Thursday, 25 April 2019

Community concern in Ghana leads to mast survey and new regulations



In response to community concerns about the rapid growth of mobile phone networks in Ghana a government survey has found base stations operate at a small fraction of the international safety standards.


“The result generally shows a compliance with the ICNIRP limit of 0.024 % but was 108 times higher than a similar survey carried out in Ghana 2 y ago” the Radiation Protection Board of Ghana survey found.


Researchers from the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission’s Radiation Protection Institute and the University of Ghana measured 76 base stations sites in 46 towns to check the exposure levels in residential areas, schools and market places and compared the measured results with the guidelines set by the International Commission of Non-Ionising Radiation (ICNIRP).


The results were 108 times higher than that found in a 2009 survey, but still significantly lower than the ICNIRP limits, because the earlier survey did not include rooftop masts which tend to be closer to public areas.


These concerns were very strong in communities such as Aburi, Kitase, Ahwerease Ashongman, Macarthy Hill and Tema where the number of cell base stations have increased rapidly in recent years.

This lead to a media debate and discussions in Parliament about the dangers of radio frequency radiation from telecom towers to human health.

There are also complaints about noise, vibrations and fumes from standby power generators that base stations often used in developing countries without extensive electricity networks. 


Some base stations have also been placed very close to homes and this has led to litigation.


In response, the National Communications Authority (NCA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have proposed co-location of telecom towers as a licensing requirement for operators.


Recent deployment guidelines introduced by the NCA require that any mast situated in a residential area must not be higher than 35 metres; operators must consult individually with neighbours within 50 metres radius of the mast; group consultation with neighbours within 500 metres radius; and one week notice to participants before group consultations.


The survey was funded by the Radiation Protection Institute of the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission and the National Communication Authority.


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