The ACCEH said that in its test of 13 types of handheld electronic fans purchased at shopping malls in Seoul, 12 emitted high levels of electromagnetic radiation.
The tested fans emitted an average of 647.7 miligauss of electromagnetic radiation, with a low of 281mG and a high of 1,020mG. Four of them were above the Korean government’s safety standard for plugged-in devices, which is 833mG, though there is not one for battery-powered items such as handheld electronic fans.
|Handheld fans tested by the Asian Citizen’s Center for Environment and Health (ACCEH)|
Used at a distance, however, the risk from exposure to electromagnetic waves from the fans dropped dramatically. The ACCEH advised consumers to place the fans on a desk or hold them at least 25 centimeters from their face and body, while urging children and pregnant women not to use the devices.
The extremely low-frequency magnetic fields detected from handheld electronic fans are also found in electric heat pads and blankets, vacuum cleaners, hair dryers and various other household appliances, said Park Dong-uk, professor of environmental health at Korea National Open University, in a telephone interview with The Korea Herald.
The potential health risks result from the accumulation of the harmful waves emitted from all of these devices from daily lives, rather than directly from one single source, he said, adding that the high levels emitted by the handheld fans provided ample grounds to be concerned.
Researcher Kim Sung-gon from Ministry of Science and ICT told The Korea Herald that the safety standards cited by the ACCEH do not apply to handheld fans, as they are powered by a direct current battery. The government safety standard is for appliances with a frequency of 60 hertz, powered through an electric cable.
|A handheld fan is tested by the Asian Citizen’s Center for Environment and Health (ACCEH)|
In order to determine whether the levels of electromagnetic radiation were harmful, as claimed by the nonprofit organization, the Ministry will first have to determine what frequency is generated through the motor of the fans.
Kim said the Ministry had not thought of testing the handheld fans prior to the ACCEH’s claim due to a lack of precedent that suggests such items could pose health threats. The Ministry of ICT plans to carry out an immediate investigation in to the case of handheld electronic fans and share the probe results with the public as soon as possible.
By Lim Jeong-yeo (firstname.lastname@example.org)