Journalist: Sylvia Dennis
December 11, 2000
The British government has removed its
recommendation that mobile phone users
handsfree units when
using their wireless phones, opting
instead to start issuing leaflets
warning buyers of the unknown, but
potentially harmful impact, of mobile
phone usage by children.
The warning leaflets, which will go out
to mobile phone retailers in the next
few weeks, follow the British
government's continuing funding of tests
into the effects of
mobile phone radio frequency (RF)
radiation on the soft tissue of the
brain and head.
The government says that it is now
undertaking a $10.5 million research
program into the effects of mobile
phones on users' health, and has opted
for the distribution of safety leaflets
to wireless outlets in the next few
weeks, warning parents and other parties
about the possible harmful effects of
mobile phones on children.
Liam Donaldson, the UK's chief medical
officer, said that the government's
decision to remove the health approval
on handsfree kits followed a number of
investigations that claim handsfree
devices may even channel radiation to
the users head.
"We don't have good enough science so
far to say definitely one way or the
other," he said, adding that further
research is being conducted urgently to
provide an answer to the question.
Donaldson's decision to issue mobile
phone safety leaflets to retailers is a
complete u-turn on the issue of mobile
phone health issues since the summer.
In August, the government said that,
despite a damning Consumers Association
(CA) report in April that said
handsfree kits for
mobile phones were
unsafe, its early research had come out
with a report giving them a clean bill
At the time, Patricia Hewitt, the
British e-minister, shied away from
naming the CA report specifically,
noting that the government report has
concluded that using personal handsfree
(PHF) kits with mobile phones will
reduce exposure to electromagnetic
"Today's report confirms that
reduce exposure for mobile phone users,"
she said, adding that it is important
that the public is provided with clear
and unambiguous advice about the use of
Research for the summer study was
conducted by SARtest, which was
commissioned by the UK's Department of
Trade & Industry (DTI) to carry out
tests on PHF kits.
The British government's Independent
Expert Group on Mobile Phones and Health
(IEGMP), meanwhile, noted at the time
that other studies have been carried out
which claim a substantial reduction in
exposure when using PHF kits, but
recommended further work.
SAR Test said that all measurements
taken of the phones themselves were
comfortably within exposure guidelines
Radiation Protection Board (NRPB) and
the International Commission on Non-
Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP).
The research company, however, added
that undertaking the tests does not
suggest any problem of compliance with