Mobiles under scrutiny

Mobiles under scrutiny
Minister for Public Health instructs National Radiological Protection Board to set up working group to assess effects of mobile phone use; Bristol researchers welcome news after lobbying government. Steve Bush The government has responded to a call from Bristol-based researchers to take a closer look at the effects of mobile phone use. Tessa Jowell, the Minister for Public Health has instructed the National Radiological Protection Board to set up an independent expert working group to assess the current state of research into mobile phones. ‘To date there has been no consistent evidence suggesting risk to health, but there is continuing public concern about the possibility,’ said Jowell. ‘It would be wrong to ignore that concern.’ Medical physicist Dr Alan Preece, who lead the University of Bristol’s mobile phone research published last week, welcomed the government’s proposals: ‘Absolutely brilliant. It’s excellent, provided it is reasonably independent.’ Preece’s research has shown that there was a small but significant change in reaction time when people were subjected to mobile phone-like frequencies and levels of RF radiation. He also suggested that the effects may be due to simple heating effects, but he highlighted the possibility that they could be due to the creation of ‘heat shock proteins’. If heat shock proteins are being created, said Preece, urgent further investigation will be needed as there may be a danger to people who have long-term exposure to the microwaves generated by phones. Preece’s research studied the short-term effects of mobile phone use using ‘double blind’ test methods. His results show no effect on memory or cognitive skills, but a statistically significant speeding-up of reactions during simulated phone use. The research involved 36 subjects and steps were taken to remove influences such as age, sex and alcohol and coffee consumption. Meanwhile, the exact form of Jowell’s group is still to be revealed. ‘We will shortly announce the terms of reference and the membership of the independent group which will be drawn from the relevant scientific fields, consumers and the industry,’ said Jowell. ‘We need a definitive and rigorous assessment of existing research and clear identification of areas where further research may be needed.’


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*