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Reuters: Cell Phone Radiation Safety 6-9-1999

Cell Phone Radiation Safety
June 9, 1999

Britain cannot be categorical about the safety of using mobile ‘phones, a top government adviser told MPs on Wednesday, as preparations got underway for a new inquiry into the latest public health scare.

Responding to recent media and scientific reports that mobile ‘phone radiation posed health risks, the government’s Chief Medical Officer Professor Liam Donaldson told the Science and Technology Committee:

“It is very difficult to make black and white statements about mobiles being safe or unsafe.”

But Health Minister Tessa Jowell sought to reassure the public there was no current evidence to show that using a mobile could damage health.

“As of now, there is no conclusive evidence that there are ill effects to health,” Jowell told MPs. “But it’s very important that the government maintains an open mind and works to keep ahead of public anxiety.’ ‘

The government is currently setting up a top scientific advisory panel, which will include consumer groups, to examine the safety of mobile ‘phones following recent reports which said their constant use could cause brain tumors.

Jowell said she was would bar representatives from the mobile ‘phone industry from sitting on the advisory group in order to protect the integrity of the research but said companies would be able to submit evidence.

“I am very concerned that as a government the public trust us and we are in a position to provide good and reliable information,” she said.

Her comments came against a backdrop of public mistrust of government assurances on the safety of genetically modified food. Since the handling of so-called “mad cow’s” disease, the public has remained skeptical about government pledges on GM and other health issues.

But the potential repercussions from a potential mobile ‘phone scare are huge, with millions of users in Britain alone, said Jowell.

While no study has proved that radiation from ‘phones harm the brain, a recent BBC documentary showed interviews with scientists who suggested that heavy mobile users have an increased risk of developing a brain tumor.

Even so, recent pressure to put health warnings on mobile ‘phones were blocked by the European Commission earlier this year. EU officials said the evidence did not justify such draconian action.

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