TEPCA seeks rethink on Taipei bus WiMAX/Wi-Fi

Staff Writer, with CNA

Fri, Aug 12, 2011 - Page 2

Wireless Internet on Taipei buses could increase the risk of cancer for bus drivers, the Taiwan Electromagnetic Radiation Hazard Protection and Control Association (TEPCA) said as it urged Taipei City Government yesterday to reconsider its decision to install WiMAX/Wi-Fi wireless Internet connections on public buses.

Although Taipei has been designated a “healthy city” by the WHO, installing WiMAX/Wi-Fi devices on buses would expose drivers to an environment full of electromagnetic waves without proper evaluation of the risks, TEPCA said.

The WHO Healthy Cities project is a global movement that engages local governments in the development and awareness of health.

TEPCA said the “basic limit and reference level” for electromagnetic exposure set by the Environmental Protection Administration is a “short-term exposure limit” rather than a “safety standard value.” Even if the electromagnetic volume measured around the driver’s seat is below the official limit of 1 milliwatt per square centimeter, the drivers are still exposed to a greater health risk because they spend eight hours on the bus every working day, TEPCA said.

According to a report released this year by the International Agency for Research on Cancer — a part of the WHO — radio electromagnetic waves are categorized as “possibly carcinogenic to humans.”

In response, National Communications Commission official Wu Chun-mu (吳春木) was cited by local media as saying that the safety limit on the volume of electromagnetic waves depends on a number of environmental factors, including the distance to the subject from the source of the waves.

Wu also said that the electromagnetic measurements and standards used by TEPCA were cited from disparate sources and could therefore lack a unitary empirical foundation. However, he also expressed respect for the organization’s data and concerns.