What the phone companies don't want you to know!

Mobile Phone Radiation Dangers - Updates

* New Research on Tumour Link Prompts First Official Industry Admittance

* Two Minute Warning on Mobile Calls

* Insurers Balk at Mobile Risk

* Tests Confirm Hands Free Kits Not So Safe After All

* Spectacles on Mobile Users Increases Exposure

* Police Told to Limit Calls

* Scientists Asked by Cellular Industry to Change Research Findings!

* Mobiles Affect Immune System

* New Research on Tumour Link Prompts First Official Industry Admittance

A May’99 edition of the BBC’s Panorama programme, featured new research from Sweden by cancer specialist Dr Lennart Hardell, showing results of a study on brain tumours in mobile users, which revealed a correlation between the location of the tumour and the side of the head the victim held their mobile. Dr Hardell said “There is a biological indication there is a problem. Until we have the definitive results of much larger studies, we need to minimise exposure.”

The same programme included a preview of results from forthcoming research soon to be published in the USA showing chromosome damage to human cells caused by mobile radiation and also a separate study linking mobile use with a 300% increased incidence in a rare form of brain tumour. In announcing the research, Dr George Carlo from the American cellular industry sponsored research group WTR, confirmed that they had now entered a grey area and that it was no longer appropriate for the cellular industry to continue making unqualified statements as to the safety of their product.

* Poll Confirms User Health Fears

The results of a May ‘99 Mori poll have shown that 43% of regular mobile users are worried about health effects and the concern was so great, that 62% of them would buy a shielding product. This follows on from a 1998 cellular industry sponsored survey which revealed that almost one in five mobile owners had reduced their usage over health fears.

* Two Minute Warning on Mobile Calls

May’99 saw the release of the second part of Dr Mild’s cellular industry sponsored studies from Sweden which confirmed that mobile use was associated with symptoms ranging from headaches, fatigue, dizzy spells, memory loss, burning skin, and ear problems. Press reports on the studies show that

Over half of the 11,000 users surveyed, suffered unpleasant experiences and even those with less than 2 minutes usage a day complained of discomfort and side effects. Those using the phone for 30 minutes a day were twice as likely to complain of memory loss, than those using it for less than two minutes. Users making four or more calls a day were 3.6 times more likely to suffer headaches than those using it less than twice, as well as being 2.3 times more likely to report dizziness and 2.4 times as likely to have concentration lapses. Of most concern, was that young people appeared to be most at risk with the under-30s three to four times more likely to experience side effects.

May ‘98 had seen the first set of results released in the studies, sponsored by the Scandinavian cellular industry and the Swedish and Norwegian governments, which confirmed a significant correlation between the length and number of phone calls made by users and the incidence of symptoms such as headaches, burning sensations, fatigue, etc. Nearly 4000 out of 11000 returning questionnaires reported health problems. During John Simpson’s talk to the industry, he noted that “these Scandinavian victims, together with the users who had registered health problems with Microshield all had one thing in common, which was that their symptoms were totally ignored by regulatory bodies such as the NRPB, for the purposes of risk assessment and dismissed as anecdotal evidence.” Simpson added that it “wasn’t just the numbers, but the similarity of symptoms reported which made their evidence so compelling.”

* Insurers Balk at Mobile Risk

An April edition of the Observer reported a leading Lloyds underwriter as having refused to offer product liability cover to mobile manufacturers for damage to user’s health. The firm cited the striking resemblance between the development of the asbestos and tobacco health issues and the current mobile phone problem, both of which will end up costing insurers a fortune.

Recently the giant Insurance group Swiss Re stated in their publication Electro-Smog A Phantom Risk, that on the basis of today’s present knowledge alone it must be expected that a EMF claim would succeed. This view has been supported by the recent exit from the re-insurance market of Scandinavia’s biggest insurance group, Skandia. They cite reducing exposure (sic.) to potential EMF claims as being one of the reasons.

In this regard, corporate providers should guard against complacency in relying on present day government advice to protect themselves against any future potential liabilities. The experiences of the asbestos industry is a sobering reminder of this. Although a manufacturer will always be ultimately liable for it’s product, it is inconceivable that an employer insistent upon it’s work force using mobiles, would be totally exempt from involvement in any actions for damages by employees.

* Spectacles on Mobile Users Increases Exposure

May’99 saw results of tests from the National Physical Laboratory using a seven material phantom human head, showing that mobile users who wear glasses, could be intensifying exposure to their eyes by up to 20% and into the head by 6.3%. According to the UK’s Sunday Mirror, around 60% of people in the UK wear glasses. This phenomena is thought to be caused by the metal rims and is connected with research results announced by scientist Dr C K Chou at a mobile phone health conference in 1997, which showed that the presence of a metal object in the near field of a mobile, could increase specific absorption rate readings by a factor of up to 50. Microshield have had numerous reports from users of eye problems. Obviously the glasses in question would have been a few centimetres away from the user’s eyes, but it would be interesting to have the experiments repeated taking measurements from amalgam dental fillings which are actually in the body. Many mobile users report burning sensations and toothache in teeth with fillings and also an unpleasant metallic taste in their mouth. There have also been anecdotal reports from UK National Health staff of a marked increase in the incidence of jaw cancer, which won’t show up in official statistics for several years yet.

* Tests Confirm Other Shields as Worthless

The same NPL tests looking at the effects on wearers of glasses also included results on seven different shielding products, showing only the Microshield as offering any significant reduction in absorption by the head, with five of the products registering no reduction at all. The Microshield was shown to be absorbing 90% of the radiation which would otherwise have gone straight into the user’s head. Readers of this site will be familiar with Microshield’s views on these copy products which have flowed onto the market in the past 18 months or so, giving users a false sense of security which might actually lead them to increasing their mobile usage under the misapprehension that they were now “safe”. Microshield General Manager John Simpson said “ We’ve been telling people for ages that these products don’t reduce exposure, but obviously many take our advise with a pinch of salt on the basis that we would say that wouldn’t we ? We’re just pleased that finally our observations have been confirmed by such a highly regarded organisation as the NPL.” Test Results

* Police Told to Limit Calls

London’s Metropolitan Police were reported in an early June ‘99 edition of the Daily Mail, to be seriously looking at providing radiation protection for all staff who use mobiles, following disturbing evidence linking mobile phones with cancerous brain tumours. In the meantime, officers in Britain’s biggest police force have been advised to restrict all calls to less than 5 minutes.

* Government Defence Agency Say Mobiles are Safe -Then buy Microshields for Staff

The Sunday Telegraph 30th May ‘99, reported the UK’s Government Defence Evaluation Agency, DERA, as having purchased Microshield cases for its staff several weeks after announcing research from Porton Down which had shown an effect on short term memory and spatial awareness in rats, but had down played their significance by stating that health implications for humans were unclear.

* Michael Repacholi Castigates New Scientist Stance

Dr Michael Repacholi, currently working on the WHO EMR research programme which includes mobile phones, had a letter published in the New Scientist in June ‘99 in response to their aforementioned original article, complaining that the author had misled readers into thinking that the mobile phone health issue was just a storm in a teacup and that it wouldn’t be long until it blew over. On the contrary, Dr Repacholi said there was a lot of quality research suggesting exactly the opposite and a lot more was needed before any conclusions could be drawn one way or the other.

* Tests Confirm Hands Free Kits Not So Safe After All

Sales of hands free kits are said to have increased fourfold recently, due to fears over health and the perception (perpetuated by mobile dealers) that such devices reduce the risks. The NPL tests carried out for BBC’s Healthcheck and also the New Scientist, confirmed that these kits, which are issued by many employers to staff, are not totally reducing exposure to the head as many users think and that up to 30% is leaking out of the earpiece itself, thereby concentrating exposure into the ear canal. This would explain why many users who experience ear problems, report a worsening of their condition when they use these devices.

Far more importantly though, unless the phone is placed some distance away from the user, the remaining radiation still coming off the handset, is merely being redirected to another part of the body e.g. organs around the waist area, which ironically may not be as able to defend itself as well as the brain, which is of course given some protection by the skull.

More recent tests by Microwave Consultants Ltd (MCL), manufacturers of phantom heads and bodies for the cellular industry, have just revealed that the absorption which hands free users subject their body to, is significantly higher than that to the head when used without a hands free kit. The results are due to be published soon.

Some have commented that at least the exposure is being taken away from the head (apart from the leakage to the ear) and that this must reduce the risk of brain tumours. The main concerns by users may indeed be of brain tumours, but scientist’s concerns are not specifically about brain tumours per se, but rather the biological effects at cellular levels which cause tumours in general i.e. wherever the phone is held.

