RMIT recently called in a Melbourne doctor to assess
information from the staff diagnosed with the tumours but he found no obvious
link with "any specific environmental hazard", a university statement said.
Telstra, which along with Optus reportedly has mobile phone
equipment on top of the building, said yesterday it would co-operate with the
university's investigation. "This equipment complies with strict health and
safety standards, and is regularly tested to ensure ongoing compliance," the
phone company said.
While staff were "anxious and concerned", the university was
initially reluctant to close the top floors, Mr McGowan said. "They were
reluctant at first because they didn't want to create a panic."
The university has started notifying students at the building, many of whom are
from overseas. However, serious concerns were not held for the students.
RMIT investigated radio frequency and air quality after the
first two cases emerged in 1999 and 2001, but all the results were well below
the recommended Australian standards, a university spokeswoman said. "It was
thoroughly tested," she said. Yesterday's action was prompted after a third case
was reported by the institution's occupational health and safety unit a month
ago, when it emerged that other academics had also fallen ill.
"We're looking at everything around the area," the spokeswoman
said. But Mr McGowan said the university must be accountable for health and
safety checks "across the board" after the initial testing in 2001 was not
followed up. "These cases have only coincidentally come to people's attention
rather than through some systematic monitoring process," he said.
The results of the RMIT investigation are expected in two weeks.