Which? At Odds Over Phone Safety
Journalist: Lucy Sherriff
August 08, 2000
have been left without a clue - should they go hands-free or clamp their
mobile phone to their ear?
Research published by the government today indicates that hands-free mobile
phone kits are safe to use. These new findings appear to totally contradict
a recent report from Which? the consumers association magazine.
However, the two opposing views could be a result of nothing more than a
dispute over methodology. One group of researchers measured the amount of
radiation emitted by the phones, while the other measured radiation absorbed
by the body, while using the phone.
The Consumers Association (CA) said that it was not convinced that specific
absorption of radiation (SAR) test was reliable or safe.
Helen Parker, the editor of Which? said: "We stand by our original test
results published earlier this year. We think there are problems with
current SAR testing for hands free kits and we are carrying out more
research into this area."
So who is to be believed? A spokeswoman for the DTI said that it was not the
department's place to comment on other people's research, and that its
findings showed all the absorption levels were within the safe parameters
set by the National Radiological Protection Board.
Meanwhile, the CA says that there is no standard SAR test, and that results
vary widely from laboratory to laboratory. The DTI says that since this
experiment compared SAR levels without and then with a hands free kit in the
same lab, the results are indeed reliable.
It is difficult to know who to trust since both groups have strong motives
to keep the debate running. The CA wants to sell more reports and the
government stands to make a handsome wedge from the sale of mobile phone
There is more information available than ever before on the safety of mobile
phones, but it is often contradictory, and little help to the end users who
need to make the risk assessment for themselves.