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Experts want more time to establish once and for all whether mobile phones really are safe.

An independent advisory group has just published a report following a review of the evidence concerning the health effects posed by mobile phones.

Their view is that, based on the available research, mobile phones and base stations don't pose a health hazard.

Snag is, since the technology has only been around for a relatively short time the experts feel that more research is needed.

This latest bid to end the ongoing debate over the safety of mobile phones follows a report by the Independent Expert Group on Mobile Phones (IEGMP) in May 2000.

Chaired by Sir William Stewart, the study Mobile Phones and Health concludes: "It is not possible at present to say that exposure to RF (radiofrequency) radiation, even at levels below national guidelines, is totally without potential adverse health effects, and that the gaps in knowledge are sufficient to justify a precautionary approach."

Today's report from the independent Advisory Group on Non-ionising Radiation (AGNIR) follows on from the Stewart report which also called for the matter to be re-investigated within a couple of years.

The AGNIR report, chaired by professor Anthony Swerdlow, concluded: "There is no biological evidence for mutation or tumour causation by RF exposure, and epidemiological studies overall do not support causal associations between exposures to RF and the risk of cancer, in particular from mobile phone use.

"In aggregate, the research published since the IEGMP report does not give cause for concern. The weight of evidence now available does not suggest that there are adverse health effects from exposures to RF fields below guideline levels, but the published research on RF exposures and health has limitations, and mobile phones have only been in widespread use for a relatively short time. The possibility therefore remains open that there could be health effects from exposure to RF fields below guideline levels; hence continued research is needed," it said.

The AGNIR's report supports the broad conclusions of the Stewart Report that a "precautionary approach to the development of mobile phone technology remains a justifiable approach".

Which means that the ongoing debate as to whether mobile phones are safe, or whether they cook your brain, is set to continue. ®

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