Residents Vow To Take Down Mobile
Journalist: Leo Leonidou
October 05, 2006
Residents of a Limassol village have
vowed to take down its mobile phone antennas “one way or the other”,
accusing the village’s mukhtar of ignoring their requests and siding
Locals fear that the antennas, which are positioned on top of Ypsonas
Municipality’s buildings and on a local toy shop, are a direct threat
to their health.
Speaking on behalf of the residents, Bob Cracknell told the Cyprus Mail
that, “mukhtar Kyriacos Tsaousis had vowed to take them down, but has
reneged on his promise. In a meeting on Tuesday night, he again made
the promise but he has proved to be totally ineffectual.”
At the meeting were representatives of CyTA, Green Party leader George Perdikis and over 100 residents.
“The law says that antennas are legal structures only if they have
planning permission,” Cracknell pointed out. “But Tsaousis said he
didn’t need planning permission so they are illegal, with Perdikis
agreeing that they should not be there.”
Cracknell added that the meeting descended into chaos when the CyTA
officials claimed the antennas were not damaging to health. “They were
not allowed to speak after making the comment,” he said.
“CyTA should not act in such a cavalier manner. Nobody can say for sure
that antennas are not harmful. Maybe they are not, but are we to accept
the risk? The mukhtar is forgetting he is an elected person and is
completely discarding the residents’ concerns.”
At the meeting, Perdikis noted that the antennas are the property of
the telecommunications giant meaning Tsaousis can’t take them down.
“CyTA warned residents that legal action would be taken against them if
the antennas were touched,” said Cracknell, “with Perdikis imploring
them to be responsible, comply with the law and remove them.”
The matter has been referred to Ombudswoman Eliana Nicolaou by the concerned residents.
A CyTA spokeswoman yesterday hit back at the accusations, saying all
their activities and equipment are regulated by the EU and World Health
She said that Tuesday night’s meeting in Ypsonas turned ugly in a short
space of time. “We were not given the opportunity to put forward our
point of view, as people present were very aggressive and refused to
listen to us.”
Back in July, CyTA said they would comply with a Supreme Court ruling
that any of their mobile phone base stations set up without first
securing building permission were illegal.
However, they stopped short of committing themselves to taking down
their base stations, saying the majority of installations had been made
prior to the abrogation of the law in December 2003, which had allowed
the authority to carry out works or install its masts in public and
private areas. Since the change in the law, the authority said it had
only set up masts in areas where planning permission was not required,
and had otherwise applied for permission.
“Additionally, from October 2004, following a decision to define an
area establishment policy for base stations, CyTA has not undertaken
any new installations pending the completion of the area establishment
policy, submitting [instead] applications for planning and building
permission,” CyTA said at the time.
The issue of an area establishment policy came about following a public
outcry over the increasing number of antennas and base stations
cropping up in residential areas and their possible health effects.
“Two antennas have been taken down in Aglandja, Nicosia with another
one at Mesa Yeitonia in Limassol following court orders,” the
spokeswoman said. “Another two will be coming down in Mesa Yeitonia
shortly, which will leave mobile phone users in the area struggling for
Last April, a physics professor at the University of Cyprus warned that
safety limits for electromagnetic radiation may be too high, following
a two-and-a-half year study of electrical emissions around the island.
Dr Panos Razis told the Mail that although most emissions on the island
were within set safety limits, other countries were reducing their
limits as studies into the long-term effects were starting to emerge.
Razis said the Cyprus study honed on what the team had called ‘problem
areas’, such as Polemidhia and Lakatamia, where people have reported
cancer clusters, particularly in childhood leukaemia. He said in both
areas the readings were within the set limits but this did not mean the
emissions were not responsible.
“How biological molecules like DNA and RNA are affected… research is
not advanced in that area. So if one considers what might happen on a
long-term basis, one has to be cautious not to have houses and schools
very close to such infrastructure because science at the moment cannot
say they are 100 per cent harmless.
“The subject still needs a lot of investigation. Decades ago they could not tell that smoking causes cancer,” Razis said.
How Dangerous Are They?
While low levels of radio-frequency power are usually considered to
have negligible effects on health, regulations restrict the design of
base stations to limit exposure to electromagnetic fields. Technical
measures to limit exposure include restricting the radio frequency
power emitted by the station, elevating the antenna above ground level,
changes to the antenna pattern, and barriers to foot or road traffic.
For typical base stations, significant electromagnetic energy is only
emitted at the antenna, not along the length of the antenna tower.
Because mobile phones and their base stations are two-way radios, they
produce radio-frequency (RF) radiation and they expose people near them
to RF radiation giving concerns about mobile phone radiation and
health. Hand-held mobile telephones are relatively low power so the RF
radiation exposures from them are generally low.
A 2002 survey study by Santini et al. found a variety of health effects
for people living within 300m of base stations. Fatigue, headache,
sleep disruption and loss of memory were among the effects found.
An ICNIRP (International Commission on Non-Ionising Radiation
Protection) Standing Committee Report on Epidemiology in 2004 reviewed
the risks of cancer, cardiovascular disease, adverse outcomes of
pregnancy and cataract formation associated with RF field exposure at
work. It then reviewed the risk of leukaemia to populations who are
closer to RF transmitters used in broadcasting and telecommunications
and the risks of brain cancer and acoustic neuromas by mobile phone
users. The report concludes that the research performed to date gives
no consistent or convincing evidence of a causal relationship between
RF field exposure and any adverse health effects.
The consensus of the scientific community is that the power from these
mobile phone base station antennas is too low to produce health hazards
as long as people are kept away from direct access to the antennas.
However, current international exposure guidelines are based largely on
the thermal effects of base station emissions. Some scientists have
questioned whether there are non-thermal effects from being exposed to
low level RF frequencies such as are transmitted from mobile phone base
stations. Such non-thermal effects include how the actual frequencies
interfere with the human brain and all other cells in the human body.