Pissouri residents threaten to pull their kids out of school if Limassol authorities fail to remove a mobile telephony antenna that is transmitting next to the community’s elementary school.
On Tuesday, pupils at the Pissouri Elementary School staged a walkout for one hour following a decision by the Parents Association, demanding that the cell tower be removed in order to protect their children’s safety.
The protest was supported by the Green Party, members of the local council, and concerned citizens, who argue that that the cell site is “illegal and dangerous” for children and families in the area.
Local residents refer to studies suggesting mobile telephony antennas could be harmful to human health due to the radiofrequency waves being transmitted in the area, citing the very short distance between the tower and the school.
But critics of antenna protesters dismiss the concern, citing the fact that coffee is also classified as a possibly carcinogenic agent
PA president Melina Demetriou told daily Phileleftheros that the issue has been outstanding for two years and members of the association expect the issue to be resolved before the start of the 2018-2019 academic year.
“If officials do not go ahead with the immediate removal of the antenna from the area, then the next step will be for organised parents not to register their children in school for next year,” Demetriou said.
One of the main concerns shared by local residents is that cell phone signals could cause cancer, following a number of studies that have not ruled out the possibility that some effects on human health remain unknown.
The government has told local media in the past, through the Transport Ministry, that antennas must be properly licensed and officials from the Electromagnetic Services department carry out measurements regularly.
What does science say
The overwhelming majority of scientists insist there is no evidence to suggest these mobile phone antennas are harmful, and more specifically, no studies have shown direct links between the use of cell phones and cancer in humans.
In 2011, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), which falls under the supervision of the World Health Organization (WHO), classified radiofrequency fields as “possibly carcinogenic to humans” through a programme aimed at identifying factors that can increase the risk of cancer in humans.
Radiofrequency fields were classified in Group 2B, which means the radio waves possibly could be carcinogenic to humans.
But critics of antenna protesters dismiss the concern, citing the fact that coffee is also classified in the same Group 2B, as a possibly carcinogenic agent. Other agents in this group include coconut oil, lead, and welding fumes.
Some radiation types harmful, but not all
Critics further point out there is a difference in wavelength between ionizing radiation and non-ionizing radiation, which separates radio and microwaves from X-Ray.
Radio, microwave, and infrared radiation are not considered harmful, as they are non-ionizing and longer in wavelength. That means they carry less energy. However, ultraviolet, X-Ray and Gamma ray radiation is considered harmful to humans, as it is ionizing and with waves shorter in length that carry enough energy to break apart atoms and even damage DNA.
Group 1 includes agents that are known to be carcinogens while Group 2 includes agents for which evidence is positive but not conclusive for causing cancer. Groups 3 and 4 include agents that are not classified as to their carcinogenicity or are probably not carcinogenic to humans.
Group 2B includes agents that “possibly” could cause cancer but there is less than sufficient evidence or “inadequate” basis to draw conclusions in humans. Group 2A is similar but agents in this class are said to “probably” cause cancer but evidence is limited.
Radio waves from phone antennas are classifed in Group 2B.