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Children and Mobile Phones ... Is There a Health Risk?

Children and Mobile Phones ... Is There a Health Risk?

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Published by SwissTesla
Children may be far more vulnerable to health effects from exposure to mobile phone microwave radiation than adults.

Reprinted from Journal of Australasian College of Nutritional & Environmental Medicine - Vol. 22 No. 2; August 2003: page 3-8
Children may be far more vulnerable to health effects from exposure to mobile phone microwave radiation than adults.

Reprinted from Journal of Australasian College of Nutritional & Environmental Medicine - Vol. 22 No. 2; August 2003: page 3-8

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Reprinted from
Journal of Australasian College of Nutritional & Environmental Medicine 
- Vol. 22 No. 2 August 2003
1
 © 2003 ACNEM & Don Maisch
Reprinted from
Journal of Australasian College of Nutritional & Environmental Medicine 
- Vol. 22 No. 2; August 2003: page 3-8
Children and Mobile Phones ... Is There aHealth Risk?
The case for extra precautions 
 ® 
Don Maisch
AssocApplSciStudPhD Research Student (Wollongong University)
Children may be far more vulnerable tohealth effects fromexposure to mobile phone microwaveradiation than adults.
Introduction
On March 3
rd
, 2003, the US EnvironmentalProtection Agency (EPA) proposed newguidelines for evaluating cancer risks tochildren, on the grounds that children may be10 times more vulnerable than adults to cancerrisks from exposure to a wide range of chemicals. This is the first time the EPA hasofficially taken into account the differencesbetween adults and children when assessingcancer risks from chemical exposure. TheEPA views the question of chemical exposureas so significant, that it has written a separateguidance paper on the risks of cancer tochildren, concerned that exposure to mutagenicchemicals may be significantly moredangerous to the young.
1
At first, this may seem irrelevant tochildren’s use of mobile phones, until it isrealised that there is also a large body of scientific evidence, some of which is examinedin this paper, that indicates children may befar more vulnerable to health effects fromexposure to mobile phone microwave radiationthan adults.The EPA’s new proposed guidelines shouldserve as a wake-up call. They underscore thatextra care must be given to protect the youngwhen available evidence indicates anincreased risk to health from an environmentalagent, be it chemical, microwave or otherpossible factors.The possibility that children may incurincreased risk to health from mobile phoneuse is of concern, considering that today thefastest growing group of mobile phone usersare children and young people. This growthis actively encouraged by professionaladvertising campaigns from the mobile phoneindustry, in which they extol theindispensability of the phones to their lifestyles. It would seem that in the mad rush tomaximize corporate profits they have ‘throwncaution to the wind’ in favour of short-termprofits. There are long-term costs, however,and those are the focus of this paper.With the continuing worldwide mobilephone advertising blitz, produced by the sametransnational public relations corporations thatpreviously gave us such delightful cartooncharacters as ‘Joe Camel’ for the tobaccoindustry, no words of warning are heard.However, within the scientific communitythere is a growing chorus of expert voices thatare urging caution, because if there are adversehealth effects from mobile phone use, it willbe the children who are in the front line, andwho may pay the highest price. For the sakeof our children’s future health, we need toseriously heed these voices and limit children’suse of mobile phones.
Case History: Walt Disney Co.
An unfortunate example of how youth aredeliberately being targeted was investigatedby the New York based technical newsletter
 Microwave News
. In the May/June 2002 issueit was reported that in November 2000, justas ABC News was about to air a TV programexpressing concern over the use of mobilephones by children, the Walt Disney Co.announced that it would no longer allow itscartoon characters to be used to market mobilephones. ABC is a subsidiary of Disney. ADisney spokesperson said at the time that thenew policy would remain in effect “until thereis reliable evidence establishing the absenceof any [health] risks,” and that “the well-being of our customers is our first priority”.
2
At first this seemed like a responsibleposition by Disney, but it was exposed as asham in the July/August 2002 issue of 
 Microwave News
:“Disney and Motorola are teaming up totap the 6- to 12-year-old customer electronicsmarket. They will roll out the first products— a two-way radio and a 2.45 GHz cordlessphone — in the fall, with others to follownext year. Motorola states that the walkie-talkies will have a range of up to two miles.And in late July 2002, Disney announced thatit is launching a service which will allowcustomers in Taiwan to download images of Mickey, Donald and Goofy onto their phonescreens. In 2000, Disney pledged not to licenceits characters for use on cell phones “untilthere is reliable evidence establishing theabsence of any [health] risks.” Disney recentlyreaffirmed this commitment to
 Microwave News
.
3
The only conclusion one can draw here isthat somehow, while all the scientists doingresearch on mobile phone health effects cannotyet come up with the goods on health risks,Disney has found “reliable evidenceestablishing the absence of any [health] risks”.Fortunate news for Disney, for now they canproceed with their new telecommunicationsventure, in partnership with the paragon of truly independent research, Motorola.This constitutes a serious conflict of interestif Motorola is providing ‘evidence of safety’while at the same time entering into a majorcapital venture with Disney.
 
