#1185: Push for cigarette-like warnings on mobiles
From The Age newspaper (Melbourne)
Push for cigarette-like warnings on mobiles
January 4, 2010 – 10:18AM
A move by legislators in the US state of Maine to require brain-cancer warnings on mobile phones is expected to trigger a worldwide response, the Australian industry has said.
A Democrat state representative, Andrea Boland, wants new mobile phones to carry health warnings like those on cigarettes and is pushing ahead with the legislation despite a lack of scientific consensus.
The Australian industry expects a wave of concern when the legislation is debated this month.
Ms Boland said she understood that radiation from mobile phones increased the risk of brain cancer, especially for those under 18, and her opinion was reinforced by a 2006 study by the Swedish National Institute for Working Life showing a correlation between brain tumours and heavy mobile phone use.
“The main thing is that the warning labels get on there, and when people go to purchase something they have a heads-up that they need to really think about it,” Ms Boland said.
“This is a big important industry, and it’s a small modification to assure people that they should handle them properly.”
Randal Markey, the manager of communications for the Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association, said it was understandable that people would have concerns about mobile phones because of their experience with health controversies such as tobacco and asbestos.
“We do not expect everyone to accept our assurances about mobile phone safety,” he said.
“Our industry relies on the expert opinion of international health agencies for an overall assessment of health and safety issues.
“There is no established evidence that radio frequency exposure within internationally accepted safety limits causes adverse health effects.”
The World Health Organisation’s Interphone study, a decade-long investigation into the health implications of mobile phone use, remains unpublished.
In 2005 WHO said studies had found “no convincing evidence of an increased cancer risk” from mobile phones or their towers.
Mr Markey said if people were concerned, there were practical steps that could reduce exposure including using a hands-free kit or loudspeaker, text messages and limiting the length or number of calls.
In Australia there are more than 22 million mobile phones.
In the 11 months until November, more than 8.35 million handsets were brought into Australia – down slightly on 2007’s record 9.3 million – and although some were slated for distribution around the Pacific, most were for sale here.
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