Journal of Australasian College of Nutritional & Environmental Medicine
- Vol. 22 No. 2 August 2003 © 2003 ACNEM & Don Maisch
To be fair to Disney, their executives wouldonly have been provided with the opinions of Motorola about the safety of children usingmobile phones and may be blissfully unawarethat the science is not as black and white asthey have been led to believe. Consideringthat Disney has a significant influence onmany millions of children, the possibility of harm being inflicted on these children bytheir wireless products must be given seriousconsideration.
Statements of concern from thescientific community
In 1999, as a result of public concernsabout possible health hazards from mobilephone technology, the UK Government formedthe
Independent Expert Group on MobilePhones (IEGMP)
to examine possible effectsof mobile phones and transmitter base stations.This group was headed by Sir WilliamStewart, the famous British biochemist andpresident of the British Association for theAdvancement of Science. What made theStewart Inquiry unique, was that it was madeup almost entirely of biomedical specialists— and so it was able to focus many years of acquired specialist knowledge on the problem.Their report, “Mobile Phones and Health”,was released in April 2000. In regards to theuse of mobile phones by children the IEGMPstated:“If there are currently unrecognizedadverse health effects from the use of mobilephones, children may be more vulnerablebecause of their developing nervous system,the greater absorption of energy in the tissuesof the head and a longer lifetime of exposure.In line with our precautionary approach, webelieve that the widespread use of mobilephones by children for non-essential callsshould be discouraged. We also recommendthat the mobile phone industry should refrainfrom promoting the use of mobile phones bychildren.”
Sir William said at a science conference atGlasgow University in September 2001, thatmobile phone makers often presented theirproducts in advertisements as essential “back to school” items for children. Such advertswere irresponsible, said Sir William. Headded: “They are irresponsible becausechildren’s skulls are not fully developed. Theywill be using mobile phones for longer, andtheir effects won’t be known for some time tocome. Mobile phone technology has been ledby the physical sciences. My own view is weought to be doing more work on the potentialbiological effects.”
In January 2003, Professor Lawrie Challiswho replaced Sir William Stewart as chairmanof the Mobile Telecommunications HealthResearch team, (The Stewart Committee) re-stated the Committee’s views on children andmobile phone use. In an interview with a UKpaper, Prof Challis mentioned that he wasworried by the level of mobile phone useamong children. He said, more needed to bedone towards educating youngsters aboutlimiting the time they spend on phones.
… Concerns about children using mobilephones was specifically mentioned in a recentreport (July, 2002) by the
Science and PublicPolicy Institute
, based in Arlington, Virginia,USA. The institute was founded by Dr GeorgeCarlo, who formerly ran the U.S. wirelessindustry’s $28 million research program intothe possible health risks of cell phone use.The report “Proposals for SupplementaryFunding” states on page 4:“Special concern for children followed fromthe research. Studies showed that radiationpenetrated deeper into the heads of teenagersand children resulting in more exposure topotentially harmful radio waves than adults;the type of genetic damage that was found –micronuclei in human blood – is more likelyto occur in growing tissue undergoing mitosis,such as growing brain tissue in children; thewireless industry had targeted children as agrowth market and were succeeding inincreasing cell phone usage among childrenand teenagers.”The report also recommends the“development of informational materials forchildren and their parents, regarding thescience and solutions that can be used inschools.”
…On December 8
2000 a statement wasissued by the
German Academy of Paediatrics
advising parents to restrict theirchildren’s use of mobile phones. They advisedthat all mobile phone users keep conversationsas brief as possible but that additionalprecautions are appropriate for children inview of “special health risks” associated withtheir growing bodies.
On July 31, 2001,
Wolfram Koenig, thenew head of the
, which is the federal authorityfor radiation protection in Germany, stated inan interview in the
that“Parents should take their children away fromthat technology [mobile phones]”. Mr Koenig,also a member of Germany’s Greens party,said that “Some people are very sensitive toradiation,” and urged companies not to targetchildren in their advertising campaigns.
In a statement delivered at an AustralianSenate Inquiry meeting in 2000:
CSIROTelecommunications and Industrial Physics
chief, Gerry Haddad, warned that the newtelecommunications exposure standards beingdrafted neglected to provide a high enoughlevel of protection, particularly in relation tochildren. Mr Haddad said, “Restrict use of mobile phones to children for essentialpurposes … A precautionary principle wouldseem to be a good idea:”. Dr Haddadcomplained that the CSIRO’s view had beenrejected in the formulation of new emissionstandards that stopped short of advising thatchildren be restricted in their mobile phoneuse.
A day after the release of a Danish mobilephone study titled “Cellular Telephones andCancer – a Nationwide Cohort Study inDenmark”,
a panel of scientists in Denmark
debated the findings and questioned thevalidity of the study conclusions. Panelchairman Professor Albert Gjedde, a brainspecialist, also expressed concern that childrencould be more vulnerable, because their braincells are still growing and therefore EMF hadthe potential to lead to more serious braindamage than in adults. He advised extremecaution in accepting assurances of safety, andsuggested Denmark reduce children’sexposure to mobile phone emissions to aminimum.
In a statement from Olle Johansson, Assoc.Professor,
The Experimental DermatologyUnit, Department of Neuroscience,Karolinska Institute, Sweden. (September, 2001)
“… Already in 1996, I started towarn in public of the effects on microwaveirradiation on children through their use of mobile telephones. The debate has also verymuch focused on the responsibility regardingads and products directly aimed for children,and here in Sweden great alarm has beenraised around the propositions to even developand sell cell phones for the ages up to 5years.”
In a statement from Sianette Kwee,Professor,
Department of MedicalBiochemistry, University of Aarhus,Denmark.
(Member of the Editorial Board of Bioelectrochemistry. Danish expertrepresentative in the European Union’s COST281 project ‘Potential health effects fromEmerging Wireless Communication Systems’,Basic Research Group.)Fields of research: bioelectrochemistry :electroporation - electrochemistry of biological systems, bioelectromagnetics:biological effects of environmentalelectromagnetic fields (extremely lowfrequency /ELF and microwave /MW), oncell growth in human amnion cells.“Our studies showed that there was asignificant change in cell growth in thesecells after being exposed to EMF fields fromboth power lines (ELF) and from mobilephones (MW). These biological effects weregreatest in young and vigorously growing cells,but much less in old cells. These results tellus, that e.g. microwave fields from mobilephones can be expected to affect children to amuch greater degree than adults.
Statement from Dr. Gerard Hyland of the
University of Warwick, Coventry,England, and the International Institute of Biophysics,
Excerpt (dealing specifically with childrenand mobile phone use) from his Report forthe STOA Committee of the EU.‘The Increased Vulnerability of Pre-adolescent Children’:“Pre-adolescent children can be expected