28 June 2000
NECESSARY TO ESTABLISH
In many countries, over half the population already uses mobile phones and the industry predicts that there will be as many as 1.6 billion mobile phone subscribers worldwide in the year 2005. But there is still some uncertainty about the health effects of radiofrequency fields (RF) which mobile phones and their base stations emit.
Following a recent international conference on the possible health effects of mobile telephones conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO), and the release of key national reviews in Canada and the United Kingdom, WHO has updated its recommendations on this topic. The information is published today in WHO Revised Fact Sheet No. 193 on mobile telephones and base stations.
"There are a number of important recommendations," said Dr Michael Repacholi, Coordinator of WHO's Occupational and Environmental Health Unit and manager of the International Electromagnetic Fields (EMF) Project. These include:
"All the information we have to date shows no adverse health effects from the use of mobile phones," emphasized Dr Repacholi. "However, most studies have examined the results of whole body exposure to RF fields at levels far higher than those normally associated with wireless communications. With the advent of such devices as walkie-talkies and mobile phones, it has become apparent that few studies address the consequences of localised exposures to RF fields to the head."
Health conditions which have been ascribed to the use of mobile phones include some types of cancer and changes in brain activity. But no studies on humans have yet supported these claims.
WHO is also conducting RF research. A large epidemiology study is being co-ordinated in over 10 countries by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) – a specialised cancer research agency of WHO – to identify if there are links between use of mobile phones and head and neck cancers. The study is anticipated to be completed in 2003.
For further information please contact Gregory Hartl, WHO Press Spokesperson, Geneva. Tel (+41 22) 791 4458, Fax (+41 22) 791 4858. E-mail:email@example.com
All WHO Press Releases, Fact Sheets and Features can be obtained on Internet on the WHO home page http://www.who.int