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Concern about base station on Australian University building

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12 May 2006

The RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia has announced the closure of part of one of its buildings to allow environmental tests to be carried out, including those on radio wave emissions from mobile phone base stations on the roof, following a number of cases of brain tumours amongst staff working there.;ID=6a5wbfi9ot2e

The Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA) has emphasised that there is no established scientific link between radio wave emissions and brain tumours, either malignant or benign.

In addition, in a position statement the Australian Centre for Radiofrequency Bioeffects Research (ACRBR) “cautions against any premature speculation about putative underlying causes of these brain tumours, which appear to have occurred over a considerable period of time in a small number of staff working in the building.”

The current advice from the UK Health Protection Agency's expert group on mobile phone masts and health is: "Exposure levels from living near mobile base stations are extremely low, and the overall evidence indicates that they are unlikely to pose a risk to health."

This advice is consistent with 27 other national and international scientific reviews carried out during the past five years.  These include reviews by the Health Protection Agency, the British Medical Association, the World Health Organisation, and national governments.

More than 400 random audits of base station radiowave emissions carried out during the past five years in the UK by Ofcom have confirmed that these emissions are typically small fractions of international health and safety exposure guidelines.

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.