Government: Mobiles are safe

A report from the Health Protection Agency finds no link between mobile phones and ill health, but urges further investigation into long-term effects and the impact on children

There is no link between short-term mobile-phone use and ill health, according to a report by the Health Protection Agency.

The 2007 update on progress made by the agency's Mobile Telecommunications and Health Research (MTHR) Programme — established in 2001 — suggests that mobile phones are not responsible for brain cancer, discrepancies in brain function or the symptoms of so-called "electrical hypersensitivity".

However, the authors of the report wrote that the long-term effects of mobile phone usage remain unclear, as only a limited number of those taking part in the studies were mobile phone users for 10 years or more. They also suggest that the effects of radio frequencies on children may differ from those on adults, and they proposed extensions to the programme to investigate these two knowledge gaps.

"This is a very substantial report from a large research programme," said MTHR chairman Professor Lawrie Challis on Wednesday. "The work reported today has all been published in respected peer-reviewed scientific or medical journals. The results are so far reassuring but there is still a need for more research, especially to check that no effects emerge from longer-term phone use from adults and from use by children."

Another area where the MTHR group is proposing further investigation is that of Tetra, the radio communications service used by the emergency services. The group has also examined the effects of picocells, but found them to be well within international safety limits.

The MTHR report follows a three-year study released in July by the Electromagnetics and Health Laboratory at the University of Essex, that found no links between mobile base stations and ill health. However, a Dutch study recently concluded that mobile phones did hold the potential to interfere with intensive-care equipment in hospitals if they were placed very close together.

Mobile phone signals were also recently blamed for a collapse in US bee colonies, but that turned out to be the result of a virus rather than radio activity.


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