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WHO does U-turn on mobile phone safety
Created: 14 Aug 2005
WHO does U-turn on mobile phone safety

WHO does U-turn on mobile phone safety

A major policy change on the safety of mobile phones has been announced by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The head of the WHO’s EMF project1 Mike Repacholi is now advising children to take precautions to reduce their exposure to radiation emitted from mobile phones. He told Canadian Television that the WHO now recommends that children should use hands-free headsets to reduce their exposure to microwave radiation.

Repacholi has in the past shunned precautionary policies and argued that children have no reason to protect themselves when using mobile phones on the grounds that present scientific information does not indicate the need for any special precautions for use of mobile phones.

Mast Sanity trustee Don Maisch commented: “This is a very significant move in the right direction although we believe WHO should go further and recommend that children should not use mobile phones at all.

“With the increasing amount of evidence of harm to children, Repacholi and his colleagues at the WHO are covering themselves to avoid possible litigation. As was seen in the tobacco wars saga, tobacco scientists who were found to be making claims of safety from smoking tobacco, after they had clear evidence of harm, were found to be liable for their claims. I think we are approaching a similar milestone with mobile phone use.”

Many scientists and doctors are now raising concerns about biological changes caused by mobile phone frequencies. The worry is that these changes could lead to physiological problems ranging from headaches to cancer and degenerative brain diseases.

Dr.Sheela Basrur, Ontario's chief medical officer of health recently told a Canadian newspaper, “It disturbs me that kids are the marketing target for devices that are dressed up to look as innocuous and friendly as possible, and yet may have longer-term health implications attached to them that we're not fully aware of."
Dr. Sheela Basrur who is the mother of a 14-year-old daughter whose repeated requests for a mobile phone have been denied goes on to say, “It falls on government and industry to provide this information in a readily accessible, easily understood fashion so you don't need a post-doctorate degree in radiation physics to realize that the jury is out."
Israel’s Minister of Communications Dalia Itzik reacted immediately to the World Health Organisation advice by announcing that a warning must be printed on all mobile phones stating that the radiation can harm children’s developing brains. Her initiative will be implemented in co-operation with the Minister of Health and Minister for Environmental Affairs.

Mast Sanity Director of Health and Safety Yasmin Skelt added: “This significant move by WHO is one which we urge the Government to follow. Despite a number of letters from Mast Sanity to ministers about the urgent need to implement the recommendations of the Stewart Report on mobile use by children, make Department of Health leaflets on mobile phones and health available in all retail outlets as well as bringing to task organisations such as the BBC which encourage the widespread use of mobile phone by children in direct opposition to existing Government advice, the Government is refusing to act. The Government’s inaction is going to have serious long term health implications."

ENDS

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Editor’s notes

1. Electromagnetic fields of all frequencies represent one of the most common and fastest growing environmental influences, about which anxiety and
speculation are spreading. All populations are now exposed to varying degrees of EMF, and the levels will continue to increase as technology advances.
As part of its Charter to protect public health and in response to public concern, the World Health Organization (WHO) established the International EMF
Project in 1996 to assess the scientific evidence of possible health effects of EMF in the frequency range from 0 to 300 GHz.
Source: Press release 20 July 2005

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