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Radiation Fear On Mobiles
Western Mail
Journalist: Madeleine Brindley
February 2, 2008

Fresh fears about the safety of mobile phones have surfaced after France warned children not to use them to make long calls.

In the first explicit advice of its kind in the Western world, the French government said children should not spend more than six minutes talking on a mobile phone. An accompanying television broadcast demonstrated how far radiation from the phones is able to penetrate into the brain.

This unprecedented move has prompted Welsh experts to now call for the international guidelines on mobile phone exposure to be revised downward.

An emergency conference by Coghill Research Laboratories, of Pontypool, last year presented evidence from scientists around the world that excessive long-term mobile phone use could result in brain tumours and other disturbances of the body’s vital processes.

Studies have suggested that up to one in 10 children under the age of 16 spends 45 minutes a day talking on mobile phones and it is estimated that up to 90% of under 16s own a mobile phone.

But despite such widespread use, there are few official guidelines about their use among children – research into safety is being carried out, although there is no date for its publication.

The Department of Health currently states that children under-16 should be “discouraged” from using mobile phones for “non-essential calls”.

Mobile phone expert Sir William Stewart, who published one of the earliest reports into mobile phone safety, warned in 2005 that children under eight should not use mobile phones and he urged parents to limit their children’s use of mobile phones. But his report said there was still no proof that mobile phones were unsafe.

The French Ministry of Health, Youth and Sports said in a statement, “As the hypothesis of a risk cannot be entirely excluded, precaution is justified. One should use a mobile phone with good judgment, avoid calling when reception is poor or during high-speed travel and finally, keep the telephone away from sensitive areas of the body by using a hands-free kit.”

And Michele Froment-Vedrine, the president of France’s AFSSET – an independent but state-funded environmental and safety watchdog group – said, “Since [children] aren’t capable of limiting their use of the telephone, parents should not buy them mobile phones.”

Concern has been mounting about the safety of mobile phones and fears that radiation can cause brain tumours. Roger Coghill, a biologist specialising in bio-electromagnetics, has long advised limiting mobile phone calls to five minutes. He said, “It is encouraging to hear that the French at least have at last taken on board the message of many world- class scientists. I only hope that the UK Health Protection Agency will now concede the urgent need to protect our younger population at least from these invisible but insidious radiations, and follow the example set by France, China, Russia and Israel.”

Research published last month by the Karolinska Institute, in Sweden, and Wayne State University and MIT, in the US, suggested that using a mobile phone late at light resulted in sleep disturbance.

Researcher Professor Bengt Arnetz said, “The study strongly suggests that mobile phone use is associated with specific changes in the areas of the brain responsible for activating and co-ordinating the stress system.”

Alasdair Philips, director of Powerwatch, which researches the effects of electromagnetic fields on health, said, “The evidence is getting stronger that we should treat these things in a precautionary way.”

A spokesman for the Health Protection Agency said, “We review the scientific evidence regularly and give advice when appropriate. It’s an international subject and we will take account of any international developments.”

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