China’s massive radio antenna facility for its military covering more than 1000 square miles is ‘possibly carcinogenic to humans’ according to a report by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.
The Wireless Electromagnetic Method (WEM) project took 13 years to build but researchers said that it was finally ready to emit extremely low frequency radio waves, also known as ELF waves. Those waves have been linked to cancer by the World Health Organisation-affiliated International Agency for Research on Cancer, South China Morning Post reported Monday.
The exact site of the facility has not been disclosed, but information available in Chinese research journals suggests it is in the Huazhong region, an area in central China that includes Hubei, Henan and Hunan provinces and is home to more than 230 million people – greater than the population of Brazil, SCMP report stated.
ELF waves have frequencies ranging from 30 to 3 Hz, meaning their wavelengths can be up to 10,000 and 100,000 kilometers long, respectively. Because of their great lengths, ELF waves are able to communicate small bits of information to submarine crews at depths where seawater would interfere with other radio transmissions.
Russia, the United States and India were previously the only countries believed to have established ELF facilities for communicating with submarines lurking at extraordinary depths. The US Navy's ELF sites operate at 76 Hz, according to a 2001 report by Federation of American Scientists.
ELF broadcast communications allow submarines to retain a "high degree of stealth and flexibility in speed and depth, but are low data rate, submarine-unique and short-to-submarine only," according to GlobalSecurity.org.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer, part of the World Health Organisation, has previously warned that ELF waves are “possibly carcinogenic to humans”.
Numerous epidemiological and experimental studies conducted by researchers around the world have linked long-term ELF exposure to an increased risk of childhood leukaemia.
In a 500-page report constantly updated since 2007, the WHO has documented a large number of academic investigations linking ELF radiation to a range of illnesses including delusions, sleep deprivation, stress, depression, breast and brain tumours, miscarriages and suicide.
Though many results remain inconclusive, the WHO said the implementation of precautionary procedures to reduce exposure was “reasonable and warranted”.