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Environmentalists warn of cancer if wireless Internet goes on buses

2011/08/11 18:35:25

Taipei, Aug. 11 (CNA) Wireless Internet on Taipei buses could increase the risk of cancer for bus drivers.

That was the message from the Taiwan Electromagnetic RadiationHazard Protection and Control Association (TEPCA) as it urged TaipeiCity Government Thursday to reconsider its decision to installWiMAX/WiFi wireless Internet connections on buses.

Despite the fact that the city has been designated a "healthy city" under the World Health Organization (WHO), planting WiMAX/WiFi devices on buses would expose drivers to an environment full of electromagnetic waves without proper evaluation of the risks, said TEPCA.

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 (EPA) is a "short-term exposure limit" instead of a "safety standard value."

Even if the electromagnetic volume measured around the driver's seat is below the officially-set limit of one milliwatt per square centimeter, the drivers are still exposed to a greater health risk because they spend eight hours on the bus every work 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, Wu Chun-Mu, a National Communications Commission official, was cited by local media as saying that the safety limit of the volume of electromagnetic wave depends on many environmental factors, such as the distance to the subject from the source of the wave.

Wu also said that the electromagnetic measurements and standards used by TEPCA were cited from various sources and thus may lack unity. However, he expressed respect for the organization's data and concerns.

(By Sophia Yeh and Carol Hsieh)