In Malaysia, handphones are so common that almost everybody has one. Sights of people carrying or talking on handphones are common.
In the past, handphones used to be the communication tools of businessmen and sales personnel. However, today, its usage has penetrated into all levels of society ranging from the working population to housewives, and from college students to primary children. It is not unusual for a family to own five or six handphones. Furthermore, shops selling handphones and pre-paid card stations have sprung up everywhere, and television and newspaper advertisements by telecommunication and handphone companies are proliferating. All these indicate the pervasive use of handphones in the country.
Malaysia’s Handphone Growth Rates Rank Number 3 In The World
Malaysia has one of the highest handphone usage rates in the world. The growth of its handphone market is extremely fast. In Asia, its growth rate is third after China and Japan.
According to recent statistics, the country’s handphone users, comprising registered users and pre-paid users, number as many as 7.26 million. In 1996, the number of users stood only at 1.51 million, indicating that the increase in handphone usage has grown by 5 times within a period of 6 years. These figures also indicate that one in every three Malaysians is a handphone user.
Due to the large number of handphone users and intense competition among telecommunication companies provide better services, telecommunication companies have rushed to erect base stations at various locations across the country. In the past one year, these base stations have not only increased in numbers, but are also getting closer to residential areas. At the same time, protests and complaints by community have increased, with a common request calling for the removal of these base stations.
Since last year, increasingly large number of complaints pertaining to base stations have appeared in the media. Across the country, in both large and small towns, people have begun to complain of the detrimental effect that these base stations have caused to their health. Many people have expressed that since the erection of a base station near their homes, they have experienced increased frequencies of giddiness, numbness in both arms, breathing difficulties, insomnia, and titinus. Others complain about having to see the doctors more often because of poor health.
In September 2001, there were media reports about one resident living in Kuantan Road (Penang) who complained that the installation of a base station had caused 6 members living in the same building to contract cancer, with 4 subsequently dying from the disease. This report struck fear in the hearts of many people and escalated the public’s concern on the harm brought by base stations. This has also led to much mental distress for people living close to these base stations. In some areas, quite a number of base stations are erected on top of high-rise buildings or shophouses, increasing people’s concern over their safety.
Removal Of Illegally Constructed Handphone Base Stations.
In reality, these complaints and concerns suggest weakness in the regulation of base stations. According to a related department, many base stations are illegal, and only a small number of them have officially obtained approval for erection. According to the 1988 Malaysia’s Telecommunications department guidelines, when a telecommunications company wishes to construct a base station, it has to apply to a multi-organizational committee and seek the approval of the local government and town council. Otherwise, the Telecommunications department has the right to have the base stations removed. These guidelines also stipulate that the structure of base stations must comply with safety standards and must be kept at least 150 meters away from residential areas. Licenses are to be renewed yearly.
Because these guidelines are not legally enforced, the number of base stations has continued to increase in response to the needs of handphone customers. Given that more than half the base stations are illegally constructed, it would seem that the above guidelines are practically useless.
Recently, one town council has revealed that new guidelines have changed the minimum distance between base stations and residential areas from 150m to 35m. The council explained that the change was made because there has yet to be scientific evidence that radiation from base stations is harmful to health! This new ruling is truly regretful, as it shows that the community’s health and the environment can be sacrificed for personal convenience and economic gains.
Undeniably, the handphone is one of the most convenient communication tools in modern times. It is also a status symbol, and to some youngsters, a new toy, and a fashion statement.
Youngsters seem to particularly like to wear their handphones on their waists or hang them around their chests as a fashionable ornament. With the advent of SMS, the popularity of the handphone has soared, even exceeding that of emails.
A Handphone Attached To The Ear Is Akin to a Microwave Station Attached To The Body.
Although the makes of handphones have become more modern and user-friendly, we should not be influenced by their exterior appearances, and forget that they are actually mini electromagnetic stations with hidden dangers. When we carry handphones or have them close to our ears, it is as good as having microwave stations attached to our brains.
Handphones have truly brought much convenience to communication. However, it has also caused our lives to be surrounded in an environment full of electromagnetic waves that endanger our health and harming the natural environment. If this is the price to pay to enjoy the benefits of technological advancement, perhaps we should ponder deeply on whether the price to pay is too hefty.
Safe Distance between Handphone Base Station and Residential Area is at least 200m.
The handphone is actually a mini-electromagnetic station. When we use the handphone, it will emit low frequency waves and high frequency radiation, just like when we use the microwave oven.
Although the electricity used by handphones is lower than that by radios and televisions, its electromagnetic penetration level is much stronger, a situation exacerbated by the fact that the human body is a conductor that can transmit radiation. Whenever we use handphones, about 20-80% of the microwave radiation is absorbed by the body and the brain, with the amount of absorption depending on the handphone model, the antenna type and the distance from the base station. Usually, handphones without antennas caused more microwaves to be absorbed by the brain, and the further one is away from the telecommunication station, the stronger will the handphone’s radiation need to be in order to receive signals.
Specialists also said that the microwave absorbed from using handphones in excess of 2 minutes may cause damage to the brain. Scientific research in Europe has discovered that using the handphone is as good as cooking our brain. Research has shown that when using the handphone, the heat around the ears, cheek and head increases by 4.8 times. In addition, Russian researchers have discovered that handphones can increase the temperature above the skin by 4.7oC. This type of damage by heat may cause skin cancer or premature aging.
On the other hand, experts are of the opinion that the negative electromagnetic field emitted by base stations are above 2 GHz. Hence, erecting base stations in cities or near residential areas are not wise directions
Drastic Increase In Electromagnetic Radiation Yearly
155 years ago, the telegram was invented due to the needs of warfare, and enabled man to control time and space. This invention has greatly facilitated communication, but it has also caused mankind and the earth to be “electrified”. In recent years, rapid technological advancements in telecommunication and the popularity of handphones have led to the creation of large number of base stations all around us. This has subjected mankind and the earth to more serious electromagnetic harm. A recent article titled “No Place To Hide” showed the increase in radiation levels between 1978 and 1999 in the hope that this can raise the concern of those who care about health and the earth.
In 1978, research by the American environmental protection department showed that the average populations in large cities face about 0.005uV electromagnetic radiation per every square centimeter. Then, the two large cities of New York and Chicago only faced 0.002uV electromagnetic radiation.
In 1999, Dr. William Lee (physicist and CEO of AlphaLab, which specialize in manufacturing electromagnetic waves detector) reported that measurements taken at 5pm in the afternoon showed that electromagnetic levels average 0.01 to 0.1uV. In other words, there has been an increase of 10 to 100 times over 20 years.
EMSciTek Consulting Co.’s CEO, physicist Dr. Bill Curry said that when he took a train from Washington to Stanford, the detected electromagnetic levels outside the window averaged 0.1uV per square centimeters. Yet while passing New York, the electromagnetic levels detected was 100 to 300uV per square centimeters. This means that compared to 20 years ago, the average radiation levels in New York have increased by 100,000 times.