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Mobile phone industry in radiation risk rap

Facts not forthcoming, says health expert

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The head of the UK's Health Protection Agency last week claimed that mobile phone companies have been less than forthcoming in keeping consumers up to speed as to radiation levels generated by hi-tech mobes, London's Evening Standard reports.

Sir William Stewart slammed the industry for "doing too little to inform worried consumers", and demanded that radiation emission levels should be clearly displayed on phones. His comments follow his participation in a 2000 enquiry which recommended that emission ratings be clearly broadcast. Stewart said: "If it's possible to have football scores on a handset, surely it is possible to have emission levels on them. There is a website set up by manufacturers but have you tried to navigate that site to find Specific Absorption Rate values? I can tell you it is not easy."

This contribution to the mobile brain-frying debate is set against a backdrop of increasing concern as to the possible health risks to the growing number of teens with handsets glued to their ears. The 2000 Stewart report insisted that younsters' use of mobile phones should be limited, after it identified "subtle biological effects which might not trigger illnesses, such as brain tumours, for 20 years". Stewart notes: "We said in the report that it's not possible to say categorically that there are not health effects. But what has come out from the industry is that mobile phones are safe."

The government reckons the jury is still out on the matter, and the Mobile Operators Association told the Standard: "All mobile phones sold in the UK comply with international health and safety exposure guidelines set by independent scientific experts." ®

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