2
 
Reprinted from
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
1
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.”
4
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.”
5
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.
6
2
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.”
7
3
…On December 8
th
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.
8
4
...
 
On July 31, 2001,
 
Wolfram Koenig, thenew head of the
Bundesamt fürStrahlenschutz
, which is the federal authorityfor radiation protection in Germany, stated inan interview in the
Berliner Morgenpost 
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.
9
5
...
 
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.
10
6
.
..
 
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.
11
7
...
 
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.”
12
8
...
 
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.
13
9
...
 
Statement from Dr. Gerard Hyland of the
University of Warwick, Coventry,England, and the International Institute of Biophysics,
 
Neuss-Holzheim, Germany.
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
 
Reprinted from
Journal of Australasian College of Nutritional & Environmental Medicine 
- Vol. 22 No. 2 August 2003
3
 © 2003 ACNEM & Don Maisch
to be (potentially) more at risk than are adults- as recognised in the Report of the UKIndependent Expert Group on Mobile Phones(the Stewart Report) - for the followingreasons:Absorption of microwaves of the frequencyused in mobile telephony is greater(particularly at 900 MHz) in an object aboutthe size of a child’s head - the so-called headresonance – than in an adult’s, whilst, inconsequence of the thinner skull of a child,the penetration of the radiation into the brainis greater than in an adult.The still developing nervous system andassociated brain-wave activity in a child (andparticularly one that is epileptic) are morevulnerable to aggression by the pulses of microwaves used in GSM than is the casewith a mature adult. This is because themulti-frame repetition frequency of 8.34 Hzand the 2 Hz pulsing that characterizes thesignal from a phone equipped with the energy-saving discontinuous transmission(DTX) mode, lie in the range of the alpha and delta brain waveactivities, respectively. The factthat these two particular electricalactivities are constantly changingin a child until the age of about 12years, when the delta-wavesdisappear and the alpha rhythm isfinally stabilized, means that achild’s brain must be anticipatedto be
doubly
vulnerable tointerference from the GSM pulsing.The increased mitotic activityin the cells of developing childrenmakes them more susceptible togenetic damage.A child’s immune system,whose efficiency is degraded byradiation of the kind used in mobiletelephony, is generally less robustthan that of an adult, so that thechild is less able to cope with anyadverse health effect provoked by(chronic) exposure to suchradiation.”
14
10
...
Dr Hyland was also an adviser in
asmall unpublished Spanish study
, examiningchanges in brain activity after a child uses amobile phone.
 
