Requests swamp mobile mast safety test registration

An offer from the Radiocommunications Agency to test the safety of mobile masts sited on schools and hospitals had attracted a flood of interest

Hundreds of schools and hospitals have asked the Radiocommunications Agency (RA) to test whether mobile phone masts located on their premises are breaking safety guidelines.

As ZDNet UK reported earlier this year, the RA is conducting an audit programme under which it will measure the emission levels of 100 mobile phone base stations across the UK. The agency has invited schools and hospitals to register their interest in taking part in the survey. A total of 248 organisations have so far asked to be included.

This response illustrates the extent of the worry about mobile masts, even though scientists say they have not yet found evidence that emissions from base stations can threaten human health. A similar survey carried out by the RA last year found no evidence that mobile masts are breaking safety guidelines.

The large number of responses already received also presents the RA with something of a problem, as it is only planning to carry out 100 assessments.

"We won't be able to do them all," a source within the RA told ZDNet UK. "We'll have to take a look at them to see if they all fit the criteria we've laid down, and reject the ones that don't."

Schools and hospitals have until 1 September, 2002, to contact the RA if they want to be included, so interest is expected from hundreds more sites.

Those who are situated in more remote parts of the UK may be more likely to be included in the survey. "We will then look at their location when choosing between applicants, as we want to conduct a UK-wide audit," said the source.

Last year's audit tested the emission levels of mobile phone masts at 100 sites. It found that in most cases the maximum levels found were many thousands of times below safety limits. None of the masts tested were breaking safety limits.

Schools and hospitals that wish to be included in the 2002 audit should register their interest at the RA's Web site.

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