In normal usage of course the concerns would centre around the head, because that’s where the phone is held, but if changes in usage determined that other areas were being exposed, then concerns about tumours would shift accordingly to the new area of exposure.

For some time there have been reports from users complaining that their phone has left a mark on the skin, in the form of a red, inflamed, raised area of flesh which hardens over a period of time and which is exactly the same size and shape as the mobile itself, including the antenna. These reports are from users who keep their phone held against or near to their bodies for long periods of time e.g. attached to their belt or under their armpit in holster type arrangements. At present though, these users are actually only subjecting themselves to relatively low levels of exposure, as the mobile operates at considerably reduced power levels for most of the time when in standby mode and they hold the handset against the head to make a call. When used in conjunction with a hands free kit however, they will keep the phone in that area when the phone is in talk mode and consequently operating at dramatically higher power levels. Thus overall cumulative exposure will increase quite dramatically. Microshield has details of one user who has developed a tumour on his spine exactly where he used to keep his phone and is considering legal action. In South Africa we are receiving anecdotal reports of an increase in a rare form of hip cancer.

By letting users continue to believe that hands free kits make mobile use “safer”, the cellular industry is in the enviable position of being able to placate user’s concerns, without having to change their stance that mobiles do not represent a health risk. Pushing the sale of health shields however, which after all have only one use, would be a different proposition and might therefore compromise their stance that mobiles are safe. Whilst this strategy may help the cellular industry cover their position, Microshield believes it morally wrong, as some users may now even have increased usage as a result of their new found confidence in the safety of the product.

* Mobiles Affect Immune System

UK scientist Roger Coghill presented what he describes as robust evidence at this year's Monteux Conference on Stress in March, confirming that weak RF/MW radiation similar to that emitted by mobile phones, is damaging human peripheral lymphocyte viability. This in effect means that the body's immune system is being damaged. Replication of the studies are currently believed to be underway at the world famous Karolinska Institute in Sweden, under the supervision of Olle Johansson.

* Scientists Asked by Cellular Industry to Change Research Findings

December 20th’s Sunday Times made further damning accusations of cover up by the cellular industry, when it ran a major article featuring claims by Dr Henry Lai that research he had conducted under contract for the industry, had been returned to him twice for alteration of the data. The article quoted Dr Lai as saying “Our work has shown that there is an increase of 50% in damage to DNA when it is exposed to mobile phone radiation, but they are asking me to change my whole interpretation of the findings in a way which would make them more favourable to the mobile phone industry. This is what happened in the tobacco industry . They had the data in their hands but when it was not favourable, they did not want to disclose it.”

Two previous studies by Dr Lai and his University of Washington colleague Dr Singh, have already been published showing both single and double DNA strand breakage’s in rat’s brain cells. DNA breakage’s have been associated with slow onset diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and cancer.

* Mobile Manufacturer Not Happy With Research Findings

The same Sunday Times article also saw highly respected researcher Dr Ross Adey claim that Motorola had not been happy with studies carried out by him under contract which showed non thermal effects being caused by mobile phone radiation. Dr Adey said “Motorola were not happy that there were any health effects (thermal or non thermal), their line is that there are no health effects.” Currently all international recommended limits for mobile emmissions are set on the assumption that the only damage that could be caused, is from the well known heating effects of microwaves. Research is now starting to show effects at levels way below the thermal thresholds.

* Mobile Phone Company Issues Microshields to Staff

A major UK Daily reported in late December the first mobile phone company anywhere in the world to offer it’s staff radiation protection shields for use with their mobiles. Large numbers of staff at South Africa’s Transtel asked for Microshield cases after executives carried out a survey of 6000 staff to find out if they had suffered symptoms linked to the use of their mobile. Chief Operating Officer Nisha Jones said “ I don’t want people coming up to me in two or three years saying I knew about the risks and did nothing about it. The scientific evidence available so far isn’t conclusive, but while there are concerns about exposure to radiation, we should take precautionary measures.”

* Scientists Say Mobile Effects Are Proven

A symposium in Vienna attended by many of the world's foremost independent scientists looking into the mobile phone health debate, signed a resolution in January 1999 to the effect that biological effects caused by low level exposures to radiowave/microwave EMR, particularly those emittted by mobile phones and their base transmitting stations were now, contrary to the views expressed by government protection bodies such as the UK's NRPB, scientifically established, The group, which included the likes of Carl Blackman of the USA's Environmental Protection Agency, voted overwhelmingly in favour of the resolution.

* Mobile Manufacturers Already Have Their Own Shields Waiting in Wings

Late ‘98 saw a flurry of activity in the UK quality press which included revelations surrounding the discovery of at least six patent applications filed by leading mobile phone manufacturers, for devices which were clearly aimed at reducing health risks. Leading lawyers were quoted as saying that such discoveries could act against manufacturers in any court case.

Coverage also included litigation plans by a British mobile user who was taking the cellular industry to court in South Africa after developing a malignant tumour.

At least three major UK newspapers have now launched campaigns for the government to carry out more research and called for all handsets to be provided with free shields.

* Research Round Up From ‘98

Yet more research was published last year showing mobile phone radiation exposure linked with possible dangers to pregnant woman and their unborn babies and two studies actually sponsored by the cellular industry showing increased blood pressure in human volunteers caused by constricting arteries (published in the Lancet), and yet more studies showing DNA damage in human cells. October ‘98 revealed research showing higher mortality rates of white human blood cells exposed to mobiles, indicating damage to the immune system.

* British Defence Scientists Link Mobiles With Memory Loss

Early summer ‘98 had already seen a UK Government Department of Health sponsored study confirming what had already been shown in American research, which is that mobile phone radiation exposure is implicated with short term memory loss and sudden confusion. Studies on rats brain cells were carried out by scientists at the Defence Evaluation Research Agency, DERA. The Director of research conducting the experiments pre-empted the normal cellular industry defence that “men aren’t rodents”, by saying that “Usually what damages a rat’s brain can damage a human brain”. Microshield Ind. Plc have received a stream of reports from users complaining of suffering from short term memory loss.



In what ways can mobile phones affect your health? - Common Symptoms

Can mobile phones cause serious health risks?

But don't mobile phones comply with current safety standards?

What do risk experts, such as insurance companies, think about mobile phone dangers?

How much of a risk am I taking when I use my mobile phone?

What are the conclusions of all this research?

What can I do to protect myself?

What phone radiation shielding products are available?

Where can I find further information on this subject?


Mobile Phones & Your Health

Results of recent research in Australia, Europe and the USA, together with reports by the European Commission that mobile phones may not be as safe as first thought, has led to major concerns being expressed about the health effects associated with their usage.

In what ways can mobile phones affect your health?

The most frequently reported symptoms made by users to both their doctors and also to phone manufacturers, is the occurrence of unexplained headaches, ear and eye sight problems, feelings of nausea or dizziness, a tingling sensation on the skin and a numbness or redness to the face and neck. A leading Swedish scientist, Professor Mild who is on the European Commission panel of experts investigating mobile phones, confirms frequent reports of such conditions, as does Dr Bruce Hocking, former Chief Medical Officer for Telstra. On May 7 1997, Dr Hocking presented the results of a study of neurological symptoms in mobile phone users. When asked about this study on the "7.30 Report" of May 7, Dr Hocking replied: "Yes, these are studies I've been doing on people who use mobile phones and who develop symptoms when using the phones. This arose from some other observations I've made when working for Telstra that staff and customers were developing symptoms. I've now followed up with a detailed survey of over 40 people around Australia who have developed symptoms. They complained mainly that they developed a burning dull feeling on the side of the head where they have been using their mobile phone. It tends to come on several minutes after they made their call and may last for hours. Associated with this they may get feelings of nausea, disturbances in their vision and at times other neurological symptoms." When asked by the "7.30 Report" presenter: "With all due respect to these people, how do you know that they are not just psychosomatic symptoms?" Dr Hocking replied: "Yes, this question has been asked by quite a few people.

1. First of all there is the consistency of symptoms. People from all over Australia with no connections, produce a rather similar story.

2. Secondly, there are now reports coming from overseas, Scandinavia, Great Britain and America of people getting similar kinds of symptoms.

3.Thirdly, there is a statement from the Department of Communications recently out about the development of "hot spots" in the brain. This means a concentration of energy which would give a possible explanation for these symptoms.

4. Fourthly, and most interestingly, these symptoms were in fact observed over 30 years ago in a laboratory set up." The UK's National Radiological Protection Board (NRPB) confirms significant absorption of microwave energy in the eyes and their sockets, brain, nose, tongue and surrounding muscles. A senior adviser to the NRPB has been reported in the British press as saying: "It is not unreasonable to suggest that this might cause some damage." The worry is that these overt symptoms may be the precursors to more serious problems and not all users are getting these early warning signals.

