[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Wednesday, 14 January, 2004, 18:27 GMT
Mobile phones 'appear to be safe'
Children are still advised only to use mobile phones in emergencies
UK government scientists have given a cautious thumbs up to mobile phones and transmission masts.

A report from the Advisory Group on Non-Ionising Radiation says there is no evidence they harm health.

However, the scientists said more research is needed before they can be absolutely certain there is no risk.

The report is based on a review of all of the scientific research into mobile phone safety published over the past three years.

More than 40m mobiles are in circulation in the UK. Many of these are used by children.

In 2000, a report by the Independent Expert Group on Mobile Phones - the so-called Stewart Report - suggested that children should only use mobile phones in emergencies.

The possibility remains that there could be health effects
Advisory Group on Non-Ionising Radiation

The recommendation was based on the theory that children could be more at risk from the radiowaves emitted by mobile phones.

This is because their brains are still developing and their skulls are thinner, making it easier for the radiowaves to penetrate them.

The Stewart Report said there was no evidence mobile phones were harmful to adults. However, it recommended a "precautionary approach" until further research is carried out.

This latest report is the first major review of the scientific evidence on mobile phone safety by UK government scientists since 2000.

The advisory group said there was no reason to change the advice on mobile phones.

It said "little has been published specifically on childhood exposures" in the past three years so the advice to children remained the same.

Similarly, there was no new evidence to suggest adults were at risk.

"In aggregate, the research published since the IEGMP report does not give cause for concern," the report states.

More research

However, the scientists said further research is needed.

"Mobile phones have only been in widespread use for a relatively short time. The possibility remains that there could be health effects," the report says. "Continued research is needed."

The balance of evidence suggests that mobile phone technologies do not cause adverse health effects
Mike Dolan,
Mobile Operators Association
Professor Anthony Swerdlow, chairman of the advisory group, said the report is based on what is known at the moment and warned that the situation could change.

"It's hard to communicate degrees of uncertainty and it is often difficult to know how uncertain things are and what might be found in 10 years time," he said.

"One cannot be absolutely sure what we will find in the future".

The report also dismissed fears about the safety of mobile phone base stations.

It said exposure levels from base stations were extremely low and were unlikely to pose a health risk.

There are 30,000 mobile phone base stations dotted around Britain.

"Exposure levels from living near to mobile phone base stations are extremely low, and the overall evidence indicates that they are unlikely to pose a risk to health," the report said.

Mike Dolan, executive director of the Mobile Operators Association, welcomed the report.

"The report clearly confirms the findings of the Stewart Report which concluded that the balance of evidence suggests that mobile phone technologies do not cause adverse health effects."

  • Doctors at University College London Hospitals NHS Trust are seeking volunteers to take part in a study to examine the effects of mobile phones on hearing and balance.

    Anyone interested in taking part in the study should email Dr Robin Cox on robin@rafcox.go-plus.net

    The BBC's Sue Nelson
    "The only way to be certain is more research"

    Q&A: Mobile phone safety
    14 Jan 04  |  Health
    Fresh fears over mobile phones
    19 Jun 02  |  Health
    Child mobile phone warning
    10 May 00  |  Health

    The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


    News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
    UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
    Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
    Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific