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MOBILE PHONE HEALTH RISKS


Programme : PANORAMA
Station : BBC 1 TV
Date : 24/05/99
Time : 22:00
Duration : 40 MINUTES

PAUL KENYON: Reporter

Tonight on Panorama, worrying new research on mobile phone safety. Two new studies, one from America and one from Europe, suggest that there could be a link between mobiles and brain tumours. One of the industry’s own leading experts says the public must be told.

DR. GEORGE CARLO: Wireless Technology Research

We want to inform people of our findings, we have informed the government, we have informed the industry and we believe that the decisions should be placed in the hands of the consumers.

PAUL KENYON:

We test the radiation from a range of phones and ask what’s the truth behind the mobile mystery?

 

Stephen Corney should be enjoying life as the father of a ten-month-old baby boy, but his life’s been dramatically changed by a mystery illness. It has damaged his speech and his memory.

STEPHEN CORNEY: Father

I still remember odd bits of the last three years but very, like, foggy, you know, as if they were twenty, thirty years ago.

PAUL KENYON:

Steve used to play guitar in a pub band - he was lively, friendly and outgoing. He had a well-paid job, travelling the country as a senior engineer with British Telecom. When a new type of mobile came on the market, Steve was asked to monitor its signal. Gradually, he began to experience problems.

STEPHEN CORNEY:

You could be on the phone for five hours in one go and just keep swapping the batteries. As I was on the phone, it felt as if I’d got a steel band round my head and the longer I used the phone, it felt like it was been tightened up.

PAUL KENYON:

So there was actual pain there, there was pain?

STEPHEN CORNEY:

It ran like through my eyes, right through my ears, in a complete sort of band right round my head.

PAUL KENYON:

At first, when Steve took away the phone away from his head, the symptoms seemed to ease. Then they didn’t. His girlfriend began to notice behaviour changes.

LISA HUTCHINGS: Girlfriend

He was ringing me because he was getting lost, and he wasn’t talking to people as much as he used to. He was having difficulties doing the simplest of things and also he became quite frustrated with himself. He got quite irritated and started having sort of mood swings.

PAUL KENYON:

Steve tried to struggle on, but a year after he got his new mobile phone his life finally ground to a halt. He realised that when he stopped at a service motorway station.

STEPHEN CORNEY:

When I came out, I couldn’t find my BT car and I was...

PAUL KENYON:

This is your company car you’d left only few seconds before?

STEPHEN CORNEY:

Yeah, I could not find it. I was panicked because my pager was going off and my phone was ringing. What happened was, I was looking for my old yellow BT car which I had had a few years before instead of looking for the new grey Fiesta.

PAUL KENYON:

Steve went to his GP. He was signed off work. At first, his doctor thought that it was a nervous breakdown; then, the focus shifted. Steve’s GP wrote to British Telecom about another possibility, the mobile phone. In the letter, he said: "I’m anxious to discover more about the possibility of microwave radiation damage from excess use of his two mobile phones for long periods of time." Steve was retired from BT on medical grounds just over a year ago. He has not used a mobile phone since, but his condition remains the same. He can even forget he’s got a baby.

STEPHEN CORNEY:

When he was first born, for a couple of months I’d forget, it just didn’t, like, exist - if he wasn’t there in the room, I would forget all about him. I’d even put all the lights off and gone to bed and left him downstairs.

PAUL KENYON:

Steve was so convinced his mobile was responsible for his condition, he began legal proceedings against BT. They’ve always rejected the idea of a link. After two months, Steve had to drop his case because of a lack of scientific evidence. But his story is just part of the growing mobile mystery. More and more people with conditions ranging from memory loss to brain cancer are starting to suspect their mobiles. Some scientists are now finding evidence that could support their theories, but the manufacturers, big names like Motorola, Ericsson and Nokia insist their products are safe.

PETER HARRISON: Nokia

Based on the scientific knowledge to date, there is no demonstrated health risk with mobile phones.

PAUL KENYON:

So, mobile phones are safe as far as you are concerned?

PETER HARRISON:

The consensus of scientific opinion is that mobile phones are safe, yes.

