16 February 2019
Mrs. Lee (inset) blames her stage three cervical cancer on the radio base stations at the rooftop of their residential building in Tseung Kwan O. Photo: HKEJ
Mrs. Lee (inset) blames her stage three cervical cancer on the radio base stations at the rooftop of their residential building in Tseung Kwan O. Photo: HKEJ

Rooftop cellphone base stations stir up cancer scare

Hong Kong man said three members of his family have been diagnosed with cancer over the past five years which he blames on radiation generated by numerous mobile phone base stations installed at the rooftop of the building where they live.

The man, surnamed Liu, made the allegation after he discovered that at least 21 radio base stations for mobile communication devices had been installed above the roof or near their flat at Tai Ping Estate in Sheung Shui.

Liu’s case is similar to 31 others who sought assistance from legislator Andrew Wan Siu-kin of the Democratic Party over the past week.

In a news briefing on Sunday, Wan said the complainants included nine persons diagnosed with cancer and 15 cases of various physical discomforts, all of which are being attributed to radiation from cellphone base stations, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

However, the government said its own investigations into radio base stations for mobile devices revealed that radiation levels from these transmitters were all within international safety standards.

Hong Kong has one of the highest levels of penetration of mobile phone service in the world.

According to the latest government data, there are 13.7 registered mobile phone subscribers for every 10 persons in the territory, which indicates that many subscribers are using more than one cellphone.

In another case, a 60-year-old man surnamed Lee, who lives with his wife near the rooftop of a residential block at Po Lam Estate in Tseung Kwan O for the past 18 years, said at least 10 radio base stations were installed at their building about 10 years ago.

Since then, his wife has been suffering from insomnia, unstable blood pressure, and urinary problems. Worse, she has been diagnosed with stage three cervical cancer.

He said he filed a complaint with the Office of the Communications Authority five years ago, but its staff said a site inspection showed the radiation level in their flat was within safety limits.

A man surnamed Yuen has been living for the past 13 years with his mother and a younger sister at a rooftop flat of a private residential building in Tuen Mun where 10 radio base stations have been installed.

He said he was diagnosed with angiofibroma in his finger joints 10 years ago, then his condition improved only to suffer a relapse five years ago. Then his younger sister developed the same condition.

Yuen said his family does not have a history of such illness, which is why he believes it was brought about by prolonged exposure to radiation.

Wan said the exposure limits for radiofrequency fields (1800 MHz) adopted by Hong Kong government follow the guidance level set by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP).

However, he said, that level is 9 million microwatt per square meter, which is higher than the standard adopted by Belgium, Italy, Russia and China.

In view of the growing number of complaints from affected residents, Wan has called for a comprehensive investigation to be jointly conducted by the OFCA, Commerce and Economic Development Bureau, and the Food and Health Bureau.

In its reply, the OFCA said the World Health Organization recognizes the limits set by ICNIRP in Guidelines for Limiting Exposure to Time-Varying Electric, Magnetic, and Electromagnetic Fields, which are also adopted by many other countries worldwide.

In the past three years, 800 site inspections and measurements of radiation levels were conducted in Hong Kong households, and there were no readings exceeding the safety limits, the OFCA said.

The most recent measurements of radiation levels taken at 3,500 radio base stations also did not exceed safety limits, the authority said.

Dr. Dawson Fong To-sang, a neurosurgeon, said scientific studies have yet to confirm that emissions by mobile phone devices and radio base stations are harmful to humans.

But as a doctor, he said he believes the issue is a matter of public concern.

He urged the public to stay away from base stations and use hands-free headsets while talking on mobile phones.

[Chinese version 中文版]

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