Cell phone and child
Cell Phones May Pose a Risk to Children
New study points out the potential hazards of long-term
mobile phone use. Laura Rohde, IDG News Service
Children may be more vulnerable than adults to the
potential health risks of using mobile phones, according to a U.K. study
released this week, which urged that nonessential phone use by children be
Some Interesting Facts about Cell Phones
Though no conclusive evidence
currently exists that mobile phones are harmful, a cautious approach of risk
management, especially in relation to children, should be taken by the
government, according to the study, published by the U.K.'s National
Radiological Protection Board (NRPB).
The study is a follow-up to a similar study issued four years ago. Little has
changed during that time in terms of being able to assure the safety of mobile
phone use on the public's health, the board says.
In May 2000, the U.K.'s Independent Expert Group on Mobile Phones, also called
the Stewart Report after the group's then chairman, William Stewart, singled out
mobile phone use by children, the elderly, and the infirm as cause for concern.
The study warned that children may be more vulnerable to radio frequency (RF)
radiation exposure because of their developing nervous system, the greater
absorption of energy in the tissues of the head, and a longer lifetime of
What can I use to
protect myself from cell phone radiation
Cell phone and child?
The NRPB's study issued this week,
entitled "Mobile Phones and Health," uses similar wording to the one it follows
"The Board believes that the main conclusions reached in the Stewart Report in
2000 still apply today and that a precautionary approach to the use of mobile
technologies should continue to be adopted," the NRPB study says. Stewart is now
chairman of the NRPB, whose members are appointed by U.K. health ministers, and
he again urged that the use of mobile phones by children for nonessential calls
should be discouraged.
As with the 2000 study, the NRPB did not set out guidelines for how many minutes
per day would be considered safe for a child to use a mobile phone, nor did the
group give its age definition of a "child."
What has changed since the 2000 study is the growth of mobile phone use. There
are currently around 50 million mobile phones being used in the U.K. compared
with about 25 million in 2000 and 4.5 million in 1995, according to the study.
These mobile phones are supported by around 35,000 base stations, the majority
of which operate under the GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications)
In addition, the number of children between 7 and 10 years old using a mobile
phone has doubled since 2001, to one in four, according to the study.
Mobile phone networks and the base stations needed to support them are expected
to grow with the implementation of 3G technology, and the NRPB study recommends
that "monitoring of potential exposures from 3G base stations should be
concomitant with the roll out of the network."
The public also faces ever-increasing RF exposure from wireless LANs, Bluetooth,
UWB (ultrawideband), and RFID (RF identification) technologies. "The issue of
signal characteristics, in particular the nature and extent to which they
exhibit pulsing, remains a subject of public concern," the NRPB study says.
Despite the concerns raised, the mobile phone industry, as represented by the
Mobile Operators Association (MOA), welcomed the study, stressing that "the key
point of the NRPB advice is that there is no hard information linking the use of
mobile telephony with adverse health effects."
The MOA was established to represent the five U.K. mobile phone network
operators (Vodafone Group, Orange, T-Mobile, mmO2, and Hutchison 3G UK) on radio
frequency health and planning issues.
Still, the NRPB study takes pains to point out that the lack of hard evidence
does not mean that mobile phones do not pose a public safety risk. "The
widespread use of mobile phone technologies is still fairly recent and
technologies are continuing to develop at a pace that is outstripping analyses
of any potential impact on health," the study says.
According to the NRPB, data exists that suggests RF fields can interfere with
biological systems. The study also pointed to Swedish research that found an
increase in the risk of acoustic neuromas, a type of benign tumor, in people who
used mobile phones for over 10 years.