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Gap In Protection Against Mobile Phones
Reuters
Journalist: Neil Winton
May 27, 1999

People are being exposed to potentially lethal radiation from mobile telephones because health regulations do not go far enough, a report published on Thursday said.

The report, by Gerard Hyland, senior lecturer in Physics at Warwick University, said regulations only give protection against radiation intensity.

Hyland told a news conference that current regulations ignore the impact of low frequency electromagnetic pulses which can interfere with the body’s natural electrical systems. This reaction varies with individuals and can harm immune systems.

Hyland was presenting the report at a news conference sponsored by (Tecno AO (UK) Ltd), which makes and sells devices which can be clipped on to telephones. Tecno AO claims their devices negate the impact of very low frequency (VLF) and extremely low frequency (ELF) electromagnetic radiation.

Britain’s National Radiological Protection Board, which is responsible for mobile phone safety, stood by its rules.

“Our regulations are based on international standards for devices based on evidence published in scientific, medical and epidemiological journals,” said Mike Clark, NRPB spokesman.

“We can only base standards on generally established scientific and medical facts,” Clark said.

Mobile telephone company Vodafone Group Plc (VOD.L) said it was happy to follow regulations put in place by the NRPD, but also supported continuing research.

“The whole industry supports research in properly authorized channels like the World Health Organization, and we have a commitment to be as open as possible. We will take note of any new evidence, but the science at the moment indicates there isn’t cause for concern,” Vodafone spokesman Mike Caldwell said.

Warwick University’s Hyland disagrees.

“Current safety guidelines are fundamentally flawed and in need of a complete rethink,” Hyland said.

Hyland said the current regulations only address the problem of excess heat generated by microwave radiation in mobile phones.

“Living organisms have the ability to sense and react to aspects of electromagnetic radiation more than its intensity. The wave motion can interfere with fundamental human processes at way below intensity levels addressed by regulations. The NRPD regulations ignore this,” Hyland said.

Scare stories about health and mobile phones proliferate almost as fast as the sales of the ubiquitous devices.

Last year global mobile phone sales zoomed ahead by 51 percent to 163 million, according to Dataquest of the U.S.

And this despite worrying news about safety.

Recent reports have linked their use to fatigue, headaches, tingling and heat sensations on the ear and skin. Another study said mobile phones caused blood pressure increase. Yet another warned of short-term memory loss. One study of chicken embryos exposed to computers showed foetal loss.

Only this week the British Broadcasting Company’s Panorama program suggested microwave radiation from handsets could increase brain tumor chances.

Finland’s Nokia Oyj (NOK1V.HE), which sold more mobile phones last year than anyone, was quick to deny that report.

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