HC Deb 12 March 1998 vol 308 cc353-4W
Mr. Faber

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what discussions he or his Department have had with representatives of the mobile phone industry concerning the possible medical effects of the use of mobile phone handsets; [34152]

(2) what research he has commissioned into the possible medical effects of (a) telecommunication masts and (b) the use of mobile phone handsets. [34153]

Ms Jowell

The Department has had no discussions with the mobile phone industry about possible health effects associated with handsets. The National Radiological Protection Board (NRPB) provides advice to Government on the risks to human health from both ionising and non-ionising radiations. NRPB' s view is that mobile phone handsets currently used in the United Kingdom comply with the recommended exposure restrictions.

At locations accessible to the public, the electromagnetic radiation emitted by mobile phone transmitters is below maximum exposure levels recommended by the NRPB, published in Documents of the NRPB, Vol 4, No 5, 1993, copies of which have been placed in the Library.

Wider concerns about the alleged health effects of long term use of mobile phones are currently being addressed by a range of research undertakings. The Department has commissioned three studies on biological effects of mobile phone microwave frequencies. The first is investigating the influence of radiation on learning ability and behaviour, the second is a laboratory study looking for biological responses of human cells in an electromagnetic radiation field and the third is a human volunteer study investigating possible effects of mobile phone usage on cognitive ability.

The Department is also currently supporting the following initiatives: the review of possible health effects of electromagnetic fields, including microwave frequencies, being undertaken by the Advisory Group on Non-ionising Radiation to the NRPB; the World Health Organisation International Electromagnetic Fields Project which includes health effects of microwave frequencies.

In addition a European Commission Expert Group has recommended a programme of scientific research to address the subject of mobile telephony and human health.