• 28 JUN 10
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    #1270: ARPANSA takes a precautionary approach for children and mobile phones

    While the Education Ministry of New Zealand blindly takes an Auckland industry consultant’s advice that it is okay to make it compulsory for school kids to use a mobile phone as a learning aid (See message #1268) Australia takes a far more enlightened approach.

    The Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) has issued the below advice for children and mobile phone use. Considering ARPANSA’s long standing allegiance to the industry viewpoint that there are no hazards this is an important development. Too bad, however, that ARPANSA hasn’t included all mobile phone users and DECT cordless phone use in its precautionary advice.

    ARPANSA’s new position is in line with my advice for children and mobile phones, published seven years ago. See:

    Children and Mobile Phones … Is There a Health Risk? The case for extra precautions
    Journal of Australasian College of Nutritional & Environmental Medicine – Vol. 22 No. 2; August 2003.
    Link: http://www.emfacts.com/papers/children_mobiles.pdf

    Also see:

    Mobile phone use: It’s time to take precautions. An overview of the Mobile Phone health issue
    JACNEM Vol. 20 No. 1 April 2001,
    Link: http://www.emfacts.com/papers/mobile_use.pdf


    ARPANSA Media release

    Date: 17 May 2010

    MEDIA ENQURIES: Ms Kay McNiece – (02) 6289 7400
    Statement from the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) on Release of World Health Organisation Report on INTERPHONE Study

    ARPANSA welcomes the publication of the first complete results from the multinational INTERPHONE study into whether there are links between certain brain tumours and mobile phone use.

    On the basis of current understanding of the relationship between brain cancer and use of mobile phones, including the recently published data from the INTERPHONE study, ARPANSA:

    * concludes that currently available data do not warrant any general recommendation to limit use of mobile phones in the adult population,
    * continues to inform those concerned about potential health effects that they may limit their exposure by reducing call time, by making calls where reception is good, by using hands-free devices or speaker options, or by texting; and
    * recommends that, due to the lack of any data relating to children and long term use of mobile phones, parents encourage their children to limit their exposure by reducing call time, by making calls where reception is good, by using hands-free devices or speaker options, or by texting.


    ARPANSA notes that the results of the INTERPHONE study do not establish an increased risk of brain cancer related to mobile phone use.

    There are suggestions of an association between use of mobile phone and brain cancer (most pronounced for glioma) in the group representing individuals with the highest cumulative call time. Limitations of the methodology prevent conclusions of causality being drawn from these observations.

    However, in relation to the observations in the group with the highest cumulative call time, ARPANSA notes that the use of mobile phones has increased among young people and children. This means that the cumulative call time in this group is likely to become greater than in large parts of the adult population covered by the study published today. The possible effects of long-term heavy use of mobile phones require monitoring and further study.

    In the absence of conclusive data, especially related to children, ARPANSA suggests the precautionary measures indicated above. ARPANSA acknowledges that children may need to have mobile phones and use them in many situations. The precautionary measures relate to the use of the mobile phones against the head.

    The current ARPANSA Standard includes a requirement to minimize unnecessary exposure of the public to radiofrequency electromagnetic radiation. ARPANSA, with the help of Australian scientists, will carefully examine the results of the INTERPHONE study. Together with the large amount of scientific research published in the last 10 years, the results published today of the INTERPHONE study will help ARPANSA decide whether a review of its current exposure standard for radiofrequency radiation is warranted.

    AND from the Sunday telegraph of June 27:

    Mobiles ‘too dangerous’ for children


    CHILDREN have been warned to text, rather than talk, on their mobile phones by the federal Government’s radiation safety watchdog.

    The official caution was issued last week by the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency, following a decade-long study into the health effects of using mobile phones.

    The agency said children needed to take precautions to protect themselves from exposure to radiation because health risks from their long-term mobile phone use were still unknown.

    “Children should be encouraged to limit exposure from mobile phones to their heads by reducing call time, by making calls where reception is good, by using hands-free devices or speaker options, or by texting,” it said.

    The agency – the Commonwealth’s main advisory body on radiation protection – reviews Australian and international research and is completing an assessment to develop new recommendations and guidelines.

    Its warning comes only weeks after a 10-year international study linked extended mobile phone use to increased risk of brain tumours.

    The Interphone project, the world’s biggest study into the health effects of mobiles, found no increased risk of cancer overall, but those who talk at least 30 minutes a day are up to 40 per cent more likely to develop glioma, the most common type of brain cancer.

    Professor Bruce Armstrong, of Sydney University’s School of Public Health, said mobile phone radiation was more harmful to children because their bodies were less developed.

    “The skull is thinner and so more of the radiation produced will be absorbed into the brain in a child, who has a mobile phone to their ear, than in an adult who has the same conversation,”

    he said. “It’s not a huge amount, but it is material.”

    Professor Armstrong, who led the Australian part of the Interphone study, said he supported the radiation agency’s advice, but stopped short of calling for it to be extended to all users.

    An Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association spokesman said: “There is no known basis for singling out children for concern.”

    Greens senator Bob Brown said a health warning should be issued to all mobile users.

    “There is no proof mobile phone use is safe,” he said.

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