Hospital to research the health effects caused by mobile phones

A Sydney hospital will begin researching the long term effects of prolonged mobile phone use although overseas governments have been issuing health warnings with the sale of new handsets for more than a year.

Using a Transverse Electro Magnetic (TEM) Cell device, the Centre for Immunology at St Vincent's Hospital will simulate the impact of long-term chronic intermittent exposure to electromagnetic radiation through mobile phones.

The director of the centre, Professor Ronald Penny, said most studies have focused on short-term exposure on cells or animals, which did not assist in understanding the effects of years of regular mobile phone use on the tissues of the human brain.

Penny admits research to date is conflicting so it is important to come up with definitive answers.

The UK government moved to distribute warnings on the potential health risks associated with mobile phone use in December 2000 and distributes leaflets inside the box when new purchases are made.

It was announced as an interim safety measure until the government completes further research into emission levels. The move followed a report by the Independent Expert Group on Mobile Phones which identified health risks particularly for children, the elderly and infirm.

The Australian government has favoured industry self-regulation with the Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association claiming current research findings are inconclusive.

However, the Community Public Sector Union which represents 250,000 employees believes the government and employers have a duty of care considering the proliferation of mobile phones and the increasing use of wireless technologies in the workplace.

Telstra has contributed a $150,000 TEM cell device toward the research.

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