BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: Health
Front Page 
UK Politics 
Background Briefings 
Medical notes 
Talking Point 
In Depth 
Friday, 30 June, 2000, 08:30 GMT 09:30 UK
Report dismisses phone mast fears
mast on school
Parents are concerned about health effects of masts
Concerns that mobile phone masts may give off high levels of harmful radiation have been dismissed in a report.

Many masts are sited near homes and schools, and there had been fears that the microwave radiation they emitted could cause health problems.

We found the levels of radiation were well within guidelines and not hazardous

Simon Mann, NRPB
But experts, writing a report for the National Radiological Protection Board (NRPB), the government's official watchdog, said the levels given off were so low that they were incapable of causing bad health.

On average, the exposure was just 0.002% of the maximum recommended by international guidelines.

And the experts found that roofs actually absorbed even more of this radiation.

In some tests, pupils were receiving a higher dose of radiation coming through the window from a mast 300 yards away than through the roof from the mast sited on top of the school.

mobile user
Mobile phone use has soared
There are approximately 25m mobile phone in use in the UK, but this figure is expected to increase, and the demand for new locations for masts is ongoing.

Despite the finding, NRPB deputy director John Stather said more extensive research was needed.

He supported the recommendation in the recently-published Stewart report on mobile phone safety which suggested the creation of a database of mobile phone masts which could then be cross-referenced against health problems.

Simon Mann, one of the authors of the NRPB study, said: "There was a real need for someone to produce some independent data that could be held up for everyone to see.

"We chose places to investigate where people were concerned about masts but in all of them we found the levels of radiation were well within guidelines and not hazardous."

The early results of the study had been passed to the Stewart inquiry.

Its conclusions suggested that although mobile phone masts themselves were unlikely to cause health problems, the worry and stress associated with living near the mast might well trigger illness.

It also recommended a "precautionary approach" for mobile phone users, particularly children, saying there was no evidence that this caused health problems, but no proof that it did not.

In all, the NRPB team tested 118 points at 17 different mast sites.

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
See also:

28 May 99 | Health
Mobile phones: Don't hang up
11 May 00 | Health
Mobile phone research ordered
Internet links:

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

Links to more Health stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Health stories