The Ghana Investment Fund for Electronic Communications (GIFEC) organised a seminar in Lawra to talk on the issue of radiation from telecom equipment like masts, cell towers, and mobile phones.
Over the years, there have been several concerns about emissions from these types of equipment on human health. This even resulted in a temporal ban on the erection of masts by the Ministry of Environment, Science, and Technology.
Telecommunications equipment is one of the things human greatly depend on for enhanced living. These equipment provide us access to satellites, televisions, radios, and telephones, etc. so we can communicate and make business transactions successfully.
But since the concerns triggered a ban, GIFEC had to step in. It started a nationwide education forum on the subject. The seminar was simply to educate the public on electromagnetic fields exposure and its impact on health.
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The Administrator of the GIFEC, Abraham Kofi Asante, speaking at the forum in Lawra said, “Since this discourse had not, and probably would not decrease in the foreseeable future, it has become extremely necessary to share more information about electromagnetic fields”.
The Ministry of Communications’ educational workshops started in 2010 to raise public awareness on the matter, and Asante remarked that the GIFEC seminar is here to help ease public concerns on.
“It is my hope that at the end of the workshop, issues that have created barriers and opposition to the deployment of the networks such as the perceived health effects of Radio Frequency Radiation, and laws and guidelines for regulating communications masts shall be addressed.
“By addressing these concerns comprehensively”, he added, “We believe that the fears that have been created in the communities and among our people would be minimised, if not totally eradicated”.
Since the forum was an environmental issue, a few environmental institutions were also on board. Presentations were made by experts on the subject from the Ghana Telecom Chamber, Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the National Communications Authority (NCA).
Misconceptions grew over the years about the effects of electromagnetic fields exposure from these telecommunication masts or towers constructions. Some people had the notion that such emissions are the causes of various kinds of cancer, headache, diarrhoea, stomach ache, etc.
But Dr Philip Deatanyan, a representative from the GAE, also came up with an alternative, when speaking on radio signals from mobile phone base stations. He implied that it was encouraged to have more sites installed to reduce power and ensure more signals, which could bring down the side effects of these emissions.
Dr Deatanyan also said many of the concerns were just misconceptions and had not been proven scientifically. But he also admonished that uninterrupted exposure to telephone equipment for a long period could actually affect human health adversely.
“It is highly recommended to take precautionary measures in dealing with mobile phones. Do not spend so much time on it”.
From the NCA, Kofi Datsa, who represented the Director-General, revealed that preliminary results from research conducted on telecom masts showed no adverse effects on human health. He went on to say that a distance of at least 100 metres away from telephone masts was deemed safe to the public.
Data then cautioned that it is always advisable and safe for people to buy their telecom devices (mobile phones and computers, especially) from licensed phone dealers as devices approved by the NCA or similar authorities had lesser effects of emissions.