Is the problem more serious?

Research funded by the New York Heart Research Foundation as early as 1992, showed that microwave radiation from a relatively low powered analogue mobile phone, caused chemical changes in the brain similar to those present in cancerous and precancerous situations, which were still measurable more than 7 days after just one 3 minute phone call. Research published in 1996 by doctors Lai and Singh of Washington State University, Seattle, demonstrates that exposure to extremely low level microwave radiation causes single and double strand breakages in DNA brain cells of rats. An accumulation of DNA breakages is known to be associated with the slow onset of diseases such as cancers, Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and Huntington's. The frequencies used in their experiments are known to be less penetrative than those emitted by mobile phones and the power levels were substantially lower. Adding to growing evidence that electromagnetic fields may be linked to Alzheimer's disease, a 1996 US study by Dr Eugene Sobel, published in the journal Neurology, found that people who are exposed to high electromagnetic field (EMF) levels on the job have, on average, three to five times the normal risk of contracting the disease. These results follow on the heels of a September report from the US Centre for Diseases Control and Prevention indicating that a broad variety of neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimers, are more common among workers exposed to EMF on the job. About 50 studies have now reported statistically significant increased risks for several types of cancer in occupational groups with elevated exposure to electromagetic radiation. In microwave and radar personnel they have noted sharp increases in lymphomas, melanomas, leukemias, and brain tumours, high blood pressure, headaches, memory loss and brain damage. Immune system abnormalities were also noted: first an over stimulation, then later immune suppression after continued exposure to low levels of microwave radiation. A recent Australian study, funded by Telstra, conducted at the Royal Adelaide Hospital by Dr Michael Repacholi, Professor Tony Basten, Dr Alan Harris and statistician Val Gebski, revealed a highly significant doubling of cancer rates in a group of mice exposed to electromagnetic radiation equivalent to spending two half-hour periods each day on a digital mobile phone. How is microwave radiation absorbed by the body? EMR (electromagnetic radiation) is a form of energy which is emitted by amongst other things, electrical appliances. EMR in the form of microwave radiation is given off by a mobile phone through the keypad, screen, ear-piece and aerial when the phone is switched on, and particularly when in conversation. Unlike an ordinary phone, a mobile phone's power unit and transmitter is located in the handset. Research by the UK's National Radiological Protection Board has shown that microwaves penetrate through the skull and into the brain. In addition, the ear, the eye and its socket, the nose and other surrounding tissue, also show significant absorption. Radiation levels are always at their strongest closest to the EMR source. With a mobile phone in operation, the concern is that the user could hardly get any closer to the handset. "You would not put your head into a microwave oven, but people are quite happy to hold a mobile phone next to their head" Senior Physician, Danish Board of Health European Health and Safety Journal 1995

But don't mobile phones comply with current safety standards?

