The European Commission has set limits on the amount of electromagnetic waves that can be emitted by mobile phones in Europe, it said last Monday.
The standard will apply to mobile phones marketed within the European Union. It limits the amount of thermal radiation to two watts per kilogram of human tissue, said Commission mobile phone safety expert Mark Bogers.
"All mobiles marketed in the European Union are well within this level already. Most emit around 1 watt per kilo," Bogers said.
People have been concerned about the thermal or microwave heating effect of mobiles. Bogers explained that a microwave oven applies over 1000 watts to a very small amount of liquid. He added that mobile manufacturers have two reasons for trying to reduce thermal emissions. In addition to the health aspect, higher emissions reduce the efficiency of mobile phone batteries, he said.
"It is impossible to conclude scientifically that something is safe; only that it is unsafe," Bogers said. "But there is so much research into thermal emissions, citizens can be assured that public authorities (such as the Commission) are taking care of the safety issues connected to thermal heating."
Research into other non-thermal effects is less clear. "There is an influence on organisms but no indication of any health hazards (from non-thermal mobile phone emissions)," Bogers said.
The standard set by the Commission is based on values proposed by the International Committee on Non-Ionising Radiation Protection (ICNIRP), the Commission said in a statement. The limits will be reviewed later this year.
Further standards will be adopted to cover other product types, such as GSM base stations or antennas, anti-theft ports (used in shops) and low-power radio devices.
Bogers said emissions from GSM base stations are well below the emission levels of handsets, and therefore pose even less of a threat to public health.
The European Commission's web page on mobile phone safety can be found at http://europa.eu.int/comm/enterprise/rtte/