Mobile phone radiation fears

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 16 May, 2000, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 16 May, 2000, 12:00am

Studies on the effects of microwave radiation are inconclusive, with experiments showing beneficial and harmful results. The Consumer Council released a report yesterday giving an overview of the studies amid concerns over the effects of radiation from mobile phones.

Tests by the Veterans' Affairs Medical Centre in the United States found that rats given microwave radiation and cancer-causing substances were less likely to have brain tumours, the council reported. These results have not been reproduced by other scientists.

The University of Nottingham, in England, found that worms kept under an electromagnetic field grew five per cent faster than normally, and scientists at Bristol University also found evidence to suggest that the electromagnetic field of mobile phones helped people to think faster.

But a study at the University of Freiburg in Germany found blood pressure was increased when the right side of the brain was exposed to radiation for 35 minutes.

The Orebro Medical Centre in Sweden found no increase in brain tumours among mobile phone users, but when tumours did develop they were found on the side the mobile phone was held.

The University of Washington presented evidence that radiation stimulates the secretion of endorphins in rats. In humans such secretions act like pain-killers and trigger a desire for alcohol. Public concern over the health effects of mobile phones came after reports from Britain concerning children's vulnerability to electromagnetic fields (EMF).

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has established an International EMF Project to assess the scientific evidence of possible health effects. It has recommended strict adherence to existing international and national safety standards.

And caution should be exercised when using mobile phones in hospitals and aircraft, where there is sensitive equipment, or around medical devices such as cardiac pacemakers and hearing aids. People with such devices should contact their doctor to determine their susceptibility to EMF effects, the WHO recommends.