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Monday, July 02, 2012

‘Electromagnetic fields, unavoidable’…Johnson advocates usage of hands-free

Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu

THE Minister of Heath, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu has said electromagnetic fields are unavoidable part of the environment despite its side effect on human health, just as his counterpart in Communications Technology, Mrs. Omobola Johnson has warned on length of calls, advising on use of hands-free.

Speaking at the first-ever West African Conference on Electromagnetic Field Exposure and Health in Lagos recently, the minister through his representative, Dr. Mrs. Patience Osinubi, the national coordinator, National Cancer Control Programme in the ministry, said the magnetic field component of electromagnetic field has the capability to penetrate the body.

This, he said, has been studied in correlation with health especially in the area of cancer related diseases.

He affirmed there is an increase in the number of communication masts in urban areas which give rise to the concern of whether people living near high tension wires or communication masts are at a higher risk of developing cancer.

The reason for the fear, the ministry noted is as a result of research findings which some asserted a possible association between living close to high tension cables and cancer of the blood as well as leukaemia in children while some other findings said there is no association with limited evidence to back up their stands.

Although studies carried out on electrical occupation, power station operators and telephone line operators have proved that people in those set of occupations have a higher risk of brain tumor, leukaemia and male breast cancer than expected.

Prof. Chukwu further expressed his ministry’s readiness to partner with any ministry in terms of research.

In her address to the two-day conference, Communications Technology minister, Mrs. Omobola Johnson, who was represented by the Executive Commissioner, Stakeholder Management, Hon. Okechukwu Itanyi, emphasised the importance of consistently conducting researches and communicate same to the end-users.

She also noted that mobile phones usually are known for low-powered radiofrequency transmitters, operating at frequencies between 450 and 2700 Mega hertz (MHz) with peak powers in the range of 0.1 to 2 watts.

She explained that handset only transmits power when it is turned on, hence the radiofrequency exposure to a user, maintaining that the radiofrequency falls off rapidly with increasing distance from the handset.

“A person using a mobile phone 30-40 centimeters away from his or her body, for instance when text messaging, accessing the internet or using a hands-free device, will therefore have a much lower exposure to radiofrequency fields than someone holding the handset against the ear,” she said, stressing that users of mobile could do well by reducing the number of minutes or length of calls.

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