Lightning Archives — LIRNEasia

Mobiles, cancer and lightning

Posted on June 8, 2011  /  3 Comments

The trigger for this post was a call from an outlying area in Sri Lanka. A concerned citizen had got hold of my number and wanted my advice on the effects of cell towers an an observed increase in lightning strikes in his area. I told him that people tend to associate new things like cell towers with increases in lightning strikes, without factoring in the possibilities that (a) there was really no change in lightning strikes, there just appeared to be an increase; and (b) other factors may have changed, including the houses that were being hit by lightning. I said that I could not agree to explanations that went counter to basic physics, namely that high objects such as cell towers would not attract lighting and would instead cause lighting to hit objects that were lower in elevation such as houses. I directed him to several government agencies, including the Telecom Regulatory Commission which was said to have launched a nationwide study on the subject.
‘Mobile phone calls death’. The ominous title, in Lankadeepa online, is not too uncommon in Sri Lankan media. The story is about the latest victim, who apparently met his death by lighting when talking to his mobile on the bund of a tank. According to Daily Mirror, deaths by lightning in Sri Lanka has increased with 18 people been killed since March 1, 2010, against ten such deaths for entire 2009. Daily Mirror also advices against, inter alia, the use of mobile phones even indoors.