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Mobile Phones: Latest Advice, More Research
10 Downing Street
December 08, 2000

The Government has launched a package of measures to increase research into mobile phone technology and provide information to the public about mobile phones and health.

Two new leaflets have been produced by the Department of Health. They summarise the health evidence on mobile phone handsets and base stations, and a million copies will be distributed throughout the UK from today. Outlets include Tesco, Safeway, Asda, Sainsburys, WH Smith, Budgens, Virgin stores, Carphone Warehouse, BT and Cellnet, Vodafone, Dixons\Link, GP surgeries, libraries, local authorities and post offices.

A new research programme, costing around 7 million and funded jointly by Government and industry, will be directed and overseen by a taskforce led by Sir William Stewart. It will carry out research into the effects of mobile phone technology on health and the process will ensure that Government and the public are kept up to date with new research findings.

The Radiocommunications Agency will also begin an audit of mobile phone base stations and masts to assess emissions. Masts near to school buildings will be the first to be audited. The results of the audits will be published on the internet.

The Government established an independent expert group on mobile phones and health in 1999 in response to public concerns about the new technology. The Group, chaired by Sir William Stewart, published its findings in May 2000. The Government's response welcomed the report and todays announcement implements many of the Reports findings.

The Stewart report concluded that the balance of evidence did not show a health risk from mobile phone technology, but that there was evidence of a subtle biological effect, there were gaps in scientific knowledge and that a precautionary approach be adopted, particularly for children and young people. It also recommends that a substantial research programme be established and that the public should be provided with information about mobile phones and health.

Chief Medical Officer, Professor Liam Donaldson, said:

"Sir William Stewart's report was the most extensive review of evidence to date on mobile phones and health and we are acting on his recommendations.

"The research programme announced today will cost over 7 million and will help to improve our knowledge of health in relation to this new technology. The taskforce, led by Sir William Stewart will notify the Government of any new evidence that comes to light and assess future developments.

"It is essential that we provide people with the evidence on this issue to allow them to make an informed choice about using their mobile phone.

"On the basis of the precautionary approach outlined in the Stewart report, the leaflets provide advice that, if you use a mobile phone, you can choose to minimise your exposure to radio waves by keeping your calls short and by considering relative Specific Absorption Rates (SAR) values when buying a new phone.

In the case of children and young people under the age of 16, the UK Chief Medical Officers strongly advise that they should be encouraged to use mobile phones for essential purposes only and to keep all calls short. Of course, if parents want to avoid their children being subject to any possible risk that might be identified in the future, they can exercise their choice not to let their children use mobile phones."

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