Cell Phones Health Risk To Our Children
May 03, 2000
Children should be discouraged from using mobile phones because they are more at risk from the radiation, says a top team of scientists.
The expert group, set up by the Government in response to growing concern about safety, found conclusive evidence that the phones have biological effects on humans even where the radio frequency or microwave radiation is emitted at very low levels.
Children are most susceptible because their skulls are thinner, allowing their brains to absorb more radiation, and their cell growth and brain wave activity are not yet stable.
The committee of 12 leading UK and European scientists, assembled last June and led by biologist Sir William Stewart, have scrutinized all the latest research on health risks and come up with the definitive report.
They have decided not to recommend an age limit for mobile use because they believe it would be seen as Draconian interference with personal choice.
Instead it wants campaigns to educate parents and children on the potential dangers of the phones and to prevent new mobile base stations being erected in schools.
Sources close to the committee said: “The effects of exposure to radio frequency radiation at levels way below the current guidelines are a cause for concern. This is very new technology. We may not be seeing cancers now but in 10 years, who knows? That is why we need to take precautions and plan to prevent future problems.” An estimated one in four of Britain’s 24 million mobile-phone users are under 18 and the new-generation phones, which allow e-mail and Internet access, are expected to appeal to the younger end of the market.
The risk of harmful effects on the brain functions of growing children and adolescents has prompted some scientists to warn that letting children use mobiles is as dangerous as giving them cigarettes to smoke.
The independent Stewart committee were impressed by two studies – one British, one Finnish – which showed that microwave radiation from mobiles stimulates the brain.
Alan Preece, of Bristol University, who conducted the British study, said he was confident that mobile radiation affected the human system but stressed it was still too early to say whether it was harmful, or how much.
His study, carried out on 36 volunteers, showed that mobiles make users react faster in certain situations because brain function is controlled by electrical flow.
The Finnish study, led by Dr Mika Koivisto, of the University of Turku, used 48 volunteers and found improved reaction times in learning and mental arithmetic tests.
Dr Preece said: “There is undoubtedly an effect but we just don’t know what the mechanism is which is causing it.”Research carried out by Dr Henry Lai at the University of Washington, in Seattle, and submitted to the Stewart committee, showed microwave radiation from mobiles caused genetic damage similar to that found in Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s sufferers.