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Scientist Warns Of Mobile Phone Peril For Children
November 24, 2000

A scientist is warning that children who use mobile phones are at risk of suffering memory loss, sleeping disorders and other health problems.

Dr Gerard Hyland, of the University of Warwick, says children are particularly at risk because their immune systems are less robust and are still developing.

Fears over the use of mobile phones have centred on "brain heating". But Dr Hyland says the real risk is with low intensity radiation, known as non-thermal radiation.

He says children are at risk because their skulls are smaller and thinner and radiation is able to penetrate. "Radiation is known to affect the brain rhythms and children are particularly vulnerable.

"The body is an electro-chemical instrument with exquisite sensitivity. The effect of microwaves from a mobile phone is a bit like interference on a radio. It has an impact on the stability of cells in the body. The main effects are neurological, causing headaches, memory loss and sleeping disorders."

Dr Hyland, whose findings are published in the latest issue of the medical journal The Lancet, adds: "If mobile phones were a type of food, they simply would not be licensed because there is so much uncertainty surrounding their safety."

The Government is to announce a new task force to study the possible dangers of mobile phones. According to BBC2's Newsnight, the team which was set up in response to the recommendations of a report published in May by Sir William Stewart is to be given a 7 million budget.

The task force is to be chaired by Sir William and will include brain expert Professor Colin Blakemore and the World Health Organisation's head of research Michael Repaccoli.

When Sir William's report was published in May, the Department of Health agreed with the recommendation that mobile phones should be issued with leaflets urging children under 16 not to use them excessively.

The Department of Transport, Environment and the Regions also decided to conduct an audit of mobile phone masts and look at the planning issues involved. According to Newsnight, the Government has decided all masts under 15 metres will be subject to full planning regulations, as those above that height already are.

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