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Case Warns Against Cell-Phone Radiation
Strait Times
Journalist: Krist Boo
March 02, 2001

Although findings on emissions are inconclusive, consumer watchdog is trying to persuade phone makers to put warning labels on the devices

Student Delia Yindeephol, 17, spends about six hours every day on her cell phone, and her mobile-phone bills run up to more than $400 each month.

She is one of about three million mobile-phone owners who the Consumers Association of Singapore (Case) wants to see better protected from the possible risk of cancer caused by cell-phone radiation.

The consumer-rights group is trying to persuade the authorities to make mobile-phone makers mount a warning on their devices stating the phone's Specific Absorption Rates (SAR).

Despite warnings that the radiation emitted by these phones can cause brain tumours and pose other health hazards, there has been no conclusive evidence so far that they do.

At the same time, no government or health organisation has yet given cell phones a definitive clean bill of health.

At a press conference yesterday, Case president Teo Ho Pin said: 'Case's message to consumers is that it's better to be safe than sorry. Inconsistent findings do not mean there isn't a link.'

Three in four Singaporeans own a mobile phone. Among young people, eight in 10 carry the gadget.

In Britain and the United States, the authorities have made it mandatory for phone makers to reveal SAR information. But the Infocomm Development Authority and the Ministry of Health, which make sure that SAR levels here are safe, are hesitant about following suit.

In a joint statement, the two bodies said: 'IDA has not mandated the publication of SAR information because the values issued by handset manufacturers are not comparable.

'This is due to the different methods of conducting SAR tests. The publication of SAR information on its own is not meaningful unless it is presented in the context of national radiation safety standards.'

But Case wants the government bodies to rethink its stance. Its manager for goods' investigation, Mr Gary Tan, said: 'The tests are inconclusive, but they should serve as a red flag to the authorities that consumers could be affected adversely.'

Major cell-phone makers, such as Nokia, Motorola and Philips, have said that they are willing to publicise SAR information provided a common testing method is agreed on.

Meanwhile, Case's immediate task may be to convince users that excessive talking on cell phones should be avoided.

But Delia has no plans to cut down on using her mobile phone, unless studies prove the health hazards of using cell phones.

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