Manufacturers claim that their phones are safe because they comply with current safety standards. However the validity of these standards are now being challenged both within the scientific community and, increasingly, in the courts. The current safety standards are being questioned because:
1.Firstly, the standards are based solely on heating (thermal) effects of human tissue. This suggests that unless you are being cooked, you need not worry. However, the European Commission Public Health Directorate confirms that microwave radiation from cellular phones induces heating in tissues and organs and that temperature rises of only 1 degree Celsius can produce a variety of health effects which become more severe with higher temperature rises. (Tests carried out in Australian cellular industry laboratories have shown temperature increases of over 4 degrees Celsius) When asked in 1995 if it was still advisable to base standards solely on thermal effects, the chairman of the USA's National Council for Radiation Protection and Measurement Committee replied: "...the laboratory evidence for non-thermal effects of both ELF and RF/microwave fields now constitutes a major body of scientific literature in peer reviewed journals. It is my personal view that to continue to ignore this work in the course of standards setting is irresponsible to the point of being a scandal." Of note, two military research bases in the USA reduced their permitted levels of radio frequency exposure significantly (from 100W/m2 down to 1W/m2). This is because they acknowledged that there is now an overwhelming body of published evidence of the positive existence of non-thermal biological effects of high-frequency radiation.
2.Secondly, because the current safety standards are set on the assumption that microwaves are distributed evenly throughout the head. However, evidence is emerging that "hot spots" may be formed within the brain which could cause more damage than previously assumed. It has been shown that digital mobile phones can deliver well over the safety levels into head tissue in their output pulses, but they are said to comply because over each second the average power is only one-eighth of the pulse power. To give a clearer analogy, this is like the health department saying that it is safe to drink 14 standard drinks at one time because this averages out to only 2 standard drinks per day over a week. Unlike the earlier analogue mobile phones, the newer digital ones emit a series of radio frequency pulses. This has been shown to be more biologically active than a continuous radiation of the same frequency and power level. These pulses are picked up and detected by the cells inside the user's and other nearby people's heads. This means that the brain cells are being "hit" by these radiation pulses, and this is what is now raising concern amongst researchers. To use another analogy, while a constant light does not harm anyone, if it is switched on and off like a strobe, serious neurological symptoms can be triggered. It is also important to consider exactly who is setting these safety standards. In Australia, the Standards Committee consists of 12 representatives, of which nine are users or sellers of the technology. Thus it could be said that there is a conflict of interest for those who set the standards. When Dr Bruce Hocking, former Medical Officer for Telecom, was asked on the "7.30 Report" about the governments policy management on this issue, he replied: "First of all, I think it's a mistake to put the major responsibility for this issue into the Department of Communication and the Arts. They have a potential conflict of interest. They are a major revenue raiser for the government, from license fees as well as the proposed sales of Telstra and of future frequencies for mobile phones. They would not be wanting to create too much concern that some of these products may be unhealthy to the public, as that would impact on their revenues, and yet they are responsible for the dissemination of information regarding this. I think it would be fairer to the government and the public alike if the responsibility for all health public issues were moved firmly into the Department of Health Branch area and administered out of there." It appears that a "conflict of interest" situation also exists in the USA. The Wireless Technology Research (WTR) group, which is funded by the mobile phone industry has become embroiled in a number of scandals. The WTR was promoted to the public and to the US government as being an "independent" and "arms-length" body controlling $25 million in research funding. Recent leaked documents show that it has been under the direct control of the industry association, and it has long operated as a PR front. In the last four years it has spent $17 million "without wetting a test-tube" according to Microwave News editor, Louis Slessin. The WTR scientists recently went on strike for nearly a year, refusing to perform their contracted research until adequately covered for indemnity against law suits, by the mobile phone industry association. The US scientists' sensitivity to this issue follows the filing of 38 cases which are now before the courts over past tobacco-safety studies. Both the tobacco company lawyers and the scientists they funded have been charged as co-conspiritors with the Tobacco Institute and the cigarette companies in suppressing evidence and manipulating research results. If manufacturers genuinely believe that their mobile phones are completely safe then why: Do many of them suggest in their handbook that users may wish to reduce their exposure by spending less time on the phone? Why would three manufacturers have lodged their own patents to reduce radiation emissions which in the word of the patent abstracts are to "prevent the health of the user from being damaged"? Why has one manufacturer just launched a new low radiation mobile phone? Why are many manufacturers developing antenna which point away from the head? Why is the mobile phone industry spending millions of dollars on medical research looking for evidence of a problem which they categorically assure people doesn't exist and why have they refused funding to independent scientists whose research looks as if it might reveal damning conclusions? The answer to many of these questions probably lies in current litigation claims being filed against mobile phone manufacturers, marketers and service providers. While there may be no "conclusive scientific data" to prove that mobile phones are a health risk, it seems there are increasing numbers of people challenging in the courts the current ideology that mobile phones are safe. Kane v. Motorola In this case, Robert Kane, an engineer for Motorola, alleges that he developed a brain tumour from exposure to radio frequency EMF which resulted from his testing of an experimental mobile phone antenna. Also named as defendants are Kane's manager, the principal designer of the antenna, and Motorola's chief research scientist for mobile telephones and antennas. Rittman v. Motorola In August 1995, attorneys for the estate of Dean Vincent Rittman and family who survived him filed a lawsuit against several mobile telephone manufacturers and marketers and two cellular service providers, alleging that Mr Rittman's fatal brain tumour was caused by his use of mobile telephones. This case was filed in Tarrant County, Texas. Listed as defendants are Motorola, Inc; NEC USA, Inc; NEC America, Inc; General Electric Company; Ericsson, Inc; GTE Corporation; GTE Mobilnet, Inc; GTE Mobilnet Service Corporation; GTE Mobilnet of Houston, Inc; SBC Communications, Inc; Southwestern Bell Mobile Systems, Inc; Discount Communications, Inc; and Parkinson Electrical Company. The complaint contains claims for negligence, strict liability, breach of express and implied warranty, civil battery and violations of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practises Act (DTPA). Also, a leading research laboratory in the UK has formally advised Motorola's German headquarters that it intends to file an action against Motorola for failure to comply with certain sections of the Consumer Protection Act 1987. The impending action alleges that Motorola has failed to affix warning labels to its mobile phone handsets advising consumers that prolonged usage may give rise to adverse health risks. The Consumer Protection Act 1987 is derived from a European Directive imposing, a duty on producers and distributors to ensure that products made available to the public are safe, or and that warning labels are affixed where there is any doubt.