PROFESSOR HENRY LAI: University of Washington, Seattle

I cannot agree at all with what they are telling the public. There is a concern, and probably, it’s not safe.

PAUL KENYON

The warnings so far have made little impression, as we’re sold the glossy images of a mobile phone life style. Mobile phone sales just keep on booming. One in four now in the UK have a mobile. The manufacturers play on the prestige and even sex appeal of the cellphone. It’s an image that’s appealing to an ever-younger audience. Mobile phones have moved from being an executive power tool to a schoolyard fashion statement in less than a decade. A new generation is hooked.

SCHOOL NUN:

Now, I am going to ask each one of you how many of you have got a mobile phone? Put your hand up if you’ve got a mobile phone ... quite a few of you, I would think - possibly - about half of you.

SCHOOLGIRL #1:

Most people just bring it in to show off, and they’ve got friends are round the corner "Yeah, yeah, I’m going to meet you!" And they’re both on the phone, "Yeah!"

PAUL KENYON:

How difficult you think it would be for you to do without the phone now?

SCHOOLGIRL #2:

God, I’ve had it very long. I’d feel weird, because I got my phone, this phone, nicked once, and I was just lost, I was walking about like "where’s my phone?" I kept thinking that I had lost it.

PAUL KENYON:

The mobile phone is taking over life so swiftly not many have paused to consider one of its unique characteristics. It’s the only device used by half a billion people worldwide which delivers up to 40% of its radiation directly into the head. Most of us have been exposed to X-rays, but only in short doses, because scientists know that overexposure can lead to cancer. Less is known about mobile phone radiation. It’s a type of microwave like we use for cooking, but with a thousand times less power, a level traditionally seen as harmless. Hidden inside the case of the phone is a mass of electronics. It only emits radiation during conversation.

The key to how much radiation the brain absorbs is this, the phone’s antenna. This is where the bulk of the radiation comes from. When you’re speaking, the distance between this and the brain is less than an inch.

[Addressing Dr Alan Preece] What happens to the 40% of the radiation that comes out of the phone and goes into your head, where does that go?

DR. ALAN PREECE: University of Bristol

Well, some of it will get absorbed in the skin and the skull, but about half of that will go through to the brain and be absorbed in the brain and will certainly be converted into heat.

PAUL KENYON:

A group of scientists here decide how much of that heat is safe for us. They use a computer model which maps the distribution of mobile phone radiation in the head. Heat is the only property of microwave radiation they measure.

DR. JOHN STATHER: National Radiological Protection Board

Guidelines are based on the heating effect of radiowaves with body tissues and we set guidelines such that there won’t be any health effects caused by exposure of the body tissues to radiowaves from mobile phones.

PAUL KENYON:

Do you acknowledge anything other than a heating effect?

DR. JOHN STATHER:

No, we believe, as do international bodies, that the heating effect of radiowaves is what we should be basing our standards on.

PAUL KENYON:

But increasingly, scientists are wondering if heat really is the only property of mobile phone radiation. Some unexplained recent test results seem to suggest another mysterious property, something causing mobiles to interfere with the behaviour with the human brain.

DR. ALAN PREECE:

I’m probably the first one that actually got volunteers to undertake tests while they’re operating a mobile phone in order to see what effect it has on them.

PAUL KENYON:

But mobile phones have been around for several years now, millions of people use them every day. Are you saying that there is really almost no science around to tell us that they are really safe?

DR. ALAN PREECE:

I think that’s a true statement. There is no science around to tell us one way or the other.

PAUL KENYON:

These are some of the 36 human guinea pigs used by Dr. Alan Preece in his unique experiment at Bristol University. He wanted to see how mobile phone radiation would affect their mental abilities. If it did, conventional science wouldn’t be enough to explain it. Each member of the group had a mobile phone attached to their head. They then sat a number of tests, looking at things like memory and spatial awareness. It seemed the mobile phone had no effect until the test on reaction time.

DR. ALAN PREECE:

What we did discover was a change in the ability to make choices which involves the visual cortex, the speech centres, and is actually processed by a part of the brain which is just behind and just above the ear - and that happens to be, in our experiments, where we had the maximum radiation which is at the base of the antenna effectively.

