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Sunday, 29 April 2012 12:32

Mobile phones are, most likely, not a health hazard

A wide-ranging review of research into the possible adverse effects on human health of cellphone radiation has concluded there is no evidence of any, but the researchers still have reservations.

The 348 page report by the UK's Health Protection Agency's (HPA) independent Advisory Group on Non-ionising Radiation (AGNIR) 'Health Effects from Radio Frequency Electromagnetic Fields' reviewed laboratory studies of cells and animals as well as experiments in humans and observational (epidemiological) studies of humans.

However the chairman of the group announced the results with the caveat: "There are still limitations to the published research that preclude a definitive judgment," adding: "But the evidence overall has not demonstrated any adverse effects on human health from exposure to radiofrequency fields below internationally accepted guideline levels."

One of the greatest unknowns is in regard to long term effects. The report notes: "As mobile phone technology has only been in widespread public use relatively recently, there is little information on risks beyond 15 years from first exposure. It is therefore important to continue to monitor the evidence, including that from national brain tumour trends. These have so far given no indication of any risk."

Dr John Cooper, director of the HPA's Centre for Radiation, Chemical and Environmental Hazards, said: "As this is a relatively new technology, the HPA will continue to advise a precautionary approach and keep the science under close review. The HPA recommends that excessive use of mobile phones by children should be discouraged and mobile phone Specific Energy Absorption Rates (SAR) values should be clearly marked in the phone sales literature." The HPA's full response is available here.

The AGNIR report updates its previous review undertaken in 2003. It considers the scientific evidence on exposure to radiofrequency (RF) electromagnetic fields produced by mobile phone technologies and other wireless devices, such as Wi-Fi, as well as television and radio transmitters.

Key conclusions were:

- A large number of studies have now been published on cancer risks in relation to mobile phone use. Overall, the results of studies have not demonstrated that the use of mobile phones causes brain tumours or any other type of cancer;

- Studies of other RF field exposures, such as those at work and from RF transmitters, have been more limited but have not given evidence that cancer is caused by these exposures;

- Research on other potential long-term effects of RF field exposures has been very limited, but the results provide no substantial evidence of adverse health effects; in particular for cardiovascular morbidity and reproductive function.

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