Action Over Safety Fear For Mobiles
October 23, 1999
Lower limits on
mobile phone emissions were recommended yesterday by a Commons committee.
conceded that there was no evidence to prove microwave radiation from the
phones was harmful, they said manufacturers should be made to adopt
The science and
technology committee's report said that guidelines on exposure limits had
been established by the National Radiological Protection Board (NRPB)
"before the major increase in frequency and duration of use was envisaged
and this has led some to suggest that the guidelines should be
It added: "We
agree with the NRPB that there is no validated scientific evidence to
justify lower exposure limits. Nevertheless, the extent to which many are
calling for more research justifies a precautionary reduction in maximum
recommended that these guidelines be introduced quickly, but did not
specify a time. It also made allowances for compliance and said that a
grace period should be given to network operators.
has already asked the NRPB to set up an independent group to look at the
state of research into the health impact. However, the MPs said this
should only be a "temporary measure". They said there must be more
research and "constant vigilance" in a rapidly changing field.
The MPs called
for the recommended emission limit to be cut to a fifth of its present
level, to bring the UK into line with the rest of the European Union.
They said most mobiles already met the standard, but the lower level would
help to reassure the public. The MPs also called for the Government to spend
more on research.
According to the
report, some studies have linked radiation from mobiles with cancer and
others have found evidence of the phones causing headaches, nausea, sleep
problems and memory loss.
The MPs said the
Department of Health's Pounds 60,000 research programme "falls seriously
short of adequacy and is insufficient to underpin its policy decisions".
They added: "We
therefore call for an expanded research programme to provide for a
regular review of the public health implications of mobile phone
report, the committee chairman, Dr Michael Clark, said the present budget
of Pounds 60,000 funds "about one man and a dog". He added: "One man and
a dog is not enough for our fastest-growing industry."
emission guidelines should be reduced if there was no danger to the
public, Dr Clark said that bringing them down to the levels in the rest of
the EU would improve consumer confidence. "It is not appropriate for us to
be the odd one out on this," he said.
of the Electronics Industry, which represents mobile phone makers, said
it welcomed the report, particularly
the agreement that there was no scientific basis for limiting exposure to
mobile phone radiowaves.
The director of
the federation's mobile telecoms advisory group, Michael Dolan, said: "We
support the committee's recommendations for the establishment of an
independent and appropriately funded research programme to address
outstanding scientific questions."
* Edinburgh City
Council is to investigate the possible health risks to staff using
mobiles, writes Andrew Walker.
the administration leader, has called for the inquiry.
He said: "The
well-being of staff is a priority and we want to move quickly to find out
whether there is a potential risk to their health.
there is no conclusive evidence to suggest there is a risk from using
mobile phones and calling for this investigation is a precautionary
"At the same
time, risk cannot be ruled out and it is vital we ensure we do everything
possible to look after our staff."
investigation will be discussed at a meeting of the council's policy and
resources committee today.
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