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Monday, 16 July, 2001, 16:40 GMT 17:40 UK
Mobiles to get radiation warnings
children on mobile phones
Children have been warned of the potential dangers
Three of the world's biggest mobile phone makers are to publish the levels of radiation emitted by their handsets.

Nokia, Motorola and Ericsson will print details of radiation levels in user manuals later this year.

The move follows pressure from consumer groups concerned about possible health risks.

The companies do not plan to label the phones with the actual level of radiation, called Specific Absorption Rate (SAR), nor put it on phone packages.

But with the information in the public domain, it should be easier for health conscious consumers to compare levels.

Common standard

Nokia Mobile Phones spokesman Tapio Hedman said: "There have been requests by some consumers that this information should be readily available.

"We are providing them with information they feel is important for them."

After protracted negotiations, the three mobile companies have agreed with the European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardisation's (CENELEC) on a way to measure radiation absorption on phones.

The agreement follows calls for companies and regulators to agree on a global standard of measuring radiation emitted from handsets.

Reports have alleged that radio waves from mobile phones can affect the human brain.

Excessive use

Last year, a UK government-sponsored scientific inquiry, chaired by Sir William Stewart, warned children to avoid excessive use of mobile phones because their thinner skulls make them prone to absorbing radiation.

Mikael Westmark, who is responsible for health issues at Ericsson, said: "We have worked together with Nokia and Motorola on this.

"It will not be any kind of warning label, but specification information included in the phone package together with other technical measures," said Mikael Westmark, responsible for health issues at Ericsson.

At the end of March this year, there were 770 million mobile phone users globally and Nokia expects that figure to rise to one billion in the first six months of 2002.

Law suit

US neurologist Christopher Newman last year filed a lawsuit against leading US phone companies, including Motorola, saying that the use of his mobile phone had caused a malignant brain tumour.


When you talk, you very seldom reach the maximum level in a properly constructed network

Mikael Westmark, Ericsson
Neither Ericsson, nor Nokia were named in the Newman lawsuit.

All three companies say research conducted over several years has found no evidence to link health problems with mobile phones.

SAR - the best way of measuring radiation - shows the absorption of energy by the human body in watts per kilogram.

The maximum safety limit is 2.0, while most phones on the market are now showing values between 0.5 and 1.0.

Mobile phones are, in effect, tiny radio stations that send and receive.

Hedman said one of the big challenges would be to explain to consumers what the new number actually means.

Highest levels

"The SAR value that will be included in the phone package will be the maximum value, rather than the average one.

"When you talk, you very seldom reach the maximum level in a properly constructed network," said Mr Westmark.

He said the SAR value was highest when dialling and then dropped steeply off after the connection was made.

Ericsson said it would include the SAR figure with its phones from October, and Nokia said it would do it roughly at the same time.

The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) already requires cellphones to meet radiation safety standards, and all manufacturers are required to inform the FCC of the SAR levels on their phones before they are approved for sale nationally.

Consumers can already get this information from the FCC, and Nokia has published them in the user manuals of its US phones, Hedman said.

See also:

12 Jul 01 | Business
09 Jan 01 | Health
24 May 01 | Health
10 May 00 | Health
11 May 00 | Health
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