People concerned that wireless radiation from mobile services operating in the electromagnetic spectrum (radio), such as those used for Mobile Phones and Mobile Broadband (e.g. 900MHz and 1800MHz), can rest a little easier today after an 11-year long and £13.6m UK study found “no evidence” of biological or adverse health effects.
The new report (dated 2012) from the Mobile Telecommunications and Health Research Programme (MTHR), which has been supported by the Government’s Department of Health, summarises studies completed since an earlier report in 2007. In all it has supported 31 research projects that have resulted in nearly 60 papers in peer-reviewed scientific journals.
Overall the lengthy research programme found no evidence that exposure to generally low frequency base station (mobile network) emissions during pregnancy affects the risk of developing cancer in early childhood, and no evidence that use of mobile phones can lead to an increased risk of leukaemia.
Likewise it found that modulations applied to radio transmissions and signals from the public Terrestrial Trunked Radio (TETRA) system, which are often used by the emergency services, were both safe or at least had no evidence to support any health fears.
Professor David Coggon, Chairman of MTHR, said:
“When the MTHR programme was first set up, there were many scientific uncertainties about possible health risks from mobile phones and related technology. This independent programme is now complete, and despite exhaustive research, we have found no evidence of risks to health from the radio waves produced by mobile phones or their base stations.
Thanks to the research conducted within the programme, we can now be much more confident about the safety of modern telecommunications systems. To be sure that there are no delayed adverse effects, which only become apparent after many years, the programme provided funding to set up an epidemiological investigation (the COSMOS study) which will follow-up a large population of mobile phone users long-term.
Future Government support for this study and any new research on mobile phones and health will be managed by the Department of Health.”
The Programme received approximately £13.6 million of funding from a variety of government and industry sources and, to ensure the independence of the research, scientific management of the programme was entrusted to an independent Programme Management Committee made up of independent experts (mostly senior university academics).
It’s natural for people to fear what they can’t see and some of those fears have occasionally had or very nearly had an adverse effect on plans to improve the coverage of Mobile Broadband and Fixed Wireless Access networks in order to improve Internet connectivity around the UK (e.g. here and here).
However many of those fears have continued to exist, often in spite of evidence to the contrary, and thus we suspect that even this comprehensive 11 year study will do little to dissuade those who see mobile or wireless communication signals as a threat to public health.
In fairness the report concludes by recommending further studies to look at the behavioural/neurological outcomes of mobile phone usage on children, as well as to examine other areas like its potential impact upon sleep and brain function among other things.