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Can mobile phones

damage your health?

What advice is there for children using Where can you get more information?
mobile phones? Information is critical for consumer choice. If you want to
The scientific evidence does not show any danger to mobile decide how best to use your mobile phone, you need to know
phone users, whether you’re an adult or child. the facts.

The government does, however, recommend limiting the use We are committed to keeping our customers – and anyone
of mobile phones by children as a precautionary measure. The affected by our technology – updated with any relevant new
reason for this is that if there are any health risks associated research and advice on health and mobile phones. You can
with mobile phones, children may be more vulnerable find this leaflet on and we will continually
because of their developing nervous system and a longer keep our customers updated at this site.
lifetime of exposure.
There are also number of places where you can get further
The government advises that children and young people should: information. These include:

• Use mobile phones for essential purposes only Department of Health
• Keep all calls shorts
Mobile Telecommunications and Health Research Programme
We do not market to under 16s, but many parents choose to
give their children mobile phones as in their minds the many
benefits outweigh the concerns. O2 is committed to protecting World Health Organisation
children and young people from the harmful use of mobile
phones. We produce a wide range of information and advice
for parents on issues ranging from personal safety to bullying National Radiological Protection Board
and Internet grooming, all of which is available in our stores or
on our web site.
Detailed information on the location of base stations in the UK
(Sitefinder Mobile Phone Base Station Database) can be found

O2HHP001N KGL 01/05
O2 (UK) Limited, 260 Bath Road, Slough, Berkshire SL1 4DX
Registered in England No. 1743099. Registered Office as above.
© O2 (UK) Limited 2002. Correct at time of going to press (January 2005)
Advising you of the facts
Mobile phones are transforming our lives. More than 55 Your mobile phone – or handset – needs to communicate with The majority of antennas transmit at power levels ranging There have been more than 450 research studies into the
million people in the UK own a mobile phone and make and a fixed installation known as a base station, which is typically a from a few watts, or less, to 100 watts, depending on the size safety of mobile phone technology, and the scientific
receive millions of calls and text messages every day at home mast with an antenna. It’s just like the radios used by taxis and of the region or ‘cell’ they cover. consensus is that mobile phones and mobile communication
and at work, or when they’re just out and about. other services. The base station then connects your call to other masts are not a threat to human health.
calls or phone networks using traditional telephone lines. The UK’s National Radiological Protection Board (NRPB) has
They have other social advantages. For example, Asthma measured radio waves from transmitters other than mobile The World Health Organisation (WHO) has said: ‘None of the
sufferers using a specially adapted O2 mobile phone were In order to talk to each other, mobile phones and base phone masts, for example, those used for broadcast radio and recent reviews have concluded that exposure to RF fields from
better able to monitor their condition, report results back to stations use radio waves. Radio waves are not radioactive. television, which can transmit at power levels more than 1000 mobile phones or their base stations cause any adverse health
their GP and take their treatment on time. ‘Teach UR Mum 2 They are not the same as x-rays and their effects on humans times higher than mobile phone masts. The measurements consequences. However, there are gaps in knowledge that
Txt’, a joint initiative between O2 and registered charity Milly’s are entirely different. show that radio waves from these transmitters can often have been identified for further research to better assess
Fund, was set up to make parents more text savvy and aid exceed exposures produced by a nearby mobile phone mast. health risks’.
better communication with their children. Radio waves can cause heating of body tissues if you’re
exposed to it in large amounts. However, because both mobile In January 2004, the Government’s independent Advisory So, although there is no evidence that mobile phone
Additionally, the Met Office uses mobile telephony for flood phones and masts have low-power transmitters in them, the Group on Non-Ionising Radiation published its review of technology is harmful to humans, it is widely recognised that
and severe weather warnings and the Crown Prosecution radio wave exposure levels of the general public are typically medical research conducted since the 2000 Stewart Report. more research needs to be done.
Service texts trial witnesses with updates on the progress of very low and not thought to be harmful in any way. It concluded that “Exposure levels from living near to
cases to help prevent cases collapsing. mobile phone base stations are extremely low, and the We fully support this view and are partly funding a number
overall evidence indicates that they are unlikely to pose a of important independent research studies in the UK
There has, however, been a lot of debate about whether or Mobile phones risk to health”. and Germany.
not mobile phones and base stations are safe. In essence, the The radio waves emitted by your phone or handset are
issue is about determining the safe level of exposure to the between about 0.01 to 2.0 watts, which is comparable to the
radio waves from your mobile and base stations. How safe are mobile phones? Is there anything you can do to minimise any
output of other hand held two-way radios.
All of O2’s systems operate within international exposure limits possible health risks?
We believe it’s important that all our customers are fully The level of radio waves from mobile phones is too low to developed by the UK’s National Radiological Protection Board
We obviously hope that future scientific research will prove
aware of the facts. This leaflet explains how a mobile phone cause any significant heating of body tissues. You might, (NRPB), the International Commission on Non-Ionizing
beyond doubt that mobile phones are safe.
works and gives you the latest independent research findings however, sometimes feel a rise in skin temperature if you have Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) and the European Commission.
and advice. been holding the mobile phone close up against your ear or
But, if you are concerned about your exposure to radio waves,
head for a long period. This is not caused by the radio waves, The exposure limit for mobile phone handsets is called the
you can take measures to reduce it. These include:
We can’t provide you with all the answers because research but due to holding something close to the body – you are Specific Absorption Rate (SAR). This measures the amount of
into the safety of mobile communications is still going on. We likely to get the same effect holding a book to your ear. radio wave energy that is absorbed by the tissues in the
can, however, provide you with the facts as they stand today, human body. Variations in SAR do not mean that there are • Limiting the amount of time you spend on your mobile
and we remain committed to keeping you informed. variations in safety as all handsets sold by O2 operate within phone
The further you are away from your phone, the less your
exposure to any radiation will be. So, even if your phone is just exposure guidelines (information on the SAR is available with
a few centimeters away from your head, the radio wave all our new phones and on manufacturer web sites). • Taking your phone out of your pocket and putting it on a
How does your mobile phone work? exposure is far lower than if you have the phone pressed up nearby surface when you’re at home or at work
Mobile phones work by converting voice, text or multi-media against your head. Our networks operate at the lowest power levels that provide
messages into radio waves, often called radio frequency the standard of service required by our customers. The output • Moving the phone away from the body by using a hands-
radiation or microwave radiation. from our antennas, where the general public have access, is free kit or loudspeaking mode if available or why not
Masts typically hundreds, or thousands, of times below the consider texting as an alternative
There’s nothing new about this technology. Radio waves have international recommendations.
It is only the antenna that transmits the radio waves. The
been used for communication for over 100 years by the • Checking the SAR of a phone before you buy it, although
masts, are merely the mounting for the antennas and do not
military, emergency and breakdown services, local authorities Our antennas are carefully positioned with clear safety signs, the power which a phone transmits is controlled by the
transmit. However, antennas vary in size and may not always
and the BBC. Everyday household objects such as televisions, and restrictions to avoid inadvertent public access. Where network and in many situations is far lower than its
be mounted on masts. Antennas generally have to be
radios, baby monitors and cordless phones – for instance – all required, our antennas and masts are cordoned off to prevent maximum power
positioned high up because radio waves travel in an
use radio waves to work. approximate straight line and can be interrupted or deflected people from getting too close to the equipment.
by anything in their way such as trees or buildings. • Turning your phone off when you don’t need to use it