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Trains accused of emitting excessive levels of radiation

2012/08/14 20:39:36

Taipei, Aug. 14 (CNA) Trains operated by Taiwan's two major railway companies have been accused of exposing passengers to excessive levels of electromagnetic radiation, according to a local media report Tuesday.

According to the report published by the mass-circulation Apple Daily citing the results of tests conducted by National Hsinchu Senior Industrial Vocational School in April, six types of trains currently operated by the Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) and the Taiwan High Speed Rail Co. (THSR) emit high volumes of electromagnetic radiation.

A total of 404 trains from the two companies emit radiation levels that exceed the standard of 833 milliGauss (mG) stipulated by the Environmental Protection Administration (EPA), the test results show.

Among them, the EMU 500 model commuter trains and the EMU 1200 model Tze-Chiang trains of the TRA both reached the test instrumentation's maximum of 1,999 -- at least 1.4 times the EPA standard, the report said.

The THSR's bullet trains, meanwhile, recorded a high of 970 mG, the report said.

The bullet train company rebutted the accusation, however, saying that all of its trains passed electromagnetic radiation exams conducted by the EPA in October 2007, said THSR spokesman Wang Pien-yu.

The test results were far below the EPA standard of 833 mG, Wang said, adding that the company regrets the local media citation of what it described as "non-credible test results" that it said have "confused" the public.

Meanwhile, TRA Locomotive Department Director Ho Hsien-lin admitted that there are excessive radiation levels, but only when the trains in question accelerate within a certain speed range.

Ho said the state-owned railway company will improve the trains' interiors such as by adding extra floor coverings as soon as possible.

Ho also noted that the standard for electromagnetic radiation is controversial, as the World Health Organization set a standard of 2,000 mG in 2010.

Exposure to such high levels of electromagnetic radiation might make passengers anxious and fidgety, which could threaten their health, said Chen Jiau-hua, chairwoman of the Taiwan Electromagnetic Radiation Hazard Protection and Control Association.

(By Wang Shu-fen and Hanna Liu)