So what do insurance companies think about all this litigation?

A giant Swiss Insurance company, Swiss Re, has raised serious concerns for the insurance industry as to future liability for claims against health damage caused by electromagnetic emissions including mobile phones Up to now, the prevailing legal opinion is that industries can only be liable if science provides conclusive proof that weak electromagnetic fields impair health. The question on whether or not EMF's are a real hazard is no longer an issue when it comes to possible future litigation pay outs for insurance companies. The EMF problem is more dangerous and more threatening for the insurance industry than has generally been supposed. Swiss Re's report comes to the conclusion that on the basis of present knowledge alone, it must be expected that the plaintiffs will win suits dealing with this issue. There is obviously the risk that new research findings will demonstrate electromagnetic fields to be more dangerous than has been assumed. This follows a recent incident by Australia's leading insurance company, Mercantile Mutual, who objected plans by Vodaphone to build a transmitting tower on its Sydney office block. In its formal objection it said: "there is an increasing body of scientific and medical evidence of the risk to health posed by exposure to emissions from telecommunication base stations. The risk to health may expose us as owners of the property to liability for injury to persons who are even alleged to have been exposed to emissions from the base station. UPDATE: Click here for current update on insurers

Is it worth taking the risk?

Mobile phone companies will assure you that their products are safe because:

Claim 1# Mobile phones comply with current safety standards However, as mentioned previously, the methodology of the safety standards are being called into question by leading researchers, as is the motivation of those setting the standards.

Claim 2# There is no evidence of a link between mobile phones and ill-health. The recent Telstra funded Royal Adelaide Hospital mice study, which found over a two fold increase in cancer in the mice exposed to a digital phone frequency, was called into question by its own researchers who stated: "mice and humans absorb energy from these fields differently, so we cannot conclude from this single study that humans have an increased risk of cancer from the use of digital mobile phones." It would seem to be a rather futile exercise then to conduct research on mice and then when damning results occur, call the whole study into question because it was based on mice!!! Essentially, what they are saying is that the only conclusive research will be when humans exposed to mobile phone radiation show a two fold increase in cancer. Dr Neil Cherry, a scientist from Lincoln University, New Zealand states: " Despite the impression that mobile-phone companies give in their literature, very little work has been done on the long term implications of mobile-phone use. In fact this type of research is really only starting to happen now. This means that current mobile phone users are acting as involuntary, and often unsuspecting, test subjects. Past research into microwave radiation effects certainly gives rise for concern. If you are completely healthy, and have a strong immune system, then mobile-phone use may well not give you long-term health problems. Some people can smoke twenty cigarettes per day for fifty years and not develop lung cancer, and yet the dangers of smoking are now generally accepted. Most of us regularly develop cancerous cells in our bodies. Normally the deranged cells are destroyed by our immune system. However, it has been repeatedly shown that a few minutes of exposure to cell-phone type radiation can transform a five percent active cancer into a ninety-five percent active cancer. Most of us remember the Thalidomide tragedy - the result of a product being used widely before adequate long term research had been carried out. The result has been such a misery for the families involved, and long drawn out and expensive lawsuits. Another example is asbestos which has been strictly controlled since 1970, and the most dangerous types banned. Despite this, deaths from mesothelioma (an asbestos induced cancer of the pleura/lungs) are rising consistently and the UK death rate is not expected to peak until about 2020. The time between the first exposure and death is now accepted as often being between 20 and 50 years. Most environmental cancers in adults take longer than ten years from initiation to when they are detected."

