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Saturday, 06 October 2001 | About Us | Contact Us | Mobile Edition | Advertising
 
New Straits Times >> National

Penang probing EMW emissions

PENANG, Fri. ó The Government has asked experts to determine the extent of the danger posed by electro magnetic wave (EMW) emissions from telecommunications structures, amidst claims that they can cause cancer.

Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon said today authorities have asked the Atomic Energy Licencing Board and the Malaysian Institute of Nuclear technology to conduct a study.

He said the State Government and the Federal Energy, Communications and Multimedia Ministry will await the findings of experts from these bodies to provide a clearer picture of the perceived threat.

Public anxiety had been rising, particularly among residents in areas where telecommunication structures are located on roof-tops of residential and shoplot units, following claims that several people have died or are dying from cancer caused by EMW from such structures.

Koh said this after opening a cancer exhibition organised in conjunction with the Mount Miriam Hospital's 25th anniversary celebrations at the Equatorial Hotel.

Among those present were Lee Chong Keat, the chairman of the hospital's Board of Directors, Consultant Radiologist and Oncologist Datuk Dr Adel M Zaatar, and Friends Of Mount Miriam society president Datuk Dr Loga Bala Mohan.

State Works, Public Amenities and Transport Committee chairman Executive Councillor Datuk Koay Kar Huah, who is an electronics engineer, has been directed to work with the various Ministries and agencies to look into the technical aspects of the issue.

State Local Government, Environment and Traffic Management committee chairman Dr Teng Hock Nan, a medical doctor, will look into the medical and health aspects of the issue.

"We also have three other medical doctors in the State Exco who can contribute." Meanwhile, the Consumers Association of Penang voiced support for the decision by the State Executive Council to adopt the Housing and Local Government Ministry's guideline which bans rooftop communication towers on all residential buildings.

"In doing so, the State Government has taken the first step towards recognising the risks posed by such structures and protecting public health and safety," Consumers president S.M. Mohamed Idris said today.

"The Penang Island Municipal Council and the Seberang Prai Municipal Council must now enforce the ban." CAP also urged the Housing and Local Government Ministry to continue investigating the health risks arising from the close proximity of telecommunication towers and devices to the people, and to improve and tighten the guidelines.

"Currently, the Ministry's guidelines do not prevent transmission devices from being installed on commercial and industrial buildings. They also do not specify the distances between the devices and residential areas," he added.

Idris said CAP had been receiving complaints from an increasing number of residents and workers who are concerned about the transmission devices and towers being installed near their homes.

"In reviewing the Guideline, the Ministry and the State Government should also consult citizen groups and non-government organisations for their input and participation."

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