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Research On Risks Of Mobile Phones
This Is Sheffield
Journalist: Kate Lahive
February 15, 2002

Sheffield scientists are to carry out a three-year study to find out if mobile phone use puts people's health at risk.

Experts from Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust's Royal Hallamshire Hospital and the University of Sheffield, have been awarded a 330,000 Government grant to see if electromagnetic fields from mobiles have a measurable effect on the blood pressure and heart rate of their users. 

More than 120 volunteers will be recruited to the project – the first in-depth investigation of its kind – this summer. 

Professor Tony Barker, consultant clinical scientist at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals, is leading the team. He has researched the biological effects of electromagnetic fields for over 20 years.

Also on the team from the University of Sheffield are Dr Peter Jackson, an expert on blood pressure; Dr Greg Cook, an electrical engineer who specialises in antenna design and measurement; and Dr Les Coulton, a biochemist who has been involved in several previous studies of effects of electromagnetic fields.

Prof Barker said: "Previous research has claimed that the transmissions from mobile phones can cause a rise in blood pressure, but these claims have yet to be confirmed by in-depth research so we'll be looking very carefully for evidence."

He said studies of blood pressure are important because raised blood pressure is a major cause of strokes, heart attacks and heart failure.

"Our research combined with the other projects aims to give some robust scientific evidence of any real health effects of using mobile phones," he added. 

"One of the problems at the moment is that there are so many scare stories and different views on how radiation from these phones can affect people.''

The study will look at traditional GSM mobile phones and also those using the new TETRA system, which is being increasingly used by emergency services and other priority users on a different network from that used by normal mobile phones.

The blood pressure and heart rates will be continuously monitored during and after the exposure. Blood samples will also be taken to measure for catechols, bio-chemicals which are found in the blood if nervous system activity has increased.

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