedh.

However, Northern Municipal Mr Al Boori said he was backing the residents' demands.

"The matter had become worse and these mobile phone masts are being set up randomly," he said.

"Nowadays the complaints and the petitions are increasing because of the increase in the number of mobile phone masts in residential areas." However, he said health fears were not the only concern.

"These generators are very loud and are working day and night. This is another reason why residents are getting upset," he said.

Mr Al Boori revealed the council had sent a list of alleged violations by phone companies to the Public Prosecution.

(c) 2009 Gulf Daily News Provided by Syndigate.info an Albawaba.com company

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