1
Okt
2004

Children's use of Mobile Phones needed urgent Attention

During most of September I was overseas attending two international conferences and several other meetings in the UK and Russia. If time permits I hope to be reporting on these conferences but my University studies will need to take "centre stage" with my time from now on. This information list will continue however, but perhaps with a lower volume of traffic!

The two conferences and some points of interest to me were:

1) "Children with Leukaemia, Scientific Conference-Incidence, causal mechanisms and prevention" Church House, Westminister, London, 6-10 Sept.

In his keynote address to the conference Sir William Stewart, chair of the IEGMP mobile phone report (2000) hit out at the mobile phone lobby for their (mis) reporting of his group's recommendations, with statements such as: "the Stewart report says there are no adverse health effect for mobile phones". He said there are biological effects below the current exposure guidelines, and people can vary in their susceptibility. He had warned that children may be more susceptible, and should limit their use of mobile phones - a recommendation that the UK government did not take up, possibly because of the $ billions the govt. is getting from the industry.

In his speech, Sir William also said, "Don't ignore non-peer reviewed findings." These have to be carefully independently confirmed, and have to be put to the public "simply and clearly". Not only the results reporting impacts of mobile phones on health need to be independently confirmed, but also negative findings of no impacts. At the moment, there is a bias towards accepting negative findings without question.

Now that Stewart is the new head of the NRPB perhaps we will see some positive changes there.

The poster papers (many dealing with EMF) that were presented at the, "Children with Leukaemia Scientific Conference, 6-10 September 2004, incidence, causal mechanisms and prevention" are now available for downloading on the web site.

First see the home page:
http://www.leukaemiaconference.org/main.asp

The Poster Papers are available at:
http://www.leukaemiaconference.org/programme/poster_list.asp

2) International conference: Mobile Communication and Health: medical, biological and social problems, Moscow, Sept 20-23.

One of the highlights of the this conference was the insistence of the Russian scientists, especially Yuri Grigoriev from the RNCNIRP and the Russian Academy of Science) that the issue of children's use of mobile phones was an urgent item that needed urgent attention. Many strong statements were made on the dangers faced by the unrestricted use of mobiles by young people. A vastly differing opinion was expressed however by Motorola's Mays Swicord with a poster presentation that in so many words expressed Motorola's corporate view that kids are no different than adults in regards to non-ionizing radiation so its okay to sell them cell phones (hopefully Motorola models I suppose). It reminded me of a classic quote:

"All scientists know of colleagues whose minds are so well equipped with the means of refutation that no new idea has the temerity to seek admittance. Their contribution to science is accordingly very small."

Peter Medawar, A Note on 'The Scientific Method' (1949), see: The Uniqueness of the Individual, New York, Dover, 1981

So, stay tuned!

Don Maisch
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