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Call For More Research On Cell Phone Health Effects

Call For More Research On Cell Phone Health Effects
Irish Times
Journalist: Kitty Holland
April 8, 1999

The chief executive of the Consumer Affairs Association has called for an independent international body to research the health effects of mobile-phone use.

Mr Dermott Jewell will raise the issue at the next council meeting of the European Bureau of Consumers’ Associations in Brussels next month.

Mr Jewell was reacting to the latest research into the health effects of mobile phones, presented by Dr Alan Preece at the University of Bristol yesterday.

“The more research that comes out on these phones the more confused the public gets,” he said.

Such an independent body would have experts drawn from a number of countries, representing all interests. It should be funded by international governments.

He said the research “conflicts with research by the British Ministries of Defence and Health which said the phones could be said to cause memory loss”.

A spokeswoman for Esat Digifone said Dr Preece’s research substantiated its arguments that increasing the number of mobile phone masts made mobile-phone use safer.

Carried out in conjunction with the British Royal Infirmary, the Bristol research is published in the latest edition of the International Journal of Radiation Biology. Its main finding is that mobile phones have an unexplained heating effect on the brain.

Dr Preece believes analogue phone signals may heat the angular gyrus, part of the brain which lies beneath the left ear and which is associated with speech and vision.

He said this might be caused either directly by microwave transmissions as the phone works to connect the handset to the signal or as a result of an alteration of body compounds which may be creating heat-shock compounds.

“If heat-shock proteins are being created, urgent further investigation will be needed,” he said.

Heating in the brain, if caused by microwaves, varies depending on the strength of the signal received. In areas of good reception, the microwave “dose” will be light, while in areas of poor reception the handset will have to work harder to make a connection, thus emitting a higher “dose”, according to the university.

“We have always said,” the Esat spokeswoman told The Irish Times, “that microwaves from the handset will be less the nearer the user is to a mast.”

An Eircell spokeswoman said the company welcomed the research. It was “pleased to see there is no effect on memory loss. However, this research needs to be replicated to be of any statistical significance.”

The British Federation of the Electronic Industry also welcomed the research. It said it “failed to indicate any link between mobile phones and memory loss”.

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