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Bangladesh To Ban Mobile Phones For Children, Industry Outraged
Associated Press
June 03, 2002

Bangladesh is preparing regulations to ban mobile phones for children under 16 to protect them from exposure to radiation that could damage their brains, a government minister said.

Mobile phone companies lashed out at the proposal, saying Monday there was no scientific basis for the measure, which could harm their business.

Environment Minister Shahjahan Siraj outlined the plan Sunday to a conference of doctors and scientists in the capital Dhaka. "We must not allow our children to be exposed to health hazards caused by radiation from mobile phones," Siraj said.

Experts were preparing regulations to stop companies from selling mobile phones to children. Families will be encouraged to keep cell phones away from children.

The mobile phone industry was predictably angered by the news.

"There is no scientific evidence that mobile phones are bad for health," said Yameen Bakth, a spokesman for GrameenPhone, the largest of the nation's four cell phone companies.

Bakth told The Associated Press on Monday his company has been assured by manufacturers that mobile phone handsets "have no health hazard."

The private companies, which have 1 million users, say they have no problems with selling the phones to children.

One scientist at the conference favored a ban.

Long and frequent use of mobile phones can block the flow of blood, damaging the brain, said Abdul Jalil, a scientist at the state-run Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission.

The exposure can also cause high blood pressure and loss of red blood cells, Jalil said.

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