Technology & Health: Mobile phones not harmful says government scientists

There is  no “convincing evidence” that long-term use of mobile phones causes cancer, says a new report, although it still advises caution.

Although the report from government scientists said overall the results have not indicated that mobile phone usage causes brain tumours or any other type of cancer, it conceded that they could not be entirely sure. This is because there was “little information beyond 15 years from first exposure”. Researchers have noted the importance of continuing to monitor evidence such as from national brain tumour trends.

The Advisory Group on Non-ionising Radiation (AGNIR) undertook the research and its chairman, Professor Anthony Swerdlow said, “There are still limitations to the published research that preclude a definitive judgment, but the evidence overall has not demonstrated any adverse effects on human health from exposure to radiofrequency fields below internationally accepted guideline levels.”

Research conducted in 2003 had claimed mobile phones to be health hazards, with researchers then claiming that exposure to radiofrequency (RF) electromagnetic fields from mobile phones, televisions, radio transmitters and other wireless devices adversely affect human health.

They had warned that using mobile phones causes brain tumours and cancer and even lead to infertility.

According to the new study, RF field exposure below guideline levels does not adversely affect health. The presence of RF fields cannot be detected by people, said the report.

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.”

Besides cautioning children against “excessive use” of mobile phones, the HPA has recommended that phone sales literature should come clearly marked with Specific Energy Absorption Rates (SAR) values.

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