A top official of the Department of Health (DOH) became the latest health expert to debunk rumors that cell sites cause cancer and other misconceptions.
Dr. Gladys R. Cabrera, Health Physicist IV of DOH insists the government is very strict when it comes to allowing the building of cell towers or cell sites primarily to ensure the safety of people living near or around a cell site.
Aside from various permits and clearances from the homeowner groups, barangay, and other local government units’ (LGU) requisites, a company must also secure the permission of DOH. “Prior to the installation of the cell sites, all telecommunication companies are required to secure a Department of Health safety evaluation report,” Cabrera explains.
Cabrera says the DOH safety evaluation report is a very important requirement not only to assure that cell sites will not jeopardize the well-being of residents but to counter misconceptions and wrong impressions that cell towers cause cancer and other fatal illnesses. “It contains information about safety distances. Ma-e-ensure po natin na protected ang individual from harmful effects of non-ionization radiation emitted from cell sites,” Cabrera says.
To date, around 67 million active internet users in the Philippines are sharing 17,850 cell sites. Thus, the country is forced to serve an average of 3,753 people per cell site. This is a stark difference to some of its neighboring countries like China, where only 381 active internet users are sharing one cell site. Globe’s aggressive bid to build more cell sites is in line with its commitment to expand network coverage and capacities for better internet experience of its customers.
Aside from the long process of getting a permit to build more cell sites, ignorance and misconceptions are two of the major reasons why telecommunication companies are being stymied in building more cell sites or cell towers all over the country. Globe has long taken up the sore issue of challenges in building cell sites as it noted that many homeowner associations (HOAs) continue to oppose cell site proposals made by the company due to alleged health hazards.
Since 2001, DOH has maintained that no study so far has proven that cell sites cause cancer. “Cell sites do not cause adverse side effects. It is harmless,” Cabrera adds.
Recently, a local radiation authority reaffirmed that proximity to cell sites does not cause any known health risks, contrary to what many homeowners associations believe. Philippine Radiology Oncology Society Vice President Dr. Johanna Cañal addressed almost 400 medical professionals during a radiation safety symposium last August 3.