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MOA Position on MTHR Report

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Major UK research programme reports no ill effects from mobile phone use

12 September 2007

A major UK research programme into mobile phone safety established after publication of the Stewart Report in 2000 has not found any evidence of adverse health effects from mobile phone use or living near radio base stations in studies published to date.  The Mobile Telecommunications Health Research (MTHR) programme was established to fill gaps in scientific knowledge identified by the Stewart Report.

The report concludes “None of the research supported by the Programme and published so far demonstrates that biological or adverse health effects are produced by radiofrequency exposure from mobile phones.” The report also notes that measurements of radio signals from base stations show that exposures are well below international guidelines.

The MTHR findings are reassuring and consistent with the conclusion that no adverse health effects from mobile phone use have been established as reflected in more than 30 independent scientific reviews published in the UK and around the world during the past six years. Equally reassuring, the MTHR report recognises that, in certain areas, no further research is required.

The UK mobile network operators acknowledge the report’s comments about some remaining uncertainties and have agreed to support ongoing research work by MTHR in line with the WHO research agenda.

The operators also remain committed to addressing public concern about this issue in an open and transparent manner and to engaging in ongoing dialogue with other stakeholders.

Notes:

  • The Mobile Telecommunications and Health Research Programme (MTHR), was established following the publication of the report by the Independent Expert Group on Mobile Phones (commonly known as the Stewart Report) to look into the possible health impact of mobile telecommunications.
  • The MTHR programme was managed by a Programme Management Committee (PMC), Chaired by Professor Lawrie Challis. A “firewall” was established to ensure complete independence of the PMC and the researchers from MTHR funders.
  • In total, £8.8 million was contributed to the MTHR programme from various sources and was used to fund 28 research projects, conducted by independent scientists at universities and research institutions around the UK covering areas of epidemiology, human volunteer studies, biological mechanisms, exposure and dosimetry, and risk communication.
  • Today’s report covered 23 research projects many of whose results have now been published in peer-reviewed scientific journals.
  • In accordance with the recommendation of the Stewart Report MTHR was funded jointly by the UK Government and the mobile phone industry.
  • UK mobile network operators (3, O2, Orange, T-Mobile and Vodafone) contributed £2,535,000.

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.