Engineers implore government to outlaw telecom masts in residential buildings

Acting General Manager, Workshop Planning and Logistics (WPL) in the Directorate of Safety Electronics and Engineering Services of Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), Terese Ihenachor, said telecommunication mast mounted near residential building is dangerous to the health of residents and should be abolished.

The propriety of installing telecommunication masts on buildings took a centre stage at the 2017 yearly lecture of the Apapa branch of Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE) in Lagos, with experts calling on government to outlaw the mounting of telecommunication mast in residential buildings.

The call, however contrasted positions held by regulators and service providers, who argued that the electromagnetic waves emitted from the mast did not have any direct effect on humans.

But the Acting General Manager, Workshop Planning and Logistics (WPL) in the Directorate of Safety Electronics and Engineering Services of Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), Terese Ihenachor, said telecommunication mast mounted near residential building is dangerous to the health of residents and should be abolished.

Stimulating the call in a lecture to mark the 2017 engineering week of the branch entitled: “Health implication of mounting telecommunication mast close to building”, Ihenachor, a fellow of Nigerian Institute of Engineers (FNSE),  said many of the Telecommunication mast emit electromagnetic waves with magnetic flux that are dangerous to human health.

While noting the on-going debate at the National Assembly on the abolition of erecting telecommunication mast near buildings due to the health implications, she  said electromagnetic wave is a self-propagating transverse oscillating wave of electric and magnetic fields.

According to her, electromagnetic radiation consists of electromagnetic waves (EM),  which are synchronized oscillation of electric and magnetic field that propagate at the speed of light through a vacuum.

“Electromagnetic radiation is associated with those EM waves that are free to propagate themselves without the continuing influence of the moving charges that produced them, because they have achieved sufficient distance from those charges”, she said.

She stressed further that Electromagnetic waves influence the human body just as they influence any other material made up of charged particles. When electric fields act on conductive materials, they influence the distribution of electric charges at their surface.

“They cause current to flow through the body to the ground. EM induce circulating currents within the human body.  If sufficiently large, these currents could cause stimulation of nerves and muscles or affect other biological processes.

According to her, a growing number of studies have linked electromagnetic field associated with the operation of Telecommunication mast with health hazards ranging from changes in cognitive performance and sleep disturbances to serious illness and disablement, with even higher cancer rates.

In Nigeria, researchers have shown that indiscriminate locations of mast have effect on the health of people living in buildings near it.

“For example, Onifade in his 2011 publication based on his research at Ibadan reported that indiscriminate location of masts in Egbeda Local Government Area (LGA) of Oyo State causes partial deafness, affect television/radio reception even the diesel from generating set also pollute the underground water around the mast location which can lead to typhoid, dysentery and diarrhoea among others”, she added.

Also  the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer at Akin Zedomi and Company, Tunde Zedomi charged engineers to champion the campaign against the mounting of  telecommunication mast near human inhabitations, saying the effects of electromagnetic radiation on human health are widely discussed both at the political and at the scientific level.

Everyone, he said,  knows that electromagnetic radiation can be dangerous as a  variety of studies have been held in the world that confirm the harmful effect.

Regretting that  many of  those encouraging  the mounting  of the mounting of telecommunication masts  near buildings are  engineers, the astute engineers urged engineers to  use litigation to  bring the harmful effect of the act to the fore to compel regulators do the right thing and avoid sacrificing the health of the nation on the alter of pecuniary gains.

Delivering also  a lecture titled:  The Nigerian Engineer in the eye of the Nation”,  Zedomi said the starting point is to asked the regulators to allow the telecommunication masts to be installed in their own buildings.

He observed that engineers by their profession are not supposed to be tired but must ensure that the younger ones are mentored to promote engineering ethics.

Meanwhile, the  branch chairman, Dr. Ombugadu  Garba, blamed the alarming rate of infrastructural failures on government’s refusal to adhere to professional advice, preferring to give politicians jobs for monetary gains.

He stressed that it is not enough to build quality roads,  saying maintenance aspect is very important because  if we don’t maintain the result will not be desirable.

To enhance maintenance, he said, government must sit up and ensure that maintenance component is included in the project.

On the call for the scrapping or establishing maintenance agencies like the Federal Roads Maintenance Agency (FERMA), Garba said the major challenge is the need for government to implement its laws, not the creation of boards or scrapping of maintenance agencies.

He also called for the creation of holding bays for the trucks and continuous orientation for truck owners on Apapa express road, saying allowing steady loads on the bridges could damage them.



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