• 12 JUL 05
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    WHO study examines cellphone risks to kids

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    WHO study examines cellphone risks to kids
    CTV.ca News Staff

    While cellphones are increasingly popular among kids,
    some scientists worry the devices are a health risk to

    The World Health Organization is completing a massive
    study to see if there’s a link between cellphone use
    and brain cancer and other ailments.

    Cellphones emit electromagnetic radiation. Their
    design requires them to be held tight to a person’s

    Scientists are concerned that childrens’ skulls are
    thinner and their brains are still developing.
    Therefore, the risk of electromagnetic energy damaging
    their brains could be greater than the risk for

    There are ways to reduce the risk, said a WHO

    “With respect to children, WHO recommends that
    children should use hands-free headsets,” said Mike

    “I have a headset, actually,” one youngster told CTV
    News. “I use it when I’m biking.”

    “It’s a decision for them and their parents to make
    together,” said Peter Barnes of the Canadian Wireless
    Telecommunications Association about cellphones and

    Barnes said if children limit their cellphone use to
    an hour per day, there should be no problems.

    One reason for concern is that the wireless industry
    is increasingly targeting children, coming out with
    Barbie or Hello Kitty-themed products.

    The Canadian research team contributing to the project
    has access to the phone records of cancer patients —
    and some of them are kids.

    “And if we’re looking at chronic diseases like cancer,
    because they are exposed at an earlier age, they have
    a greater opportunity for that effect to manifest
    itself,” said Daniel Krewski, who added there is no
    evidence so far that kids are at risk.

    Globally, the wireless industry predicts 1.6 billion
    cellphone customers in 2005. About 15 million
    Canadians are believed to use them.

    The cellphone industry in this country claims to
    employ 25,000 and generate about $10 billion in annual

    “Given the immense numbers of users of mobile phones,
    even small adverse effects on health could have major
    public health implications,” the WHO said.

    Kids and cancer aren’t the only focuses of the study,
    which will also look at conditions like memory loss
    and other decline in mental functioning.

    The study is also examining the questions of whether
    people can safely use cellphones while driving and how
    much they interfere with medical devices.

    The report should by completed by year’s end.

    With a report from CTV’s Rosemary Thompson

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