An experiment measuring electromagnetic radiation levels on trains used by the Taiwan Railway Administration (TRA) and the Taiwan High Speed Rail Corp (THSRC) showed that levels for six types of trains exceeded the 833 milliGauss (mG) limit set by the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA) when they accelerated.
The Chinese-language Apple Daily reported yesterday that it had carried out the experiment last week in conjunction the National Hsinchu Senior Industrial Vocational School.
The experiment results showed that the electromagnetic radiation levels detected in the Type-500 Local Train and the TRA’s Type-EMU1200 Tzuchiang Express exceeded the maximum levels on their electromagnetic radiation detectors — at least 1.4 times the EPA’s regulated reference levels.
The current levels outlined by the EPA for exposure to extremely low frequency electromagnetic radiation, including the type emitted from high-voltage towers, high-voltage transmission lines, substations and home appliances including microwave ovens is 833mG.
Based on the experiment’s results, the levels of electromagnetic radiation detected in all six types of trains ranged between 200mG and 700mG before — levels that are all within the EPA’s limits — but the electromagnetic radiation in four types of trains increased to between 900mG and 1,200mG during acceleration, while two other types of trains hit levels exceeding the detectors’ maximum limit.
Taiwan Electromagnetic Radiation Hazard Protection and Control Association founder and chairperson Chen Jiau-hua (陳椒華) said the International Agency for Research on Cancer has classified radio frequency electromagnetic radiation as a “Group 2B” substance, that means it is probably carcinogenic to humans, but there is currently a lack of evidence.
Exposure to high levels of electromagnetic radiation for short periods of time can cause fatigue, headache or anxiety for people who are more sensitive to the electromagnetic fields, Chen added.
The TRA said it has about 1,700 different train carriages, of which 374 generate electromagnetic waves exceeding the national standard of 833 mGuss, adding that they are EMU 500 and EMU1200 carriages.
“We have found that electromagnetic waves in train carriages will rise above the national standard when the train accelerates, but the phenomenon only happens on the floors,” said Yang An-hsin (楊安心), the TRA’s train car section chief. “The electromagnetic waves measured on passenger seats are all within the safety range.”
The TRA said it had asked EMU500 and EMU1200-model train car manufacturers to add insulation to the train car floors. The railway service said readings of electromagnetic waves could be attributable to several factors, including the presence of computers and mobile phones on board the train.
THSRC said that the levels of electromagnetic waves in all its train carriages were below the EPA-issued standards, adding that it was regrettable that the media had misguided the public by quoting unscientific statistics which had been obtained from a non-governmental organization.
THSRC said electromagnetic wave levels could be swayed by different factors and expressed reservations about the results.