PAUL KENYON:

In fact, Dr. Preece had discovered that mobile phones could improve reaction time. Sounds like good news, but it’s not. It seems to demonstrate that mobile phone signals can interfere with the brain’s functions, something the manufacturers can’t accept. Heat alone isn’t thought sufficient to produce such an effect, so Dr. Preece is left with something he can’t explain, something that could be a non-thermal effect.

DR. ALAN PREECE:

But if it is a non-thermal effect, then repeated application of microwaves to the head could be introducing long-term changes, and that can’t be a good thing because this is inducing a permanent change in the tissue which means it’s less able to respond.

PAUL KENYON:

Dr. Preece’s results make uncomfortable reading for the manufacturers. Any acknowledgement of anything other than heating, a non-thermal effect, could hit sales.

PAUL KENYON:

Can a heating effect alone explain what Alan Preece found?

PETER HARRISON: Nokia

A heating effect alone - maybe. That’s one of the things that Alan suggested in his paper, but of course there may be other effects at play there and it clearly needs to be investigated further.

PAUL KENYON:

So it could be something other than a heating effect?

PETER HARRISON:

Well, it’s possible, at the moment, he has this finding and it needs to be investigated further.

PAUL KENYON:

So, we just don’t know?

PETER HARRISON:

At the present time, in that particular study, no, but there are many other studies which have had negative effects and this is one of many studies which adds to the scientific database.

PAUL KENYON:

Other mysteries are even more worrying for the manufacturers. In the early ‘90s, links between mobiles and brain tumours were being found by scientists in America. America was experiencing a mobile phone revolution well before us. Sales were booming and shares were high. Then, an event sent a shudder through the entire industry. It came from this affluent corner of Florida. David Reynard was the man behind it. He worked in the telecommunications industry, pioneering mobile phones, along with his wife. In the early ‘90s, just after giving birth to their son, Susie Reynard started suffering headaches and dizziness.

DAVID REYNARD:

At one point she was unable to put senses together, she couldn’t do objects, verbs and nouns, and she was very frustrated with it. We went to see the doctor, and the doctor performed this scan, and that’s how they found the tumour.

PAUL KENYON:

It was a tumour the size of a golf ball. Her husband wanted answers. Gradually, as they asked scientists about possible cures, the question of cellphone use was raised. The Reynard family had got into mobiles early on. They had always known that the devices emitted microwave radiation, they never thought it could be harmful.

DAVID REYNARD:

I think we’ve all heard about the power lines and people thought the power lines might be causing cancer and I don’t think people realise how much actual energy there is in microwaves which is a much higher frequency.

PAUL KENYON:

It’s quite an unusual leap to make, isn’t it?

DAVID REYNARD:

Not necessarily. Her antenna would have been used on the left side of her head and the tumour occurred directly where the antenna was located.

PAUL KENYON:

Susie Reynard was so convinced that her frequent mobile phone use was to blame that she began a lawsuit against the manufacturers. She died before it concluded. David vowed to fight on.

DAVID REYNARD:

We wanted to make sure that people at least were knowledgeable about what they were buying, and I think that this was something Susie was more concerned about than whom to blame or what to do. Make sure that people at least understand what it is they’re putting up to their head.

PAUL KENYON:

After her death, David took his views on mobile phones to the media.

DAVID REYNARD:

I got a call and the Larry Live Show had asked me to come on and do an interview. It wasn’t till the next morning when I was absolutely inundated with calls by the news media and, at that point, I came home, packed, went to New York and spent two weeks there, and that’s where the news media blitz came in to apply.

LOUIS SLESIN: Editor, Microwave News

Certainly, America and the rest of the world was transfixed with the possibility that this new technology could present a really serious health risk. As a result, it was front page news, the stock market rocked, cellphone stocks plummeted, and the industry knew it had to do something immediately.

PAUL KENYON:

In Washington, the politicians got involved. They wanted immediate research into mobile phones, and they wanted the manufacturers to pay for it. In this quiet Washington street began the world’s biggest research programme into mobile phones safety. The industry gave it 25 million dollars and five years to come up with the answers, and this is the name of the guy in charge.

