Tsuyoshi Hondou, a physicist from Tohoku University in Sendai, Japan, currently working at the Curie Institute in Paris, calculated that in a typical Japanese railway carriage with mobile phone users surfing the net, the radio waves rebounding from the metal wall of the carriage would give an electromagnetic field that could exceed the maximum exposure level recommended by the International Committee for Non-Ionising Radiation (ICNIRP), even when the train is not crowded.
Hondou’s calculations show that it is possible to exceed ICNIRP exposure limit if 30 people, each with a mobile phone that emits radio waves at a power of 0.4 watts, all use their phones at the same time.
The ICNIRP limits have already been severely criticised for being set far too high, and are aimed at protecting people from acute heating effects only, and take no account of non-thermal effects.
An inquiry in April 2000 by the British government found no evidence of any health risks from mobile phones. But the report nevertheless recommended a precautionary approach until further evidence emerged. In particular, it suggested children should not use mobile phones excessively.
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