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Mobile Phone Warning To Schoolchildren
Journalist: Grant Hodgson
November 27, 2000

Children who use mobile phones are at risk from memory loss, sleeping disorders and other health problems, a scientist warned today.

Dr Gerard Hyland, of the University of Warwick, said children are particularly at risk because their immune systems are still developing and are less robust when coping with infections.

Recent fears over the use of mobile phones has centred on "brain heating", but Dr Hyland said the real risk was with low intensity radiation, called non-thermal radiation.

Dr Hyland, who is based in the physics department at the University of Warwick, said children were at risk because their skulls are smaller and thinner, meaning radiation is able to penetrate.

"Radiation is known to effect the brain rhythms and children are particularly vulnerable," he said.

"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's findings have been published in the latest issue of the medical journal The Lancet.

He added: "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.

The team, which was set up in response to the recommendations of a Government commissioned report by Sir William Stewart published in May, is to be given a 7 million budget, according to BBC2's Newsnight.

It is to be chaired by Professor Stewart and will include brain expert Professor Colin Blakemore and the World Health Organisation's head of research Michael Repaccoli.

When the report was published in May the Department of Health agreed to do more research into mobile phones.

It also accepted 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.

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