Monday, Sep 05 2011
Scientists are to investigate officially the links between mobile phone masts and cancer, the Government announced today.
The experts have been ordered to find out once and for all whether the masts are the cause of a spate of illnesses, including the eruption of so called “cancer streetsî. They will study a group of volunteers who believe they have been made ill by the masts.
The mobile telecommunications health research programme (MTHR), which is part-funded by the Government, has already spent £4.5million on studies into mobile phone handsets and radiow aves and their effects on health.
But although these have partly addressed the effect which masts might have on people living near them, experts believe a studyfocusing exclusively on base stations is now vital.
They hope to discover through a range of tests on the volunteers w hether electro m agnetic fields emitted by base stations are the cause of their health problems. The MTHR said it wants a “study investigating the basis of symptoms attributed by the volunteers to their exposure to emissions from base stations”.
Dr Mike Clarke from the National Radiological Protection Board said the MTHR had realised there were gaps in its present research project.
“There is a great body of research into the use of handsets. But I think they have realised that there is a need to look at health risks from mobile phone base stations as well,” he said.
“Although there have been a lot of studies measuring the EMF’s produced by masts, this is the first to look at people who think they are ill and masts.”
Scientists have struggled until now to research the effects of masts on health because there are so many other devices which which produce electrom agnetic fields – including electricity cables and household equipment.
How ever, by using volunteers who specifically cite masts as the cause of their illness, the British research w ould avoid this problem.
There has been outrage in recent years at the number of mobile phone masts erected across Britain, with m a ny people believing that – like electricitypylons, which have been linked with an increased rate of childhood leukemia – they could cause illness.
In some areas of the country, “cancer streets” have appeared with clusters of people living near mobile masts blaming their illness on the new technology.
At the end of last year, there was widespread alarm when it was revealed that a mobile phone company was placing masts inside McDonald’s signs and Shell garage logos so that they would not be visible. This prompted widespread distrust of the mobile phone industry and its claims that masts are safe.
How ever, at present, most mobile phone masts erected in Britain produce very low electro m agnetic fields, often less than 0.2 per cent of the amount considered a potential threat to health.
But most experts agree that if mobile phones are found to affect health, the Government would need be ready with advice for consumers based on thorough scientific research.
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