DR. GEORGE CARLO: Wireless Technology Research

The fact was that they were not data that could be directly reassuring to the public because there were no studies that were directly relevant to cellular phones. We were set up to identify any problems that did follow from the use of cell phones and to prescribe solutions to those problems, so that they could be corrected before the public was adversely affected.

PAUL KENYON:

With the WTR research programme under way, public confidence was restored, but behind the scenes, controversy about the science continued. Across the other side of America, in Seattle, one scientist was making some worrying discoveries. Professor Henry Lai is a world expert on microwave radiation. In 1993, his work was being financed by the US Government. He was testing the effects of microwave radiation on rats. The power he was using was less than that of a mobile phone. Conventional science indicated, there could be no effect. The animals were exposed for two hours. Lai and his partner, Dr. Singh, were monitoring the rats’ DNA, the chemical at the centre of life itself. Damaged DNA can lead to cancer. Lai and Singh were astonished: the rats’ DNA appeared to be breaking up.

DR. HENRY LAI:

Well, I think the first thing that went through my mind was that this cannot be true. We checked, we carefully checked what we did, and of course we did more experiments to confirm what we observed. This is a big find, and the other thing is that the consequence of DNA breaks is very serious. If too much of this damage accumulates, the cell can become cancerous.

LOUIS SLESIN:

There was extraordinary interest in this work, they were pathbreaking. I mean, they were extremely important, especially for the fledgling cellular phone industry.

PAUL KENYON:

And what should the next move have been?

LOUIS SLESIN:

The next move was obvious, I mean, was to give them more money to flesh out the science and to fund two or three other laboratories immediately to set up shop and find out whether they could repeat it.

PAUL KENYON:

In fact, Panorama can reveal at least one of the manufacturers responded by trying to undermine the findings. The attack came in a memo meant only for the top people in Motorola. The author was Motorola’s head of global strategy, Norm Sandler. In it, he discussed ways of putting a damper on the research of Lai and Singh by undermining their methodology. He finishes by saying "I think that we have sufficiently war-gamed the Lai/Singh issue".

PAUL KENYON:

What do you think war-gaming means in that context?

DR. HENRY LAI:

Well, war-gaming means that they want to do war with us.

PAUL KENYON:

Maybe they wanted to do war because they didn’t trust your findings.

DR. HENRY LAI:

Ah, well, you don’t do war with people if you don’t trust the finding. You just do more research.

PAUL KENYON:

To call it a war game, that was an unfortunate phrase, wasn’t it?

NORM SANDLER: Motorola

I think that it merely reflected the fact that knew that this was going to attract a great deal of attention in the public arena and in the scientific community.

PAUL KENYON:

Is it a phrase that you regret using then?

NORM SANDLER:

Not necessarily. Again, I think it reflects in part the environment in which we found ourselves at that time, the pressure that we presumably were under to respond to questions and to offer up our expertise and assessment of that research as it became public.

PAUL KENYON:

But it does suggest, doesn’t it, putting a corporate spin - if you like - on what really is science?

NORM SANDLER:

We have never attempted to put a corporate spin on the science.

PAUL KENYON:

Over the years, the people at Motorola have produced a number of handy little booklets for those of us worried about the potential health effects of mobile phones. In this one, they boast about their leading role in research, their participation of professional meetings and their work with independent scientists - like this guy here ... [points to cartoon scientist on front of Motorola booklet].

PAUL KENYON:

In real life, it was this man, Dr. Ross Adey who Motorola were turning to. In the ‘60s, he tested the effects of space travel on monkeys’ brains. By 1994, it was rats, mobile phones and cancer. His rats were exposed to mobile phone radiation for two hours a day over their entire lives. Motorola asked him to see if there was an increase in the animals’ brain tumours.

 

 

 

 

PAUL KENYON:

And did you find there was an increase?

DR. ROSS ADEY: Former Motorola Scientist

No, we found that there was a decrease that was very significant in animals that died before the end of the experiment.

PAUL KENYON:

The results appeared to suggest the rats actually benefited from mobile phone radiation.

LOUIS SLESIN:

Motorola, you might think, would be on the mountain tops, screaming "Hey, they’re good for you!", but there was no press release, there was no press conference, there was no press coverage.

