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Mobiles 'Never Ruled Safe'
Evening Standard

Journalist: Mark Prigg,
January 14, 2004

Mobile phones can never be declared as officially safe, government advisers warned today.

They claim that the difficulty in measuring handset radiation means people are effectively playing Russian roulette with their health every time they use a mobile.

The comments, which come on the day that government experts unveil a major report into mobile-phone health risks, are set to re-ignite the debate on their safety.

The dispute centres around the levels of radiation emitted into the brain by handsets and masts. Some campaigners claim it can cause brain tumours or other forms of cancer.

Simon Mann, of the National Radiological Protection Board, which produced the report, admitted it was impossible to analyse the radiation levels emitted by phones and masts. "The basic problem is that phone users move around all the time," he said.

"We can measure what radiation they are exposed to if they stand in one place. But once they start moving around it becomes impossible."

Professor Les Barclay, a telecoms consultant who advised the Government on its 2000 report into phone safety, backed Mr Mann's views.

Professor Barclay said: "The way radiation works means that the density of flesh and bone in your head and your distance from a handset or mast can all make a difference to the amount of radiation being absorbed by the brain.

"There is no conclusive evidence, nor will there ever be. This is one of those areas that can never be proved 100 per cent one way or another. Radiation can affect different people very differently."

Professor Barclay added that, while there would never be any guarantees, he believed phones were safe most of the time for most people.

Today's report comes after a link was drawn between mobile-phone use and the destruction of brain cells.

Scientists in Sweden claimed that prolonged exposure to radiation from handsets destroyed cells in the areas of the brain important for memory, movement and learning.

The research, carried out on rats, also suggested mobile-phone use could increase the chances of premature ageing among young mobile-phone users and lead to the early onset of diseases such as Alzheimer's.

This confirmed research conducted on human tissue in 2002 that suggested mobile-phone use eroded the safety barrier that protects the human brain from harmful substances in the blood.

The greater the exposure to radiation, the Finnish researchers found, the more permeable the brain's safety barrier became - increasing the chances of lasting brain damage.

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