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Wednesday, June 2, 1999 Published at 06:22 GMT 07:22 UK


UK

Police warn staff over mobile phones

Many people are worried about the safety of using mobile phones

The Metropolitan Police force is advising its staff to restrict the length of their mobile phone calls to five minutes because of new health concerns.

Safety experts from the London force are also telling officers and civilian staff concerned about any risk to consider using an earpiece.

The advice is being issued after a number of reports which have raised safety concerns about the prolonged use of mobile phones.

Staff from the 27,000-strong force's occupational health directorate are now liaising with the Health and Safety Executive and the National Radiological Protection Board (NRPB).

'No harm in using an earpiece'

A spokesman said: "Purely as a precautionary measure, the directorate offers advice to any Met personnel making inquiries about mobile phone safety.

"The advice says: 'Does the user really need to use a mobile phone? If so, they should limit the length of time to certainly no more than five minutes.

" 'If users are required to make regular and lengthy use of mobile phones, there would be no harm in using an earpiece.' "

Some researchers have warned that low-level microwave radiation from mobile phone handsets can heat the brain, causing a number of neurological problems.

'Lack of statistical precision'

The latest wave of concern follows a recent BBC Panorama programme, on which two leading scientists said there could be a link between mobile phone usage and brain tumours.

Swedish cancer expert Dr Lennart Hardell, and American Dr George Carlo, have urged people to spend as little time as possible using mobile phones until more major research is carried out.

But the NRPB said Dr Hardell's study "lacked statistical precision".

Mobile phones are currently used by about 13 million people in Britain.





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