Mobile phone industry rejects Democrats’ misleading tower claims

The Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association rejects today’s false and misleading claims made by the Australian Democrats about mobile phone towers and alleged health effects.

AMTA Chief Executive Officer, Chris Althaus, said the industry relied on the findings of international scientific experts to make assessments on the safety of mobile phone base stations.

“The international consensus of expert bodies and health authorities such as the World Health Organisation (WHO) is there is no substantiated scientific evidence of health effects from living near a mobile phone base station,” he said.

“Comprehensive reviews of over 2500 research publications, including more than 600 studies specifically on mobile phones and base stations, by governments and health authorities continue, without exception, to find there is no substantiated scientific evidence of health effects.”

Mobile phone base stations are designed, built and tested to comply with strict science based guidelines which are recognised by national and international health agencies around the world as providing ample protection for all members of the community.

In fact, the latest WHO fact sheet says:

Recent surveys have indicated that RF exposures from base stations and wireless technologies in publicly accessible areas (including schools and hospitals) are normally thousands of times below international standards.

Furthermore, the fact sheet says:

Considering the very low exposure levels and research results collected to date, there is no convincing scientific evidence that the weak RF signals from base stations and wireless networks cause adverse health effects.

In 200, Senator Lyn Allison headed a Government Inquiry into Electromagnetic Energy. The Senate Committee held public hearings throughout Australia and received testimonies from a number of international experts. The Committee concluded:

After an 18-month investigation, the Committee confirmed that there exists no substantiated evidence of health effects from mobile phones that comply with strict safety standards.

Similar expert assessments confirming the scientific consensus on mobile phone and base station safety include: the UK Government (2007) EU’s Scientific Committee (2007) Irish Government (2007) the US Health Physics Society (2006) the Health Council of the Netherlands (2005, 2002) the UK Health Protection Agency (2004) the Swedish Radiation Protection Authority (2003) the American Cancer Society (2001) the World Health Organisation (2006, 2000) a specially-formed expert group of eminent scientists in the UK (2003, 2000) and the governments of France (2003, 2001), Australia (2000) and Canada (1999).

Furthermore, the suggestion that fatal illnesses such as cancer have increased since the introduction of mobile phone technologies is also false. For example, a number of recent papers have found the widespread introduction of mobile phones in the 1980’s had no impact on the number of people diagnosed with brain tumours.

Sundeep Deorah of the department of epidemiology at Iowa University investigated brain cancer incidence in the US between 1973 and 2001.

The paper can be found at: [ http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/540146 ]

The study examined 38,453 cases of brain tumours and found no link between increased mobile phone use and brain cancer rates in the general population.

“Our results do not support the hypothesis relating cellular phone use and brain cancer at the population level.”

The researchers actually found the number of brain tumours declined since mobile phones were introduced.

“If anything, the incidence of brain cancer declined during the period of cellular phone use. Of particular interest is the observation that the incidence rates are declining in the urban countries, which are expected to contain heavy users of cellular phones.”

In Australia, mobile phone base stations operate under strict limits set by independent expert bodies to ensure that robust safety standards apply to protect people. Australia’s safety standard is based on guidelines developed by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP).

The WHO supports this safety standard saying:

International guidelines developed by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) are based on a careful analysis of all scientific literature (both thermal and non-thermal effects) and offer protection against all identified hazards of RF energy with large safety margins.

Levels of emissions from mobile phone base stations are well below the limits specified by Australia’s safety standard.

The Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Authority recently confirmed the safety of base stations in research conducted on 60 towers across Australia. The researchers found that on average the exposure level was 5000 times below the Australian safety limit in locations where the levels were expected to be at their highest. The researchers concluded:

It is clear from this survey that RF EME exposure levels from mobile telecommunications base stations are well within the mandated exposure limits of the ARPANSA Standard for the general public in Australia.

To put this in perspective it should be noted that the standard itself already has a fifty-fold safety margin built into it, which is a significant precautionary measure.

ARPANSA has also measured the levels of EME from other radio facilities and found that AM radio was by far the most significant contributor of radio frequency emissions to the community’s overall environmental exposure (91.17%). Digital mobile phone base stations contributed only 1.4%.

The Australian planning laws for mobile base stations require compliance with the strict EME safety standards providing reassurance for communities.

For more information contact Randal Markey, AMTA (02) 6239 6555 or 0421 240 550