Residents lash out at towers’ presence

Residents lash out at towers’ presence

ISTANBUL - Yavuz Kaygusuz, a neighborhood leader in Istanbul’s Fındıklı area, says regardless of whether phone towers cause cancer, they have affected the residents’ psychology adversely and they are determined to remove the towers. An increase in cancer cases in the area led to the protests.

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Residents of Istanbul's Anatolian district of Maltepe’s Fındıklı neighborhood are protesting three mobile phone transponders near their homes, after cancer cases on their street increased in the last couple of years. 

"Whether or not the towers cause cancer, they have affected our psychology adversely and we want them to be removed," Yavuz Kaygusuz, a neighborhood leader, told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review yesterday.

Members of the neighborhood claim that the towers on their street caused a recent death in the neighborhood. Fadime Külcü, 22, died on Monday due to leukemia, while 8-year-old Uğur Vural, who lived on the same Güven Street, died two years ago from leukemia as well, daily Vatan reported. Külcü’s has father also learned that he has cancer.

After Fadime’s funeral on Tuesday, the neighborhood residents protested the transponders, which have been in their neighborhood for more than 10 years. The transponders are units with both a receiver and a transmitter that provide mobile phone communication.

No concrete evidence

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"There are four cancer patients on our street currently," Kaygusuz said, adding that they have no certain information that towers are causing the cancer. However, he said they are determined to have the towers removed.

"I applied to the mayor, the province’s health directorate and the local administrator in March. Still there is no answer," he said. The neighborhood residents are also planning to make a criminal compliant against the towers.

Scientifically it has not been proven that there is a direct relation between cancer and mobile phone towers, which spread electromagnetic waves. However, it is a risk factor and a risk factor should be avoided medically until the opposite is proven, said Secretary-General of the Istanbul Chamber of Physicians Hüseyin Demirdizen.

Moreover, according to Demirdizen, it is possible that the accumulation of small amounts of electromagnetic waves could cause problems in the long run. What is critical is the time and amount of exposure to the waves, in addition to personal characteristics of the individual who is exposed, he said.

Meanwhile, electric engineer Özgür Tamer from Dokuz Eylül University said there is no standard distance from a phone tower to safely avoid electromagnetic waves.

"Every phone tower is unique and electromagnetic waves spread by reflecting through the environment. Individual measurements are necessary for each tower," he said.

According to Tamer, it would be impossible to gather all phone towers in one place outside of the city.

"This would make your phone like a bomb. Because as the distance of your phone increases from a tower, it becomes more powerful and more harmful for your health," he said.

Tamer also said he would not want to live near a transponder, although the majority of towers in Turkey spread electromagnetic waves under the maximum limits. There are also several judicial verdicts, including Supreme Court of Appeals decisions, that have concluded that individuals’ psychological health is adversely affected by the transponders.

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