Sat, Jun 04, 2011 - Page 2 News List

Cellphone ban at schools urged

CAN YOU PROTECT ME?A lawmaker said many Taiwanese would be considered heavy users, according to a WHO warning on mobile phones, and the government should act

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff Reporter

In view of the WHO’s recent warning that there might be a link between cellphone use and brain cancer, a civic group and legislator yesterday called on government to publicize the warning and to ban children younger than 15 from using cellphones on school grounds.

The WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) on Monday said that exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields, such as using cellphones, might increase the risk for acoustic neuroma and glioma, a malignant type of brain cancer.

Taiwan Electromagnetic Radiation Hazard Protection and Control Association chairperson Chen Jiau-hua (陳椒華) said the Department of Health must inform the public that radiofrequency electromagnetic radiation has been classified as a “Group 2B” substance (probably carcinogenic to humans, but with limited evidence) and provide practical, precautionary measures.

The specific absorption rate (SAR), a measure of the amount of radio frequency energy absorbed by the body while using a cellphone, as well as a warning message should be put on cellphone packing, Chen said, adding that children under the age of 15 should be banned from using cellphones at school to reduce the possibility of harm to their memories and brains.

However, a Department of Health specialist, Su Shin-yuh (蘇新育), said the IARC reported there was only evidence showing that exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic radiation by “heavy users” might cause harmful or carcinogenic effects on human, with heavy use defined as 30 minutes a day over a 10-year period.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Tien Chiu-chin (田秋堇) said many people now would be considered heavy users and the government should set up stricter regulations to protect the public.

The National Communications Commission said all cellphones sold in Taiwan since July last year have been required to be labeled with their SAR number.

Liao Shuang-ching (廖雙慶), a secretary at the Ministry of Education’s Division of Environmental Protection Education, said it would hold a meeting to discuss the idea of banning cellphone use by students at school.

The meeting would be attended by experts, parents, school representatives and doctors, Liao said.

Additional reporting by CNA

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