'Anti-radiation' trousers for mobile users

A new style of Dockers trousers will shield wearers from their mobile's emissions.

Clothing manufacturer Levi Strauss is gearing up to launch a pair of trousers with an "anti-radiation" mobile phone pocket, prompted by customer concern over possible health dangers caused by mobile phone use.

Company officials confirmed on Thursday that its forthcoming Dockers S-Fit men's trousers will include a mobile phone pocket with a "radiation-reducing" lining.

Levi's claims that this lining "might reduce" possible health effects from mobile phone use--even though scientists have not yet found firm proof that mobile phone use is dangerous.

"The Dockers trousers will have a mobile phone pocket with a shielding lining between the phone and the skin," a Levi's spokesman said. He added that the pocket would not also be shielded on the outside--this could interfere with the phone's ability to communicate with the mobile network and possibly cause it to use more power to overcome the shielding.

Precise details about the nature of this radiation-reducing material are not available. The Levi's spokesman said that the lining is 97 percent cotton, with the remaining 3 percent being a substance called "MDF"--but he was unable to give any further information.

The Dockers S-Fit trousers are scheduled to hit Europe's high streets in early 2003. There are no plans to launch them in the U.S.

Last year, Levi's teamed up with European electronics manufacturer Philips to launch a jacket with a built-in mobile phone and MP3 player, and it seems that this initiative is one factor in the launch of the radiation-reducing mobile phone pocket.

"Our customer feedback found that people wanted a bit more protection. We are not implying that mobile phones are dangerous. We're responding to feedback from consumers," said the Levi's spokesman.

Mobile phone radiation is one of the most contentious issues in the telecoms industry. Mobile phone operators insist their products keep to strict emission guidelines, and point out there is no scientific proof that exposure to mobile emissions--either from a handset or from a base station--are harmful.

Many members of the public, though, remain concerned.

The government-backed Stewart Inquiry recommended in 2000 that a precautionary approach should be taken to the issue of mobile phone safety, and last year the British Medical Association warned that children could be damaging their internal organs by sending text messages.