28 September 2008
In today’s Sunday Age (Australia) the Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association (AMTA) CEO Chris Althaus dismissed the idea that children were especially susceptible to the radiation of a mobile phone (see last message). This was the same viewpoint Althaus stated in the Hobart Mercury on September 26. According to Althaus “when the weight of scientific evidence is considered”: … “There is no known basis for singling out children for concern and the scientific evidence does not indicate significant differences in the absorption of electromagnetic energy from mobile phones between adults and children.” He quotes as justification the statements put out the Health Council of the Netherlands (HCN) and WHO.
All this was prompted by Leonnart Hardell’s finding that people who started mobile phone use before the age of 20 had more than a fivefold increase in glioma” and that their use of a cordless home phone produced a fourfold risk of gliomas.
AMTA’s statement, and those of HCN and WHO are simply untrue. Industry research published in “Physics in Medicine and Biology” in June of this year by a team from France Telecom found that the brains of young children absorb twice as much RF energy from a cell phone as those of adults. The team leader stated that as children’s skin and skulls are thinner than those of adults, the higher absorption of electromagnetic energy was not surprising. If that were not enough for caution, recent research by the German Federal Office of Radiation Protection, found that regions of the brains of young children can have exposures that are twice those of adults ””or even higher. The researchers concluded that the “exposure of the bone marrow of children can exceed that of adults by about a factor of ten.” They also report that children’s eyes are more highly exposed that those of adults. Then in April 2008 the Russian National Committee on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection, allied with the Russian Academy of Sciences, issued international advice on the use of mobile phones by children that stated in part: “The absorption of the electromagnetic energy in a child”™s head is considerably higher than that in the head of an adult”. They explained that this was the case since a child”™s brain has higher conductivity, smaller size, and thiner skull bones.
When AMTA refers to “the weight of scientific evidence” one wonders to who’s benefit is it weighted?
As for Hardell’s latest research, it should be noted that this is just a small part of an accumulating body of evidence that indicates caution needs to be taken with mobile phone use, especially by children. For example, the preliminary results of the international Interphone Project, a 13 nation study on possible mobile phone hazards have indicated an increased risk of brain tumours, acoustic neuromas and salivary gland tumours, especially with 10+ years mobile phone use. As a result of these findings Dr. Elisabeth Cardis, head of the overall Project, stated that she was in agreement with the idea of restricting the use of mobile phones by children. Dr Bruce Armstrong, head of the Australian section of the Interphone Project and Professor of Public Health at Sydney University stated on national TV that he thought that the accumulated evidence was pointing towards an effect of mobile phones on tumours. Armstrong said that he would “not want to be a heavy user of a mobile phone”. In America Dr. Ronald Herberman, the director of the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute, has called for caution in the use of cell phones, especially by children. In Australia three prominent neurosurgeons, Teo, Bittar and Khurana have publicly expressed their professions growing concern over the possible relationship between mobile phone use and brain tumours. Taking their lead from tobacco science, however, AMTA still denies any health hazards whatsoever – perhaps understandable when this is exactly what the industry pays them to say.
If you are a parent thinking of buying a mobile phone for your 6 year old who would you believe?
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