The Radiation Protection Institute of the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission, at the weekend said available scientific knowledge indicate that the low level of emission from telecom masts pose no danger to the citizenry.
“There is no cause to worry as long as emission levels are kept within the compliance level,” Dr Joseph K. Amoako a radiologists stressed.
He however recommended the need for regular monitoring of all base stations or telecom masts in the country to ensure that emissions stayed within the required limits.
Dr Amoako made this known at a day’s public education workshop on: “Public Education on Electromagnetic Fields and Health,” organised by the Ghana Investment Fund for Electronic Communications (GIFEC) to discredit speculation that radiation from the masts caused cancer.
Speaking on: “Radio Signals from Mobile Phone Base Stations,” Dr Amoako said, mobile phones and their base stations transmit and receive signals using electromagnetic waves also referred to as electromagnetic fields, or radio waves.
“Electromagnetic waves are emitted by many natural and man-made sources and play a very important part in our lives. We are warmed by the electromagnetic emissions of the sun and we see using the part of the electromagnetic spectrum that our eyes detect as visible light.
“All electromagnetic radiation consists of oscillating electric and magnetic fields and the frequency, which is the number of times per second at which the wave oscillates, determines their properties and the use that can be made of them.
“A mobile phone sends and receives information (voice messages, fax, computer data, etc) by radio communication. Radio frequency signals are transmitted from the phone to the nearest base station and incoming signals (carrying the speech from the person to whom the phone user is listening) are sent from the base station to the phone at a slightly different frequency.
“Base stations link mobile phones to the rest of the mobile and fixed phone network. Once the signal reaches a base station it can be transmitted to the main telephone network, either by telephone cables or by higher frequency radio links between an antenna (e.g. dish) at the base station and another at a terminal connected to the main telephone network.
“The cells overlap at the edges to ensure the mobile phone users always remain within range of a base station. Without sufficient base stations in the right locations, mobile phones will not work.
“If a person with a mobile phone starts to move out of one cell and into another, the controlling network hands over communications to the adjacent base station,” he said.
Dr Amoako said even though available data from researches conducted into the link between exposure to radiation from such facilities and health did not confirm adverse health effects, regularly monitoring of the facilities would compel their owners, including the telecommunication companies, radio and television stations, and all other stakeholders to strike a balance between the deployment of the technology and the need to ensure public safety.
Dr Vincent Viyon Ahove, Public Health Specialist of the World Health Organisation (WHO) explained that the levels of exposure from base stations and wireless networks were so low that the temperature increase were insignificant and do not affect human health.
He said detailed reviews conducted so far had not revealed any hazard specific to different Radio Frequency (RF)modulations.
“Recent WHO fact sheet Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity has not been shown to cause symptoms.
“From all evidence accumulated so far, no adverse short- or long-term health effects have been shown to occur from the RF signals produced by base stations. Since wireless networks produce generally lower RF signals than base stations, no adverse health effects are expected from exposure to them,” he said.
Dr Gideon Quarcoo, Deputy Minister of Communications explained that the new guidelines drawn to regulate the mounting of towers in the country made co-location mandatory in order to reduce the number of telecom masts being erected all over the country.
He noted that government through the GIFEC was working to address the concerns of the public about the increasing number of telecom masts which include safety, closeness to residents and noise from generators.
Dr Quarcoo said government was committed in finding possible means to help educate the public through workshops and the media to erase their fear about the masts.
The Deputy Minister stressed that there was no available basis for the fear being expressed by Ghanaians on the health hazards of masts and that GIFEC owned Ghanaians a duty to educate them about the issue.
Mr Kofi Attor, Chief Executive Officer GIFEC said the centre would continue to educate and ensure public safety through constant monitoring of facilities of telecom operators.