Mr Leon du Toit from the Directorate of Radiation Control of the Department of Health in South Africa is frequently quoted by the mobile industry & Council officials as saying that “local and other authorities, in considering the environmental impact of any particular base station, do not need to and should not attempt, from a public health point of view, to set any restrictions with respect to parameters such as height of the mast, distance to the mast, and duration of exposure.” DRC – Leon du Toit’s letter
However in this study published in 2012 the SA Journal of Radiology the authors note that “the DRC [Directorate of Radiation Control] is not a juristic person and has no locus standi or legal capacity to take decisions, issue licences, determine conditions or function on its own. The common idea that the DRC is the ‘regulatory authority’ is not only wrong, but also without legal foundation.”
Although the study considers the negligence of the DRC with respect to ionising radiation, there are useful parallels in the way they fail to adequately protect the public from the effects of non-ionising radiation as well.
Radiation protection and the safe use of X-ray equipment: Laws, regulations and responsibilities
Background: South Africa’s regulatory framework for electromagnetic medical devices has come under considerable criticism. Here it is reviewed in terms of how it has given form to protective measures against ionising radiation. The Hazardous Substances Act provides for effective protection against radiation, but has been undermined by poor administration and uncertainty about regulations and licensing conditions. The legal weight of enforcing licensing conditions through a website without proper consultation with all parties concerned is questionable and ineffective…
Charles P Herbst, PhD (Department of Medical Physics, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein)
Gerhard H Fick, DCL (Department of Private Law, University of the Free State)
Corresponding author: C Herbst (Gnbich@ufs.ac.za)