Latest: Children at risk from mobiles

British scientist accuses mobile manufacturers of using Stewart Report to bewilder the public and says mobiles could be risky for children

A British scientist has warned that pre-adolescent children are at the greatest risk of suffering adverse health effects from mobile phone use.

Writing in The Lancet, Dr Gerard Hyland warns that the low-intensity, pulsed radiation used by mobile phones exert subtle non-thermal influences on living organisms. These can also affect a number of brain functions, according to Hyland.

"Many health problems reported anecdotally do tend to be neurological," wrote Hyland, referring to suggestions that mobile phone use was responsible for headaches and lack of sleep. "It cannot be denied that the non-thermal effects of MWR [microwave radiation] used in mobile telephony do have the potential to induce adverse health effects of the kind reported," he added.

Hyland believes that young children are at greatest risk because the absorption of GSM radiation is greatest in an object about the size of a child's head.

The government-commissioned Stewart Enquiry, released in May last year, recommended guidelines on a minimum age limit for mobile phone users and advised that mobile phone users took a cautious approach to potential health risks.

Hyland accuses the mobile phone industry of taking advantage of the uncertainty over safety issues. "The Stewart Report, published in May, 2000, makes some sensible recommendations, but unfortunately some of its greyer issues are now being exploited by the industry to obfuscate the issue," he claimed.

However, mobile phone manuacturers deny that they are failing to keep consumers informed over mobile phone safety. "On the contrary, we do support further research into this issue and provide funding for this. We take the issue of safely very seriously", said David Stoneham, senior manager for communications at Nokia.

Full story to follow.

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