Redactie Mymobichip, 16 maart 2012.

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The Welsh Government has been accused by 20 scientists of giving children inaccurate information about using mobile phones.

According to the scientists, an official information leaflet adopts an inappropriate tone and plays down the potential health threats posed to youngsters by mobile phone use.

Last night, however, the Welsh Government said it stood by its advice, which was based on peer-reviewed scientific literature.

A leaflet distributed in primary schools for children aged seven to 11 also appears in the Welsh Government’s website. Headed “Mobile Phones and Your Health”, it starts: “Mobile phones are great for keeping in touch with friends and family, and millions of people all over the world use them everyday (sic). At the moment it seems that using a mobile phone won’t cause health problems.”

It goes on to say: “Even so, we don’t know for definite that problems will not be found in the future, so we suggest that you follow some easy steps now to keep yourself safe.”

A cartoon shows a boy asking his father whether he should use a mobile phone, and getting the answer: “Most phones don’t seem to cause health problems. But it’s a good idea to keep calls short just in case we find health problems in the future.”

Later in the leaflet a series of bullet point “top tips” include:

  • Send text messages instead of making calls;
  • Keep your mobile phone calls short;
  • Use a hands-free kit; and
  • Use the speaker phone feature.

Health campaigner Judith Davies, who lives near Llandovery, Carmarthenshire, has been in contact with 20 international scientists who have written critical comments about the leaflet for primary school children and another for older pupils.

Greek cell biology experts Dr Adamantia Fragopoulou and Professor Lukas Margaritis said the suggestion in the leaflet that there was no positive evidence that exposure to mobile phones caused health problems: “This is totally wrong based on epidemiological and clinical data, both based on humans, not to mention the numerous lab animal experiments. Every answer given within the Welsh leaflet is scientifically wrong.”

Dr Olle Johansson, Associate Professor at the Department of Neuroscience in the Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, said: “The type of radiation emitted by these gadgets has been linked to cancer, neurological diseases, impairments to immune function and neurological function... We also know that this kind of radiation impacts DNA, leading to possible mutations and cancer development, as well as affecting fertility and reproduction, causing a dramatic decline in sperm count.”

Dr Gerd Oberfeld, public health officer in Salzburg, said: “There is strong evidence for an increased risk of brain tumours after at least 10 years use [of mobile phones].”

Ms Davies has been supported by her MP Jonathan Edwards, who said: “The Welsh Government should be pursuing a precautionary principle which is based on facts.

“The current position of the Welsh Government smacks of the same failed public health approach to smoking – that while there’s no current evidence of harmful effects, there is nothing wrong with it.

“In my view, unless it can be scientifically proven, it is irresponsible for the Welsh Government to issue guidance to children and parents stating there are no dangers in the use of mobile phones.”

A Welsh Government spokesman said: “Our advice in the mobile phone leaflets for children is based on an evaluation of the available evidence by experts at the Health Protection Agency (HPA) and peer-reviewed scientific literature. We stand by our advice and information in the leaflets which were endorsed by the HPA.

“While current research indicates that using mobile phones do not currently appear to cause health problems, we recognise more work still needs to be done. Therefore we have said as a precaution parents make sure their children take some simple steps to protect their health for the future, including keeping conversations short, using texts instead, and using the speaker facility rather than the phone, where possible.

“The leaflets also include the precautionary advice of the UK Chief Medical Officers, but we must be realistic and recognise that a large proportion of children now regularly use mobile phones.”



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