Also adding fire to the debate are two articles published on Friday in The
Lancet journal presenting conflicting views on the public safety of mobile phones.
The articles, by Dr Kenneth Rothman, of Epidemiology Resources in Boston, and Gerard
Hyland, a theoretical biophysicist at the University of Warwick in England, look at the
issue from the viewpoints of epidemiology and mechanism, respectively.
In his Lancet article, Rothman found that driving while using mobile phones
was the greatest health risk posed by the technology. Heavy mobile users were involved
in twice as many fatal road accidents as light users, according to Rothman. The Stewart
Report did recommend that drivers should be "dissuaded" from using either handheld or
hands-free phones while driving.
Although both Lancet articles agree that there is no conclusive evidence
about the possible health risks posed by mobile phones, Hyland claims there is enough
evidence that "the low-intensity, pulsed radiation currently used [in mobile phones]
can exert subtle nonthermal influences," especially in the case of children, putting
them at increased risk of headaches, memory loss, and sleeping disorders.
Furthermore, Hyland criticizes the mobile telecommunications industry for hiding
behind the Stewart Report. "The Stewart Report, published in May 2000, makes some
sensible recommendations, but unfortunately some of its greyer areas are now being
exploited by the industry to obfuscate the issue," Hyland said in the article.
"The Stewart Report did state clearly that mobile phones were not proved to cause
adverse health effects," the FEI spokeswoman said. "When it comes to the leaflets, we
don't know that the Health Department has confirmed they will be available before
Christmas, but we agree that first of all the health and safety of children are a top
As for the study promised in May by the Department of Health, little progress has
been made on that front. "We said in May that we had commissioned a study. The group
that will take that study forward has not yet been established nor have we determined
how much it will cost," said the Department of Health spokeswoman.