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Mobile Phones Heat Up Debate
This Is Brighton
Journalist: Ray Hatley
April 17, 2001

Everywhere you look you see children with mobile phones but what are those phones doing to our children's health?

The Government says it doesn't know what the long-term implications might be, so what can be done to safeguard our offspring from this potential menace?

More than half the people in the UK now use a mobile phone on a regular basis.

Youth culture has embraced the mobile phone as a symbol of freedom from adult control. Children see them as an essential playground accessory while many teenagers recognise them as a tangible personal security measure.

The Department of Health says because the head and nervous system are still developing into teenage years, if there are any unrecognised health risks associated with mobile phones, then children and teenagers might be more vulnerable than adults.

They go on to recommend that, in line with a precautionary approach, the widespread use of mobile phones by children should be discouraged for non-essential calls.

Further guidelines suggest that mobile phones should only be used for essential calls. Calls should be kept short as talking for long periods prolongs the exposure to radio waves.

The telephone companies have, understandably, convinced both themselves and the public that their products are harmless.

But a Department of Health brochure, now available, states quite clearly that Government scientists do not know all the risks associated with mobile phones.

The brochure, Mobile Phones and Health, says there is considerable evidence to suggest radio waves cause heating of the human body along with inexplicable changes in brain activity. But as far as I'm aware, not one mobile service provider or handset manufacturer has included this information in their advertising.

It is possible to measure how much radiowave energy your body receives from each model of mobile phones.

A European Standard has recently been established, which means all new mobile phones will have to display their SAR (Specific Absorption Rate) rating.

If you are considering buying your child a mobile phone, you may want to ensure it has the lowest SAR rating possible. All phones sold legitimately in the UK already meet international exposure guidelines.

The UK Chief Medical Officers recommend if parents want to avoid any possible risk of injury, they should exercise their choice not to let their children use mobile phones. A hard line that is certain to meet with opposition from children and phone companies alike.

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