Health and safety
Child Internet Safety
The UK Council for Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS) unites over 100
organisations from the public and private sector working with Government
to deliver recommendations from Dr Tanya Byron's report 'Safer Children
in a Digital World' (http://www.dcsf.gov.uk/byronreview/).
Reporting directly to the Prime Minister, the Council will help to
improve the regulation and education around internet use, provide help in providing independent quotations, tackling
problems around online bullying, safer search features, and violent
video games. This coalition of experts and organisations aims to ensure
that parents and young people have a voice in the development of a
Child Internet Safety Strategy, to be delivered in 2009.
The Executive Board to the Council will be chaired by Home Offfice
and DCSF Ministers and is expected to meet on a quarterly basis. Its
role will be to provide strategic support and direction to Council
activity, hold the Chairs of the working and sub groups to account and
ensure progress against the strategy is secured.
Dr Mike Short, who is a member of the MoLeNET Advisory Board in his
capacity as Chair of the Mobile Data Association, has been appointed to
the Executive Board.
The membership of the Board is: http://www.dfes.gov.uk/pns/pnattach/20080215/1.html
Mobile phone alleged health risks - Key reports and research
The Independent Expert Group on Mobile Phones (IEGMP)
At the request of the then Minister for Public Health an independent
committee, under the chairmanship of Sir William Stewart, was set up
to report on Mobile Phones and Health. The committee’s report,
published in May 2000 (available at www.iegmp.org.uk), was the most comprehensive in the world and concluded that:
- The balance of evidence at that time suggested that exposures to
emissions of radiation from mobile phones, at levels below NRPB and
ICNIRP guidelines, do not cause adverse health effects to the general
- There was scientific evidence however which suggested that there
may be biological effects occurring at exposures below these guidelines.
- A precautionary approach to the use of mobile phone technologies
was recommended until much more detailed and scientifically robust
information on any health effects becomes available.
- More research was needed
Link Mobile Telecommunications and Health Research Programme (MTHR)
Following the publication of the report by the Independent Expert
Group on Mobile Phones a research programme, called the Link Mobile
Telecommunications and Health Research Programme (MTHR), was set up to
look into the possible health impact of Mobile
Telecommunications. Details of all the projects supported by the
Programme are published on its web site (http://www.mthr.org.uk).
MTHR 2007 Report
Key messages from the 2007 Report press release, published in September 2007, are:
- The six year research programme has found no association between
short term mobile phone use and brain cancer. Studies on volunteers
also showed no evidence that brain function was affected by mobile
phone signals or the signals used by the emergency services (TETRA).
The MTHR programme management committee believes there is no need to
support further work in this area.
- The research programme also included the largest and most robust
studies of electrical hypersensitivity undertaken anywhere in the
world. These studies have found no evidence that the unpleasant
symptoms experienced by sufferers are the result of exposure to signals
from mobile phones or base stations.
- The situation for longer term exposure is less clear as studies
have so far only included a limited number of participants who have
used their phones for 10 years or more. The committee recommends more
research be conducted in this area.
- The MTHR programme also investigated whether mobile phones might
affect cells and tissue beyond simply heating them. The results so far
show no evidence for this and the committee believes there is no need
to support further work in this area.
- The research programme has also funded some basic measurements of
radio signals from microcell and picocell base stations such as those
found in airports, railway stations and shopping malls. These have
shown that exposures are well below international guidelines.
- Additional studies also confirmed that the use of a mobile phone
while driving, whether hand-held or hands-free, causes impairment to
performance comparable to that from other in-car distractions. There
are however indications that the demand on cognitive resources from
mobile phones may be greater.
- The full 2007 Report can be downloaded from the MTHR website at www.mthr.org.uk
WiFi alleged health risks
On 12th October 2007 the Health Protection Agency announced
that it is going to "carry out a systematic programme of research into
wireless local area networks (WLANs) and their use. This will include
measurements of exposures from the Wireless Fidelity (WiFi) network and
is part of the Agency's ongoing programme of work in the area of
Professor Pat Troop, Chief Executive of the Health Protection Agency
said: "There is no scientific evidence to date that WiFi and WLANs
adversely affect the health of the general population. The signals are
very low power, typically 0.1 watt (100 milliwatts) in both the
computer and the router (access point) and the results so far show
exposures are well within ICNIRP guidelines. Given this, there is no
particular reason why schools and others should not continue to use
WiFi or other wireless networks. However there has not been extensive
research into what people's exposures actually are to this new
technology and that is why we are initiating this new programme of
research and analyses. We have good scientific reasons to expect the
results to be re-assuring and we will publish our findings."