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Study Warns Of Radiation
Risk On Trains
According to the island's first study of the levels of electromagnetic radiation in train carriages, the level in electric commuter trains was the highest among all train carriage types.
Moreover, the average radiation level in all carriages is higher when trains pass through electrified sections of the railway compared to lines that have not been electrified, the study concluded.
Even though scientists have yet to agree definitively on the effects of exposure to electromagnetic radiation on one's health, the World Health Organization has determined that magnetic fields from electrical facilities could be carcinogenic and has urged people to reduce their exposure to electromagnetic radiation.
The research further suggested that because radiation levels in train carriages combined with cell phone radiation might lead to excess exposure to electromagnetic radiation. It urged the public to avoid using cell phones when taking trains and asked those who work on trains to have their health checked regularly.
Liao Yung-po, an associate professor at Chung Shan Medical University's Public Health Department who conducted the study, noted that when the train passes through an electrified section, the radiation level in the carriages of electric trains, called Electric Multiple Units or EMUs, averages 33.08 milligauss (mG), followed by the average radiation level of 24.16 mG in the carriages of Tze-Chiang Express trains.
The average radiation levels in slower Chu-kuang and Fu-hsing trains are 3.27 mG and 2.04 mG respectively when the train passes through electrified sections of the railway, Liao added.
According to the study, when trains pass through railway lines without electrification, the radiation levels in the carriages of the Tze-Chiang, Chu-kuang and Fu-Hsing trains are only 0.41 mG, 0.58 mG and 0.53 mG respectively.
The radiation levels detected in train carriages are all under the upper limit of 833 mG set by the Environmental Protection Administration. But the WTO's International Agency for Research on Cancer proposed that children exposed to magnetic fields exceeding 4 mG for prolonged periods of time had twice the incidence of leukemia than those exposed to lower magnetic fields.
According to local research, the radiation levels in the carriages of the Tze-Chinag trains are over 4 mG when the express passes through nearly 63 percent of railway sections in Taiwan, while the lowest radiation level detected in the EMU's carriages was 5.7 mG.
Liao said further research was needed on whether radiation found in train carriages was high enough to harm their health.