PAUL KENYON:

For Motorola, these must have been uncomfortable findings. It was more evidence that mobile phones appeared to be having a biological effect.

DR. ROSS ADEY:

Going up or down, with respect to tumour numbers, is less significant than that there is an effect.

LOUIS SLESIN:

Because once you open that Pandora’s Box and allow that microwaves at these levels can have these effects, then you have to ask the next question, what else can it do?

PAUL KENYON:

But Dr. Adey says, Motorola did not want to ask that particular question; they decided not to continue his work.


PAUL KENYON:

Were they genuinely interested, do you think, in finding out the truth about mobile phones?

DR. ROSS ADEY:

I think their scientists are, yes.

PAUL KENYON:

But Motorola as an organisation?

DR. ROSS ADEY:

No.

 

PAUL KENYON:

What were they interested in?

DR. ROSS ADEY:

Sustaining the case that there is no public health risk in the use of mobile phones.

PAUL KENYON:

Motorola dispute that and say that they fund more research than other manufacturers, that they did repeat Henry Lai’s work, but used a different testing method and found nothing. They say Dr. Adey’s work was designed to find an increase in tumours, not a decrease; to that end, it found nothing.

NORM SANDLER:

The Motorola programme to date has been designed not to validate what we already know, but to challenge what we know, and to that extent, we are constantly looking for adverse effects that may be related to the safety of our products, and to date, that research has not found any evidence to support the view that there is any risk associated with the use of mobile phones or other radio products of this kind.

PAUL KENYON:

Since their breakthrough discoveries, the two pioneers of mobile phone research have found themselves out in the cold. Dr. Ross Adey has had no funding at all since his experiments, Dr. Henry Lai had to wait for five years for money to repeat his.

DR. HENRY LAI:

If the cellphone industry look at the whole thing in a different way, instead of counteracting what we discovered, I think by this time we should have known what kind of advice we can give to cellphone users on whether ... how long does it takes to have an effect and how long they can use a cell phone. But basically we wasted all this time and did not come up with anything.

PAUL KENYON:

Whilst the debate has continued here in America about the possible link between mobile phones and brain tumours, Panorama has uncovered some worrying new research which the manufacturers will find difficult to ignore. And it comes not from a multimillion dollar laboratory here in America, but from a small town in the west of Sweden. Here in Orebro, scientists have carried out a unique study: it was not based in a laboratory, but on the streets of Sweden, where one in three people use a mobile phone. It’s the first ever statistical research into a possible link between mobiles and brain tumours. The cancer specialist, Dr. Lennart Hardell, led the investigation. He went back in time to investigate the cellphone use of 200 brain tumour patients. The results surprised him. There was no increased risk of cancer overall, but when he focused on the part of the brain closest to the phone’s antenna, there was a correlation between phone use and cancer. For those using the phone on the right side of their head, the risk of a brain tumour in that area increased by two and a half times. For those using the phone on the left, there was a similar increase on that side of the head.

DR. LENNART HARDELL: Orebro Medical Centre

I was very surprised at the results because microwaves are not recognised as a human carcinogen.

 

PAUL KENYON:

How close is this to demonstrating that microwaves could cause cancer?

DR. LENNART HARDELL:

There is no statistical significance in our results; also one can say that the numbers are quite low, but there is a biological indication that there is a problem that should be studied much more and that’s because we find an increased risk in the area where the microwaves are absorbed in the brain.

PAUL KENYON:

Sweden largest Mobile phone manufacturer, Ericsson, has been keeping an eye on Dr. Hardell’s study. The company says it has a lot of respect for the scientist, but can’t share his conclusion because of the small numbers the study is based on.

BO ALBERTSON: Ericsson

Dr. Hardell is a respected medical doctor and also as a scientist as well.

 

PAUL KENYON:

In his recent studies, he says that an increased risk was found for both right- and left-sided brain tumours with exposures from mobile phones.

BO ALBERTSON:

Well, that’s not as I interpreted, really. If you go back to his publishing of the research, he says that he could find no effects between mobile phones and the occurrence of cancer. However, he had an increased risk factor in certain areas using certain standards.

