Thursday, October 29, 2009

Telecommunications Tower Emissions Safe

source: Republic of Botswana (23/10/09): TAUTONA TIMES no 26 of 2009
The Electronic Press Circular of the Office of the President
“Democracy, Development, Dignity and Discipline with Delivery”

C7) 8/10/09: Telecommunications Tower Emissions Safe

The Ministry of Communications, Science and Technology (MCST) wishes to re-assure the public that there is no credible evidence that telecommunications transmitter towers erected in this country are hazardous to the health of people resident in places near where they are erected.
This communication has been prompted by recent press report raising the possibility that radiation emissions from the towers can damage cell tissue and DNA giving rise to various maladies. There is no sound evidence for such a sensational claim.

Radiation emissions fall into two categories: Ionizing and Non-Ionising. The category of radiation associated with the greatest risk to human health and safety is ionizing radiation, which above certain levels will indeed cause permanent and irreparable damage to the body.

The Department of Radiation Protection Inspectorate within MCST has been established to protect the public, users of nuclear technology and the environment against adverse effects on ionizing radiation. In carrying out this mandate, the Department conducts regular inspections to closely monitor levels of ionizing radiation in suspect areas to ensure that they fully comply with statutory safety requirements and international safety standards.

In the above context the Radiation Protection Inspectorate reacted rapidly to complaints lodged on 3rd June 2009 about possible radiation hazards from a Mascom wireless transmitter tower located at Phutadikobo Hill in Mochudi. Inspectors from the Department of Radiation Protection were on site within 24 hours to assess the complaint. In their findings, the inspectors found no evidence that harmful ionizing radiation was being emitted from the said Mascom tower, noting

“No significant levels of background ionizing radiation were recorded at the tower or the chief’s residence to warrant concern. This inspection confirms that there is no harmful ionizing radiation emissions in the area of investigation.”

In reaching their findings the inspectors carried out radiation readings in the area at and around the tower, which were all well below the level of 1.0 micro-Sieverts per hour, which is considered to be the minimum level to warrant further investigation.

Measurements carried indicated readings of 0.08-0.10 micro-Sieverts per hour at and around the tower and 0.09 microSieverts per hour at the Kgosi’s residence located on the hill, approximately 100 metres from the tower. The highest reading was recorded at the Kgotla 0.18 micro-Sieverts per hour, which is still far below the 1.0 micro-Sieverts per hour threshold.

All of the reading taken at Mochudi were also below the 0.22 micro-Sieverts per hour average background ionizing dose for most areas in Botswana that had been visited by the Radiation Inspectors as of June 2009.

With respect to Non-Ionising Radiation, which is known to be emitted in the form of Radio Frequency (RF) waves from sources such as TV and telecommunications towers, it may be further noted that there has to date been no scientific or medical proof that such radiation can cause permanent damage to humans.

In January 2004, the Botswana Telecommunications Authority, whose responsibility includes the monitoring of radio frequency matters, reported that “research in this area has been extensive and there is no replicated laboratory or epidemiological evidence that RF radiation at the power levels association with mobile phone base stations are association with cancer.”

Dr. Jeff Ramsay
Acting Permanent Secretary

No comments: