Friday, 5 August 2016

Unmast the Masts, Plant the Plants

Welcome to iCN. We hope you have seen the need to conserve natural resources of Nigeria. Today, we will be discussing a vital topic which affects everyone of us including plants and animals. It has to do with telecommunication masts, their effects on the environment, man and conservation.  If you live a within quarter mile  of a mast or know people who do so, this post should be a concern to you.
Masts are, typically, tall structures designed to support antennas (also known as aerials) for telecommunications and broadcasting, including television. In this case, we will be talking about telecommunications masts or what most of us call mobile phone masts.

Masts are usually named after the broadcasting organisations that use them, or after a nearby city or town. For example, we can have MTN Mast, Glo Mast, Airtel Mast, NITEL Mast and so on. Which mast is around your area?
The establishment of more telecommunications infrastructure such as masts and base stations has raised some environmental concerns, especially in the area of Environmental Impact Assessment.
It has become a part of the environment to see tall masts in different locations around the country.

These masts though helpful, are believed to have negative health effects on people living near where they are erected. According to TIG, NCBI and H.E.S.E., radiations from these telecommunications masts have detrimental effects on man and his environments. Cases have been reported, according to them, of cancers, severe headache, lung diseases, fatigue, sleep disruption and so on. TIG even reported the case of a woman who lost her baby because of the effect of the radiation from the mast planted near her house. Although, according to WHO research, there are no current scientific proofs of health hazards associated with telecommunication masts.

It is not as if masts planting is totally bad but recommendations have to be strictly adhered to when planting these masts. For example, people staying 300 meters near mast in a rural area in Frances according to a survey by Santini et al.
Apart from the effect on man, masts also have direct or indirect negative effect on plants, animals and the environment. Before the masts are planted, trees in that area are cut off. Most of these trees are important to keep our environment safe and preserve biodiversity. So, instead of having good oxygen to breathe, the people near the masts are being fed with radiation. This can be really felt in urban areas like Lagos where trees are not so much planted.

You may be saying that you have not experience any of the effects around you. Usually, the effects of masts radiation are not short termed but long termed. This might be in the generations to come. According to science, it might result to mutation which might not take effect now but in the nearest future. Haven't you seen a case whereby a couple who are both blacks gave birth to an albino child? Or the case of healthy parents giving birth to deformed child? These are some of the long term effects of the mast around your area.

H.E.S.E. gave reason why not all of us are affected at the same time. Read the quote below:

"This is due to natural biological variability and is quite normal. For example, not everyone who smokes dies of cancer; it just increases the risk. Similarly, not everyone will be equally affected by non-ionising radiation. There could be many reasons for this; some people may have higher levels of calcium in their blood, which will help stabilise their cell membranes. Others may have more effective natural defence mechanisms or mechanisms that cut in at different levels. Other people may have had their defence systems impaired, by either illness or prolonged electromagnetic exposure. Many more may be affected but have just put it down to the general stress of modern living and have not yet made the link between their symptoms and their now almost universal electromagnetic exposure."
"However, even if you are one of the lucky ones who suffer no obvious short-term adverse effects from electromagnetic radiation, there is no cause for complacency. There is no guarantee that you will not suffer long-term effects or that the apparent lack of effect will continue as the general levels of electromagnetic exposure rise and our steadily aging bodies become less and less able to cope."

I am not writing to create fear in you but rather, to inform you of the danger you are being exposed to. You must be asking "what is the solution now?"

First, don't be too greedy. Certain people have been reported to invite telecommunications companies to erect masts near their houses just because of the huge amount of money attached to the installations of the masts. Such people, usually, invite them even if there is network coverage in their areas.

Also, be informed. Make sure the telecommunications company has obtained the necessary Environmental Impact Assessment before erecting the masts if necessary. There are certain distances recommended that must be strictly adhered to before the masts are installed in or your area.

Also, there are certain areas where masts are not necessary since there are network coverage around such areas. In case of any request from people around the areas fro masts, I suggest the mobile operators do a good research before granting such request. There was a case once reported in Ekiti state where mast was about to be installed which was later found that the people in charge just wanted to dube the mobile company.

To me, I would even prefer that the masts are unmasted and plants are planted. Although, this may sound impossible but I see a situation whereby cable lines are passed underground which would serve the same purpose as masts whereby not telling much on the environment.

Moreover, if it is so necessary that mast is planted in an area, I suggest that plants within such area are not destroyed as well, rather more plants that can absorb such radiations should be planted around the mast.

The following plants are believed to absorb radiations and are therefore suggested. Ocimum sanctum, Aloe vera, Rubber plant, Cactus, Sunflower, etc. You can google search for more information on them and for more.

Apart from the absorbtive importance of plants, many plants known as ornamental plants tend to beautify our environment. You think of a house with plants, think of a village without plants, think of a city without plants... Yes! we are finished! Let us encourage ourselves and the people around us to plant plants and unmast the mast.

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