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SOS – Radiation (Part 2)

February 21, 2006

SOS – Radiation
Part 2

Technological Progress Has Negative Effect on People’s Health

In the last 10 years, there seems to have been outbreaks of nervous system, cardiovascular and oncological diseases in Georgia. The population is sure that the diseases are caused by both environmental pollution (from toxic and chemical waste) and mobile phone towers that have been built in populated areas.

According to a survey conducted by civil-society groups, in almost every region of Kakheti, one in every fifty inhabitants has cancer. The population links this to pollution caused by toxic chemicals (an issue discussed in previous articles) and the damaging effects of mobile phone towers.

The inhabitants of the village of Sanavardo in the Kakhti region, claim that a tower used by the ‘Magti’ cellular network, installed next to the Kvareli TV tower, causes people to suffer from an excess of prothrombin (a chemical that regulates the clotting of the blood). Local medical staff also confirm that there have been increasing numbers of cases of different diseases and illnesses in the region.

“Since the ‘Magti’ tower was built in the region, people have been inflicted by various illnesses. The number of afflictions has increased. People complain of high blood pressure and headaches. Children suffer from excessive prothrombin virtually from birth. In addition, when the tower was erected we were promised that we would have electricity 24 hours a day, but we were misled. There is an iron box at the bottom of the tower where the generator is located, in case the electricity to the tower cuts out. This generator switches on automatically, producing a terrible noise that a human being cannot bear. We held several strikes, demanding the 24- hour electricity supply we were promised. We also applied to many officials but without success”, says sixty-one-year old local inhabitant, Dariko Kegoshvili.

“Many people have died from cancer and cirrhosis of the liver during last few years”, says Nani Balakhashvili, who cannot hide her frustration.  

‘Magti’ Telavi office rejects the possibility that radiation emitted by their tower, installed in Kvareli region, is affecting the inhabitants of Sanavardo. The base station coordinator in the Kakheti region also notes that the ‘Magti’ company has a permit from the Sanitation Control Service, which states that the ‘Magti’ tower does not pose a danger to the local inhabitants’ health. Meanwhile, Kvareli inhabitants threaten to blow up the tower.

In 2004, protests demanding the relocation of a ‘Geocell’ mobile phone tower were held in Akhali Abastumani and the Engur paper factory district of Zugdidi. The population complained that after the tower was built, milk lactation in a five kilometer radius decreased. There was also an increase of the number of cases of cardiovascular illnesses. The population complains of intense headaches, rapid pulse rates, general weakness and frequent variations in blood pressure. They are sure that cancer and especially diseases of the thyroid gland have become common too. Local inhabitants of the district claim that they suffer constant ‘earthquakes’ from the strong vibrations and also hear terrible noise. There have been cases of sudden death reported as well. Galina Meskhia, one of the original protestors, still remains active in the struggle against the mobile phone towers; however, these struggles have not achieved any positive results so far.

“It is a barefaced lie that the towers do not emit radiation. We absorb it and suffer the consequences. We could not solve our problems by protesting. We only managed to meet specialists through the ‘Geocell’ company. They said that the level of radiation did not exceed the norm and that it was not dangerous. However, we also know that uncontained uranium is placed under the mobile phone towers of ‘Magti’ and ‘Geocell’, which are installed on the boiler-house pipe of the Engur paper factory. All the diseases are caused by it”, says Galina Meskhia.

Zaza Pataridze, the head of the ‘Geocell’ office in Zugdidi, does not deny that electromagnetic radiation can be dangerous to human health, but on the other hand he states that the towers pose no danger to life and adds that it is only rumors that have caused concern amongst the people.

To our great astonishment, we discovered a ‘Geocell’ tower in the garden of D. Berulava, an inhabitant of the village of Chkhoria in Zugdidi region. The Sanitation-Hygiene Regulation Inspection Department of the Ministry of Labor, Health and Social Affairs, measured electromagnetic radiation on land owned by D. Berulava on 20th May 2003. They concluded that the radiation posed no risk to human life.

The conclusion stated: ‘The studies conducted, measuring the intensity of the electromagnetic field emitted by the base station towers of ‘Geocell’ Ltd, erected in the village of Chkhoria, in the Zugdidi Region, in the garden of D. Berulava, revealed that the intensity of the electromagnetic field does not exceed the permitted amount.

Neighboring residents speak about the bad influence of the tower but avoid commenting about it officially. According to one of the neighbors, since the tower was installed, he has suffered from constant headaches and high blood pressure; however, he has not got the evidence to prove that this has been caused by radiation.

Inga Soselia, an emergency doctor, tells of another fact that should be mentioned. “During the emergency services we provide to the inhabitants of different parts of Tbilisi, we cannot use the cardiography device to make diagrams, even though we check that the device is working properly before we leave to attend an emergency. Then, we discovered that this malfunction happens only in those parts of Tbilisi where the mobile phone towers are erected. I believe that a person’s organs must absorb and have some reaction to the radiation, in the same way the medical equipment does,” says Inga Soselia.

There are 1000 ‘Magti’ and ‘Geocell’ towers, which means that the whole city is covered by electromagnetic waves. Frequently, the people living near these towers complain about their effects. “I suffer from headaches and discomfort since the installation of a mobile phone tower nearby. We are scared that the constant radiation might have a negative effect on our health”, says Vazha Sardaladze.

Specialists believe that it is wrong to locate the towers so close to housing. “The towers should be located far away from people. As for the electromagnetic radiation emitted from the antennas, it is not very dangerous once it spreads out, losing its harmful energy. The situation is very different on the site of the antennas, where the electromagnetic radiation is concentrated at a high frequency. Thus, being in close proximity to such towers is dangerous for people’s health”, says Physicist Goneli Papava.

Gela Mtivlishvili
Maia Gubeladze
Anna Chkhaidze