Calvary residents’ complaint to prompt cell site check-up

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Wednesday, June 18, 2014


RESIDENTS of Sitio Calvary, Barangay Apas, Cebu City have blamed two cellular sites in their area for the 19 deaths due to cancer that they have recorded in the past 14 years.

The residents, with the help of Apas Barangay Captain Ramil Ayuman, are asking the City Government to transfer the two cellular sites far from them, so they will no longer be exposed to radiation.

An official of the Department of Health (DOH), however, said there is no conclusive evidence that exposure to radiofrequency radiation emitted by cellular sites can cause cancer.

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During the City Council’s public hearing yesterday, Dr. Proponio Lapa of the Calvary Homeowners’ Association said that the residents have been bombarded by the “deadly radiation” coming from two cellular sites since 2000.

One of the cellular sites in the area is owned by Globe Telecom and was constructed in 2000. The other cellular site is owned by Sun Cellular and was constructed in 2004.

In his speech, Lapa, who is a physician, told the council of the harmful effects of living near a cellular site.

He cited a 2004 German Government Study that reportedly people living within 1,300 feet of a cellular tower had three times the risk of cancer.

Study

A French medical study, on the other hand, reported that people living within 1,000 feet of a cellular tower have an “unusually high level” of complaints of extreme fatigue, headache and depression, among others, Lapa also said.

“According to established norms, the radiation level of 600 milliwatts of per square meter is considered safe but mobile phone towers emit electromagnetic rays above the safe limit,” he added.

However, Dr. Agnette Peralta, head of the Bureau of Health Devices and Technology of DOH, said that the latest international studies found no conclusive evidence that exposure to radiofrequency radiation can cause cancer.

Peralta, who is a medical radiation physicist, said this is contained in the 2012 report of the United Kingdom Protection Authority and the 2014 study of the Swedish Radiation Protection Authority.

Peralta added that the World Health Organization (WHO) made the same statements.
Exposure

In speaking before the council, Peralta said that everywhere, people are exposed to radiofrequency radiation, especially from mobile phones.

She pointed out that in 2012, WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer classified the radiofrequency radiation from mobile phones as “possibly carcinogenic” for brain tumors.

However, she said that there is also still no conclusive evidence regarding the matter.

Upon learning about the matter, Councilor Mary Ann delos Santos said it is ironic that people can live with cell phones yet are scared of cellular sites.

But in order to ease the anxiety of the public, Globe’s legal counsel Atty. Ma. Leonor Teves, who attended the public hearing, told the council that they are willing to conduct an on-site survey in Sitio Calvary together with DOH to determine the radiofrequency radiation level of their cellular sites.

Teves said Globe owned more than 100 cellular sites in the city and these are placed near residential areas. She said this is the first time they received a complaint that their cellular sites are causing cancer.

The move to conduct a survey was supported by the council. It has yet to be scheduled.

The council then formed a team that will join the inspection of DOH, together with Globe and Sun Cellular, and asked them come up with a report and recommendations on the concerns raised by the Calvary residents. In their report, the team was asked to consider the pronouncements made by Peralta.

The team is composed of the committee on urban planning headed by Councilor Noel Wenceslao, the committee on health headed by Councilor Lea Japson and the committee on infrastructure headed by Councilor Roberto Cabarrubias.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on June 19, 2014.

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