Radiation levels from mobile base stations are safe, says official

Local | Sophie Hui 6 Jul 2017

Hundreds of tests have proved radio base stations for mobile communications are safe, Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Edward Yau Tang- wah told the Legislative Council.

The Communications Authority made 800 safety tests at stations and carried out random checks on more than 3,500 stations over the past three years, Yau said, all of which showed radiation levels were within safety requirements.

He also said radio-frequency electromagnetic fields, generated by mobile base stations, are a type of non-ionizing radiation with lower energy, unlike X-rays and nuclear radiation, and will not harm humans. The strength of the radiation will also be weakened by distance.

Yau also said there are 48,575 base stations in Hong Kong, with 834 installed at 161 public rental housing estates.

"The Housing Authority provides space in its public rental housing estates for the installation of base stations by mobile network operators to enable tenants and the community nearby to use telecom services," he said.

Yau said the authority examines the total radiation level of all base stations at a specific location before a new station can be set up to ensure radiation levels do not exceed the safety limit. Operators also need to provide measurement reports within one month of establishing a new base station.

However, lawmaker Jonathan Ho Kai-ming said many residents are still worried about the effects these stations would have on their health, adding he personally felt some sensations when turning on the wi-fi.

Secretary for Transport and Housing Frank Chan Fan said if public housing residents believed their health had been affected by the base stations where they live, they can complain to the estate management office. The office will pass on their complaints to the Communications Authority and safety tests will be conducted.

Some residents in public housing estates had filed complaints with democratic lawmaker Andrew Wan Siu-kin in March, saying they suffered from cancer due to the proximity of radio base stations.

A man who lives near the rooftop of a public housing estate in Sheung Shui said three of his family had been diagnosed with cancer and he believed their health had been affected by radiation generated by the number of base stations installed on the rooftop.

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