Wed, Jul 27, 2011 - Page 2 News List

Environmentalists pan plan for WiFi access on buses

Staff Writer, with CNA

Environmental activists urged the Taipei City Government yesterday to cancel a plan to install wireless access points (WAP) on buses because of health concerns.

In a wireless Internet service campaign launched on July 1, the city government pledged to expand the free Wi-Fi network to major parts of the city, adding that it would install WAPs on 800 buses.

The Taiwan Electromagnetic Radiation Hazard Protection and Control Association (TEPCA) opposes the move, citing an International Agency Research for Cancer (IARC) report released in May that classified radioactive electromagnetic fields as possibly carcinogenic.

The association said Wi-Fi could pose a health risk to bus drivers because of the long hours they would be exposed to them.

“Radioactive electromagnetic fields are as harmful as DEHP, only [they are] invisible,” TEPCA director Jennifer Nien (粘麗玉) said, referring to a toxic chemical that many local food manufacturers illegally used to process foods, sparking a major food safety scare.

In response, the city’s Department of Information Technology said the health risk assessment it conducted for the project proved Wi-Fi devices were safe for humans.

“The radioactive electromagnetic waves emitted by Wi-Fi devices are one-sixty-third the amount emitted by a microwave oven,” senior executive officer Chang Yu-hui (張郁慧) said.

She said that according to the government’s plan, about 800 buses would be equipped with WAP by the end of next month.

This was the second time in a week that TEPCA has expressed concerns over health hazards.

On Tuesday last week, the association urged the Ministry of Education to pass a law to ban cellphone use among elementary and junior high school students.

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