DR. LENNART HARDELL:

I think this is an important indication and, as a manufacturer, I would be actually worried. I would ask for much more research and this should be obviously done very soon because so many people use the microwaves.

PAUL KENYON:

In the meantime, Dr. Hardell believes these results should make us change the way in which we use mobile phones. He is particularly concerned about children and mobiles because it’s thought their growing tissue is more sensitive to cancer risks.

DR. LENNART HARDELL:

I think that until we have the definite conclusion, the definite results of much longer studies, we need to minimise exposure to human beings.

PAUL KENYON:

And by minimising exposure, what do you mean?

DR. LENNART HARDELL:

We need to use mobile phones which give a low exposure to the brain. We need to be cautious about the use of phones in children or young adults.

PAUL KENYON:

Dr. Hardell’s advice is likely to be vigorously opposed by the manufacturers. But if consumers do decide to follow the advice and minimise their exposure to mobile phone radiation, how can they? If you are really determined to find out exactly how much radiation was coming out of your phone, do you think you could? Well, this is London’s Oxford Street, there are loads of mobile phone shops here. Somebody will be able to tell me, surely?

SALES ASSISTANT I:

Who has got the highest and lowest? I will never know that.

PAUL KENYON:

Is there any way we can find out?

SALES ASSISTANT :

There is no way of finding it out.

 

 

 

PAUL KENYON:

It looked like the answers weren’t going to be readily available.

SALES ASSISTANT II:

No, to be honest, I have no idea which phones have more or less.

PAUL KENYON:

Sometimes, the answer was just plain wrong.

SALES ASSISTANT III:

The radiation is coming from where the satellite is in position to your call, that’s where it comes from. I wouldn’t say there is much difference between the phones.

PAUL KENYON:

Some shops had their own ideas about why the manufacturers don’t publicise the figures.

SALES ASSISTANT IV:

That’s not something that they are going to promote, they want to sell their phones, So they are not going to say, well, this one’s got lower, this one’s got high because otherwise that’s counterproductive, isn’t it?

 

 

PAUL KENYON:

We asked the manufacturers for the radiation figures but they refused. So, we went to the Government’s radiation standards body, the NRPB.

 

When we asked the manufacturers, they all said there were no figures for radiation coming out of our phones, is that acceptable?

DR. JOHN STATHER: NRPB

I would think that if the public wants to know about how firms operate and what their potential exposures are, and that can be provided to them in a way that the public can understand, then I don’t see why they shouldn’t be provided with that sort of information.

PAUL KENYON:

And would you recommend the manufacturers do that?

DR. JOHN STATHER:

I certainly think the manufacturers should maybe talk to Government about the extent they should give information to members of the public about how phones operate.

 

 

PAUL KENYON:

The NRPB said to us they couldn’t understand why the manufacturers wouldn’t publish the radiation levels.

PETER HARRISON: Nokia

Well, there are many parameters that are involved in the design of a phone, hundreds of parameters that we could publish,

PAUL KENYON:

But the NRPB said specifically that they could not see a reason why you wouldn’t publish the radiation levels.

PETER HARRISON:

Well, to date, we haven’t seen the need to do that. We haven’t had a requirement to do that.

PAUL KENYON:

Haven’t had a requirement from whom?

PETER HARRISON:

From our customers. We haven’t heard that.

PAUL KENYON:

So, if people phone in and ask, you’re happy to publish?

PETER HARRISON:

I’m not saying that, no. I’m saying our phones are meeting the 'safety' recommendations.

PAUL KENYON:

So, we went to the Government’s National Physical Laboratory to test the amount of radiation entering the brain from a number of popular mobile phones. The measurement used is in watts per kilogramme - it’s called the SAR or specific absorption rate. The UK safety limit is 10 watts per kilogramme. Our results showed all seven phones fell well beneath it, but there was a huge difference between the lowest and the highest. The lowest was the Motorola Star Tac 70: with the antenna extended, it had an SAR of 0.02. The report pointed out that the two lowest emission phones, the Motorola V3688 and the Star Tac 70, have a design where the antenna is kept further away from the head. The two highest emission phones in the test were from Nokia. The new 5110 had an SAR of 0.37, and a popular older model, widely used but no longer on the market, the 2110, had a reading of 0.44, with its aerial extended. That is more than twenty times higher than the lowest phone in the test.

