Aegis Corporation Home Page Back To Previous Page
Print This Page
Close Window

New Fears Over Safety Of Mobile Kits
Journalists: Kirstin Ridley and Richard Baum
November 02, 2000

LONDON (Reuters) - Fresh evidence that hands-free kits can significantly boost the brain's exposure to radiation from mobile phones has been published, challenging government research amid consumer health concerns.

Consumer research magazine Which? said its new findings confirmed claims it first published in April that using hands-free earpieces could more than triple the brain's exposure to radiation compared with a conventional mobile phone call.

The original report was dismissed in August by the government, which commissioned research that showed the kits did cut exposure levels.

But Which? said the methodology used in the government research was flawed and that further research using a more realistic model confirmed hands-free kits could act as an aerial that channelled radiation to the ear.

The level of emissions depended on the distance between the tip of the phone's aerial and the earpiece, which varied according to how the phone was held. The government tests did not allow for this, Which? said.

"As in our earlier tests, it's clear that consumers can't rely on hands- free kits to reduce radiation emissions at the brain from mobile phones," Which? editor Helen Parker said.

"Although these kits can reduce radiation, they can also increase it significantly, depending on where you position the phone and kit. Unfortunately, there is no way that consumers can work out the best position to reduce radiation."

The increased emissions were still within British and European safety levels, she said.

Scientists agree that electromagnetic radiation from mobile phones warms brain tissue, that some strains of mice have developed cancer in tests in Australia and Finland and that others become disorientated.

But it remains unproven that mobile phones pose a human health risk.

Which? said the kits could cut emissions by 10 to 90 percent in some positions. But in others they could increase them by a factor of 1.5-3.5. The government used only one position which did not allow the wire to hang straight down, Which? said.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Trade and Industry said it still had doubts about the Which? research because of the type and position of the measuring probe used and the liquid inside the test dummy's head.

"The important thing is that we resolve the differences," she said.

Mobile phone maker Ericsson also played down the new findings.

"Ericsson and other mobile phone manufacturers, while not agreeing with the conclusions, encourage any organisation that believes that they have an alternative test methodology to put their case to international standards setting bodies in order for experts to evaluate the relative merits of the respective methods," it said in a statement.

Which? said it was impossible to recommend a "safe" position for holding a phone. Both short and long distances between the aerial and the earpiece produced increased emissions, with only a short length in the middle generating lower emissions than conventional calls.

Top of Page