UK Government Advice

On 1st December 2013 the UK Government published guidance on reducing exposure to radio waves from mobile phones.  Critically they quite rightly point out that mobile cell phones may not necessarily be safe because:

… uncertainties in the science suggest some additional level of precaution is warranted, particularly for sources such as mobile phones where simple measures can be taken to reduce exposure.

This is a key point.  Because there is a lack of evidence to prove that mobile cell phones are safe, this means that they may not be.

They go onto warn that children should be discouraged from excessive use of mobile cell phones and that adults should be able to make their own choices, but to be able to do this from ‘an informed position’.  Governmental bodies around the World are starting to wake up to this last fact, that consumers are not necessarily able to make decisions based on ‘an informed position’ as the information is not made readily available for them in a clear and easily understood way.   A recent example was the fierce opposition from the telecoms industry to Berkeley City Council when they tried to take steps to inform buyers of phones about the potential dangers of phones and the warnings that the manufacturers publish; albeit often in obscure places such as buried deep in the menus of iPhones.

It could also be argued that consumers are not using their phones from an informed position as some government agencies have taken it upon themselves to conceal the facts and their conclusions from users.  The ‘Phonegate’ scandal in France and the hidden report by the California Department of Public Health are but two, and both required legal action to force publication.

Given that the UK Government believes that ‘uncertainties in the science’ mean that users should be cautious about using their mobile cell phones it is quite correct to advise measures to reduce exposure, including:

  • Keeping phones away from the body
  • Using a handsfree kit

Note: The advice does not include what type of handsfree kit to use, which is probably wise given the probable hazards of Bluetooth and the findings of the UK Consumer Association that corded headsets can increase exposure to microwave by up to 300%.

One area that does need addressing in the UK Government’s advice is on the subject of laptops, as they observe that exposure is lower than from a phone as they are ‘held further away from the body'.  The very name ‘ laptop' implies that they are intended to be used in the lap, yet manufacturers clearly warn that they should be kept a minimum of 8 inches, or 20 cm, from the body.  This is certainly an area where the Government’s advice needs an urgent update.

Read the UK Government’s advice on reducing exposure to radio waves

The report refers to a document prepared by the National Radiological Protection Board in 2004 titled Advice on Limiting Exposure to Electromagnetic Fields (0-300GHz).  Our observations on this document can be found here and the full report is published here ...

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