DR. ALAN PREECE: University of Bristol

Well, I was somewhat startled to see such a large difference between the highest levels and the lowest.

PAUL KENYON:

Why? Should we be worried about that?

DR. ALAN PREECE:

Well, it’s seems to me that if you want to reduce the exposure to the head or any part of the body, then it looks as though the design is somewhere in the manufacturers’ hands, that they have different designs which can bring about these different results. It will be better to use, in my feeling, those phones with the antennas sticking out away from the head.

PAUL KENYON:

But we can’t guarantee that the ones we tested that came out with higher levels of radiation, we can’t guarantee that even though they are below the national limit, they won’t have an effect on people.

DR. ALAN PREECE:

Well, no, they do have an effect, according to the test that we did.

PAUL KENYON:

We found that one of the Nokia models was at the higher end.

PETER HARRISON:

I think that the tests you showed me had a value of 0.4, I think, which is well inside the UK guideline of 10.

PAUL KENYON:

But it’s about 20 times higher than the lowest radiation model that we tested.

PETER HARRISON:

But as I said to you before, it doesn’t indicate that one phone is better or worse in terms of safety than the other. They all meet the same guideline.

PAUL KENYON:

For those who already have a mobile phone, there are products on the market which can cut radiation. The most successful in our test was the hands-free set with an earphone connected to the handset. The manufacturers say, it is not necessarily for ... [brief break in transmission]. In our test, a hands-free set cuts radiation to the head by 98%.

PAUL KENYON:

What would your advice be to users of mobiles?

DR. ALAN PREECE:

Keep the exposure as short as possible, use a hands-free device, but certainly, if you can keep the exposure from a phone to less than 10 minutes or so at a time, according to our tests, you are not likely to have any problem.

PAUL KENYON:

And now that advice to minimise our exposure has taken on a fresh urgency. There’s been an important new development in the mobile phone mystery.

PAUL KENYON:

Panorama has learnt that last Wednesday, representatives of the cellphone industry came here, for a special meeting at the headquarters of the Food and Drug Administration in Washington, It’s understood that they discussed not only the Swedish research, but also a new piece of unpublished American work which showed similar results.

PAUL KENYON:

The industry’s own research project, WTR, has done the work. Its boss, Dr. George Carlo, showed the data to Panorama. In one test on human blood, they discovered damage to chromosomes; in another, they found a correlation between the side of the head the phone was used and brain tumours, but only on the right side.

DR. GEORGE CARLO:

We have evidence of possible genetic damage in experiments using human blood, we have evidence of possible increase in tumour risk. The science that we have today clearly shows that this is not black and white, that we have moved now into a grey area. That suggests that there could be a problem that needs to be looked at very, very carefully.

PAUL KENYON:

Dr. Carlo says consumers must be alerted to this latest research, so they can make decisions about their phone use. The US Government also is taking it seriously, Panorama understands it’s now asking the industry for millions of dollars for more research. For the manufacturers, this is a watershed moment. There’s more research on the way from Europe and America but now there’s a difference between their position and the research body they fund.

PETER HARRISON:

There are studies showing a problem but there are hundreds of studies which have had negative results as well, and when we look at the science, we need to look at the totality of the science, and the science conducted over decades has shown that there is no conclusive health risk with mobile phones.

PAUL KENYON:

So, as far as you are concerned, there is no problem?

PETER HARRISON:

The scientific consensus is that there is no problem.

PAUL KENYON:

But when the manufacturers turn to us and say "there is no problem", is that right?

DR. GEORGE CARLO:

At this stage, that is not a responsible position to take. We clearly have results here that suggest that there could be something more here than meets the eye.

PAUL KENYON:

For those who believe they’ve suffered from the effects of mobile phones, there is a small consolation. The manufacturers may now have to accept that there could be a problem. The rest of us have a dilemma: how shall we use our mobiles while we wait for an answer to the mobile mystery?

 

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