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Radiation Up 33 Percent In Next Wave Of Mobiles
Courier Mail
April 08, 2002

A new range of mobile phones will have 33 per cent higher radiation levels.

Government radiation authorities are preparing to increase what is known as "specific absorption rates" to bring Australia into line with international standards.

Specific absorption rates measure the amount of radiation absorbed in our heads while we use a mobile phone.

Scientists measure our exposure to SAR by placing a mobile phone against the head of a plastic model filled with liquid designed to simulate the brain. Sensitive probes are inserted into the liquid to record the temperature.

Critics claim government bodies have bowed to industry pressure to allow a new breed of mobile phones with higher absorption rates of radiation to be imported.

The draft standards, which propose an increase in the level of radiation from 1.6 watts a kilogram to 2 w/kg, will go before the Radiation Health and Safety Advisory Committee this week.

Final approval will be sought from the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety chief John Loy.

ARPNS spokesman Brendan Elliott yesterday rejected criticism the SAR rise would increase the level of radiation people absorbed.

"The consensus of scientific opinion is that there is no evidence to show that is the case," he said.

"The net result is that it brings us into line with most of Europe and the science behind them is more contemporary and well thought out."

But Electromagnetic Radiation Association executive officer Lyn McLean said the new standard would protect people only from having their brain "heated" by radiation. "It does not protect from any other effects of radiation whatsoever," Ms McLean said.

She denied the weight of scientific evidence suggested protecting people only from "heating" would protect them from radiation exposure.

"I am not a plastic thing filled with jelly so the SAR is at best an approximation of what is happening in the body," she said.

Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association chief executive Ross Monaghan said the SAR level was available on most phone models but only revealed the maximum exposure a person could have using that handset.

Mr Monaghan said the level of SAR would decrease the closer a user was to a mobile's base station.

"All of the phones out now are well and truly below the current standard," he said.

"Our No. 1 priority is the safety of our customers."

Mr Monaghan said the new standard would mean Australian consumers did not miss out on the latest technology which was available overseas.

"It won't mean that phones will be radically different if the new standard is adopted," he said.

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