The actions of a corporation impact the community in a host of ways, even if not all members of that community choose to directly transact or interact with that corporation. Taking up the new role of Chief Sustainability Officer at Telstra, this is something I have been thinking about recently.

mobile-base-stationTelstra is pervasive, we are in every community across Australia, whether providing communication services such as mobile coverage, payphones or fixed lines, sponsoring a local event, purchasing goods and services, a presence through a Telstra shopfront or in some other way.

Therefore it is important to me that we communicate with communities, not just our (large) customer base – the good things we do, when we make mistakes and also the things that might concern communities. I look forward to being part of that dialogue.

One of the things I’ve seen since joining Telstra is that there are some members of the community who are genuinely concerned about the health effects from Electromagnetic Energy (EME). Many things in our everyday lives use radio signals to communicate and emit EME. These include AM and FM radios, TVs, baby monitors, remote garage door openers, police and emergency service two-way radio and, of course, mobile phones and mobile network infrastructure. Without EME these everyday radio communications services simply wouldn’t work.

This does not mean that we treat this issue trivially. Telstra takes its advice about EME from the World Health Organisation, who reviews all the research about the health impacts of EME, particularly in the area of mobile phones and base stations. Telstra is committed to communicating updates from the WHO when they become available.

Recently, one of the WHO Agencies – ‘IARC’, the International Agency for Research on Cancer – which looks at causes of cancer, classified radio signals from mobile phones as “possibly carcinogenic” and identified that more research was needed. Notwithstanding the current WHO conclusions that there are no adverse health effects established from using mobile phones (WHO Fact Sheet 193 June 2011), what this means is that more research is still needed on long term mobile phone use to exclude any possibility of negative health impacts.

However, because we want to make sure that all the community has access to information about these issues, we’ve made a series of short video clips that the wider community can access which talks about the IARC findings and WHO conclusions, how you can check if your mobile complies with the safety limits, and some simple steps to reduce exposure from your mobile. It is important this information is available to everyone, especially Telstra customers and you can access this via Telstra’s EME web site.

If you want more information on EME there are a range of information, health and government websites you can access such as:

You can also contact our EME helpdesk via the Telstra EME web site. I look forward to blogging more about the issues that impact on our communities.

Let me know what issues are important to you, or what initiatives you want to hear about and I’ll write on those in the future.