Health effects of mobiles debated at conference

11 Nov 2002

An international research seminar on mobile telecommunications and health, sponsored by the UK Mobile Telecommunications and Health Research programme (MTHR), gets under way in London today.

The two-day conference will focus on the possible health effects of mobile telecommunications, with presentations from Europe and Australia.

The UK Government supports the MTHR programme, with an initial £7.4m sterling (€11.6m) allocated to the research.

An overview of ongoing EU research being presented at the seminar includes: Interphone — an international case-control examination of cancer in relation to mobile telephone use; Guard — the potential adverse effects of GSM cellular phones on hearing and Perform-A — research on possible health effects related to mobile telephones and base stations.

By 2005, the results of various MTHR-sponsored research will be complete. “The EU, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the International Agency for Research on Cancer and other institutions will then assess with great certainty whether electronic and magnetic fields (EMFs), as they are emitted from mobile phones and base stations, cause an increase in cancer risks,” said Sir William Stewart, chairman of the MTHR programme management committee.

He believes that there is a need to adopt a precautionary approach to the health effects of mobile telecommunications. “The UK has been at the forefront of consideration of this important issue. It has adopted a positive approach to helping to ensure that the most up-to-date information on mobile phones and health is carefully analysed, debated and communicated to the general public. There are uncertainties in some areas and we want to make sure that work is directed to such areas,” said Stewart.

Another conference speaker, Mays Swicord of Motorola’s research lab in Florida, will offer the phone manufacturer’s perspective and will emphasise the areas of agreement with other research stakeholders. “There is general agreement, for example, that mobile communication technologies pose no demonstrated health risk as long as they operate within international standards,” he said
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By Lisa Deeney