Other considered conclusions:

"I am now convinced that EMF's pose a health hazard. There is a statistical association between magnetic fields and cancer that goes beyond the shadow of reasonable doubt. I think there is clear evidence that exposure to EMF's increases the risk for cancer. This is most clear with leukemia and brain tumours, but in the residential studies, statistical significance increased for all kinds of cancer. And we're just beginning to have a whole body of evidence that reproductive cancers are increased by exposure." Dr David Carpenter, Dean of the State of New York School of Public Health

" In all my years of looking at chemicals, I have never seen a set of epidemiological studies that remotely approached the weight of evidence that we're seeing with ELF (extremely low frequency) electromagnetic fields. Clearly something is happening here." Martin Halper, Environmental Protection Agency (US) Director of Analysis and Support

"Based on the data base we have right now, I think the probability of hazards to human health from exposure to EMF's is high. It has been pretty well accepted by most scientists now...The issue is not whether there is biological effects or possible harm, but at what level and what duration of exposure - that question we have not answered." Dick Phillips, Director of Experimental Biology Division, Environmental Protection Agency (US)

"We will proceed on the assumption that there is a connection between exposure to lower frequency magnetic fields and cancer, in particular childhood cancer." Swedish National Board of Industrial and Technical Development.

"...Sweden has concluded that EMF's do lead to higher rates of cancer...I, frankly was somewhat impressed by the arguments made by the Swedes." President Bill Clinton

So what can I do to protect myself?

The Australian Consumers Association (ACA), has advised users to minimise their exposures to the electro-magnetic radiation emitted by mobile phones. "While there is no scientific proof that phone radiation can be harmful, neither is there proof that it is safe" said Steve Horracks, from ACA. "If it turns out that there is a problem with electro-magnetic emissions at mobile frequency ranges, then using a device that operated so close to your head is an obvious reason for concern." "It would seem reasonable to take a few precautions until more is known about the potential risk. Mobile users should consider their usage patterns and habits to see what they can do to reduce their exposure. There are a number of practical things that mobile phone users can do if they are concerned about the potential health risk." The Australian Consumer's Association suggests:
don't use your mobile phone when a normal phone is handy; always extend the antenna consider using an after market hands-free kit consider installing a car kit if you have a digital phone try and use it in open space as much as possible so that the phone can transmit at a lower power level limit the number and duration of calls (Choice Magazine, May 9,1997) Similar recommendations have been made by Dr Peter French, Principle Scientific Officer of the Centre for Immunology at Sydney's St Vincent's Hospital. "Until there is more conclusive evidence about possible health risks, we should be cautious about mobile phones" he said. "If you're experiencing symptoms that may be mobile-related (such as headaches or blurred vision), see your doctor. If you want to reduce your exposure to the electromagnetic radiation coming from your phone, try these practical steps:" Cut down on the number of calls you make keep the phone calls brief make use of pagers and message banks, and use an ordinary phone to return calls try using devices that increase the distance between your head and the phone. *A hands free kit (including one for the car with an outside antenna) is a good idea, as is a cover that shields you from the radiation carry the phone in your handbag, not in your pocket and if you have children, you should limit the number of mobile calls they make. *(UPDATE:* Tests Confirm Hands Free Kits Not So Safe After All)
What if I can't limit the number of calls I make or the length of my calls, because I use my mobile phone for work?
There are a few products available to reduce the amount of radiation recieved from mobile phones. As mentioned above, there are the hands free devices which are readily available from most telecommunication outlets.UPDATE:* Tests Confirm Hands Free Kits Not So Safe After All.(Click here for more info) With regard to shielding products, there are some products available which substantially reduce the amount of radiation absorbed by the mobile phone user. For more information on shielding products click here.

For more information on mobile phones and electro-magnetic radiation: INTERNET:
The Electromagnetic Health Threat
Cellphones and Health
Microwave News
FEB - The Swedish Association for the ElectroSensitive
Cellular Towers, EMR, and Health Effects

H.Lai, NP Singh 1996, Single and double-strand DNA breaks in rat brain cells after acute exposure to radio frequency electromagnetic radiation International Journal of Radiation Biology,Vol 69, No4, 513-521
Anne Davies, Fear of Frying Sydney Morning Herald, Saturday 3 May, 1997
Stewart Fist, Cancer scare story you didn't hear, The Australian 6 May,1997 & More than a tale of Mice and Men, The Australian, Tuesday 13 May,1997

SAFE AS HOUSES by David Cowan & Rodney Girdlestone
CROSS CURRENTS by Dr Robert O Becker

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