Thu, Jun 15, 2006 - Page 2 News List

EPA tests show high levels of electromagnetic waves

By Chung Li-hua  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) recently conducted measurements of indoor electromagnetic fields in Taipei for the first time, with results indicating that 20 percent of the locations tested had readings of over 10 milligauss (mG).

High readings have been linked to certain health problems.

"That high?" gasped Li Chung-yi (李中一), an expert in electromagnetic radiation in the department of health at Fu Jen Catholic University, in response to the administration's readings.

Li called on the administration to publicize the high-risk locations as soon as possible so that any inappropriate power distribution in schools and hospitals could be adjusted.

Chen Chiao-hua (陳椒華), director of the Taiwan Environmental Protection Union (TEPU), said that if Taipei, the country's capital, was flooded with excessive electromagnetic radiation in this way, then other cities and counties may pay even less attention to their power distribution infrastructure, making it possible that the danger was even greater outside Taipei.

Chen added that although the WHO had yet to publish a report on the effects of electromagnetic radiation, research on infectious diseases shows that small children regularly exposed to 4mG of electromagnetic radiation had an increased risk of developing leukemia, and that for every 1mG above that level, the risk of developing cancer doubles.

From late March to early last month, the administration took electromagnetic radiation readings in Taipei, the country's most densely populated area, hoping to obtain indoor background radiation measures to use as a reference when amending standards.

The EPA conducted tests in all of the city's 12 administrative districts, measuring electromagnetic levels in two hospitals, two communities, two elementary schools and two kindergartens per district. In total, 16 locations were tested and more than 6,000 measurements were taken in each district.

The study showed that 18 percent of elementary school classrooms, hospitals and homes had levels exceeding 10mG. One percent of kindergartens had readings above 10mG, while 16 percent of power distribution rooms and 34 percent of transformer rooms in communities, schools and hospitals had levels above 10mG. Thirty-two percent of areas near high-voltage wires measured above 10mG.

Four percent of power distribution rooms, 11 percent of transformer rooms, and 3 percent of elementary school classrooms, hospitals, homes and areas near high-voltage lines had readings exceeding 30mG.

The EPA said there was no way to verify at present if electromagnetic radiation was harmful to people's health, and added that it was concerned it might cause unfounded worries among the public.

The EPA was therefore unwilling to release the sampling locations and measurements from its tests, and has no plans to continue sampling in other cities or counties.

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