The Namibian (Windhoek)

12 July 2011

Namibia: Cell Radiation Debate Continues

THE BUZZ in Namibia around the possible link between cellphone usage and brain cancer, continues.

MTC last week repeated several precautions customers should take, saying the company's motto is to rather be safe than sorry.

However, MTC Corporate Affairs Officer, Tim Ekandjo, added that the facts in the cellphone and cancer debate should be clear. He said that the latest findings from the World Health Organisation (WHO) "once again concluded that there is no evidence that cellphones cause cancer".

Ekandjo said that the WHO has classified cellphones as "possibly carcinogenic which means that although there is no evidence, there may be a possibility that cellphones may cause cancer".

Ekandjo emphasised that the WHO findings conclude that more research has to be carried out "to either confirm or dismiss the possible link between cellphones and cancer".

MTC's corporate affairs officer furthermore explained that cellphones have been listed under category 2B, one of five different categories in which the world organisation classifies different items. The top categories include items which have scientifically been proven to cause cancer, such as cigarettes. Group 2 includes items which require further research, but could turn out to be linked to certain types of cancer. In addition to cellphones, group 2B includes "nightshift work, car exhaust, coffee and pesticides", Ekandjo said.

The telecommunications giant is committed to supporting a "precautionary approach" and Ekandjo said. This approach means that MTC will "play it safe rather than to be sorry 20 years down the line".

Ekandjo repeated that MTC advises that "pregnant women and the youth resort to text messaging as opposed to voice calls, that customers keep their mobile phones at least 1 metre away from them when sleeping and sitting in the office". Furthermore, MTC encourages customers to use the cellphone loudspeakers "to keep a safe distance between your head and your phone".

Ekandjo also touched on the topic of radiation emitted from cellphone towers. According to MTC, independent contractors have measured radiation levels from the towers, and they comply with international guidelines. He warned however, that "this does not mean that all towers in Namibia comply and that is where we need to put pressure." he pointed out that towers from "broadcasters and other telecommunications operators" should also comply to international health standards.

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