The study, by Dr MichaelKlieeisen from the Neuro Diagnostic ResearchInstitute in Marbella, Spain found that a singlecall lasting just two minutes, can alter thenatural electrical activity of a child’s brain forup to an hour afterwards. It was also foundthat the microwaves penetrated deep into thebrain and not just around the ear.The subjects were an 11-year-old boy and a13-year-old girl. Using a CATEEN scanner,linked to a machine measuring brain waveactivity, researchers were able to makephotographic images of the changes in brainelectrical activity.In a newspaper interview, Dr Hyland saidthat he finds the results “extremelydisturbing”. “It makes one wonder whetherchildren, whose brains are still developing,should be using mobile phones,” he adds.“The results show that children’s brains areaffected for long periods even after very short-term use. “Their brain wave patterns areabnormal and stay like that for a long period.This could affect their mood and ability tolearn in the classroom if they have been usinga phone during break time, for instance. Wedon’t know all the answers yet, but thealteration in brain waves could lead to thingslike a lack of concentration, memory loss,inability to learn and aggressive behaviour.”“If I were a parent I would now be extremelywary about allowing my children to use amobile even for a very short period. My advicewould be to avoid mobiles.”Dr Michael Klieeisen, who conducted thestudy, said: “We were able to see in minutedetail what was going on in the brain. Wenever expected to see this continuing activityin the brain. We are worried that delicatebalances that exist - such as the immunity toinfection and disease - could be altered byinterference with chemical balances in thebrain.”
15 16
11
...
Professor Leif Salford and co-workers,authors of study on possible nerve damagefrom mobile phone radiation
, warn aboutthe possible implications for teenagers.
 
Prof Salford and colleagues at Lund University inSweden exposed 12- and 26-week-old rats totwo hours of microwave radiation, comparableto that of a GSM mobile phone. Rats of thisage were chosen because their developmentalage is comparable to that of human teenagers.“ The situation of the growing brain mightdeserve special concern,” the authors wrote,“since biological and maturational processesare particularly vulnerable”.After fifty days, the rat brains wereexamined for damage. The study found thatthe microwave exposure was associated withleakage of albumin through the blood-brainbarrier and neuronal damage that increasedaccording to the amount of exposure. Althoughthe numbers of rats in the study was small theauthors stated that “the combined results arehighly significant and exhibit a clear dose-response relation”. They cautioned: “Wecannot exclude that after some decades of often daily use, a whole generation of usersmay suffer negative effects as early as middleage.”
17
In an interview with the BBC News, Prof.Salford said that “A rat’s brain is very muchthe same as a human’s. They have the sameblood-brain barrier and neurons. We havegood reason to believe what happens in rat’sbrains also happens in humans.”
18
“If this effect was to transfer to young mobileusers, the effects could be terrifying. We cansee reduced brain reserve capacity, meaningthose who might normally have gotAlzheimer’s dementia in old age could get itmuch earlier.”
19
Prof. Salford then cautionedthat mobile phone users shouldnot be alarmed by the findings asit is one observation, in onelaboratory with a small numberof animals, and needs to berepeated. “Nevertheless, it isstrong enough to merit moreresearch into this area.” He thenadded: “Perhaps putting a mobilephone repeatedly to your head issomething that might not be goodin the long term…Maybe weshould think about restricting ouruse of mobile phones”
20
Prof. Salford said on the BBCRadio program “You and Yours”on 5 February 2003, that he wouldnot allow his children to use amobile phone other than for areal emergency and he himself chooses not to use one other thanwhen absolutely necessary. Hesaid he rated the reality of braindamage as a “probability ratherthan a possibility”.
21
12
...
WHO Director General on children& mobile phone use
:
 
Dr Gro HarlemBrundtland, former Prime Minister of Norwayand Director General of the World HealthOrganisation (WHO), favours a precautionaryapproach to the use of mobile phones and haspublicly discouraged children from usingmobile phones.Brundtland advises everyone to limit theamount of time on the phone, but she does notthink there is enough scientific evidence toissue a formal warning. Brundtland says thatshe gets a headache whenever she uses amobile phone. “In the beginning I felt warmtharound my ear. But the discomfort got worseand turned into a headache every time I useda mobile phone.” Making shorter calls doesnot help, she said in a newspaper interview.The interview was featured on the front pageof ‘Dagbladet Norge’ and was later picked upby the Swedish press.
22

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