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MOA Response to Council of Europe Environment Committee Report on Mobile Technology

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On 15th May, the Sunday Telegraph reported that the Council of Europe Environment Committee was proposing restrictions on mobile phone and Wi-Fi use, because of alleged health effects. In fact, the World Health Organisation, the UK Health Protection Agency, and many other national health agencies around the world, say that no adverse health effects have been established for mobile phones operating within international exposure guidelines.

The science around radio waves and mobile phones has been extensively researched. The Council of Europe Environment Committee has reached a different conclusion about the science from the conclusions reached by a whole host of independent, national and international, scientific authorities. The committee is, of course, composed of politicians, not scientists.

Policies on public exposure to radio waves should be based on the best scientific evidence available. Recommendations for non-scientific restrictions are not supported by the WHO or the Health Protection Agency, and will provide no health benefit, cause unfounded public concern, and could adversely impact the quality of mobile services relied on by millions of individuals, and by public services and businesses.

It is important to remember that the ICNIRP (International Commission on Non-Ionising Radiation Protection) public exposure guidelines for mobile phones and base stations provide protection for all people, including children. ICNIRP is an independent committee of international experts who carefully review all the relevant scientific literature.

More than 30 independent reviews of the scientific evidence over the last decade have confirmed that there are no established adverse health effects from the use of mobile phones and their base stations operating within international guideline limits.

61% of UK adults access the internet from mobiles

Mobile phones cannot work without a network of base stations (masts). There are approximately 52,500 base station sites (excluding microcells) in the UK. Only a third of these are large, free standing masts. A YouGov survey for MOA (Sept 2014) showed that nearly 8 out of 10 people recognise the link between masts and good mobile coverage. Mobile telecommunications are vital for the UK’s economic competitiveness and in promoting social inclusion. There are now 89.9 million mobile subscriptions in the UK. In Q1 2015 61 per cent of UK adults used their mobile phones for internet access. Tablet ownership is 54% of UK households.

No Established Health Effects

Mobile phones operate by using radio waves, similar to those that have been widely used for decades, for example in radio, TV and radar signals. A large number of studies over the last two decades have found no clear evidence of adverse health effects from the use of mobile phones or from phone masts.