Monday, 20 May 2019

In Brief

Texters make wonky walkers, Queensland study finds

University of Queensland study has warned text-messaging puts a walker’s balance, posture and safety at risk.

“While texting on a phone, study participants walked slower and their heads moved more because of a more rigid connection to the torso,” lead researcher Wolbert van den Hoorn from the UQ School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences (SHRS) said.
“Their head assumes a flexed, or tucked-chin position. Combined with more head movement, this upsets their balance and therefore their ability to walk in a straight line.
“They are essentially prioritising the phone task at the expense of their own walking balance.”
AMTA’s website provides the following safety tips for pedestrians:
  • If you are using your mobile while walking, make sure you exercise caution and remain aware of potential hazards.
  • Even when not crossing the road, be aware of other pedestrians and look, listen and think when walking on streets, particularly near car parks, drive ways, train stations and bus stops.
  • Pause your music and pay full attention while crossing the road. It's important to be able to hear traffic approaching as well as see it.
  • Be particularly careful and pause your music/video/texting when getting on and off public transport such as trams, buses and trains. Always stand behind the yellow line while waiting for the tram or train. 


EC seek feedback on opinion that there is no link between EMFs and adverse health

The European Commission have released a draft report that has found no causal link between electromagnetic fields and adverse health effects and have asked the public to comment on the report before it is officially published.
The commission’s expert independent advisory group – the Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR) – produced the preliminary opinion (pdf) and has invited interested parties to submit written comments by 16 April 2014.
“The preliminary opinion addresses issues of public concern, such as potential health effects from radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (RF EMF) emitted by mobile phones and broadcast transmitters, as well as from extremely low frequency (ELF) magnetic fields originating from power lines and any electrical household appliance at home or in the office,” the Commission said in a statement.
The report is an update to SCENIHR’s last report published in 2009 and considers more than 500 new studies published since then.
It also addresses areas considered inclusive or that needed further investigation in 2009, including:
  • The potential increased cancer risk of the brain (glioma) and the ear (acoustic neuroma) in heavy users of mobile phones.
  • The potential association between exposure to broadcast transmitters and a higher rate of childhood cancer, including childhood leukaemia.
  • Reproductive problems, cognitive function or symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, stress, sleep disturbances and skin problems.
  • Increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
“This preliminary opinion being put forward for public consultation, has found no causal link between electromagnetic fields at the current maximum limits and the above adverse effects to health. However, it concludes that further study is needed in some of these areas, notably the link with cancer of the ear (acoustic neuroma),” the Commission said.

Warnings against all mobile phone use while driving 'wrong' says AMTA

AMTA has reminded drivers that using a mobile phone correctly mounted in a fixed cradle is still legal in Australia, despite advice from road safety authorities to never use your phone while driving and to place it in the boot to avoid temptation.

Speaking with Fairfax, AMTA CEO Chris Althaus said blanket warnings never to use a phone while driving are confusing and send the wrong message to drivers
“If you look at a graph of the road toll and a graph of the adoption of mobile technology, they are going in opposite directions,” Mr Althaus said.
“Thankfully we are driving the road toll down, but we have to be realistic and sensible about how we communicate the message on mobiles. Blanket statements with the best of intentions are unrealistic and generally proven to not work.”
Mr Althaus’ comments followed an increase in mobile phone penalties in Victoria from $289 and three demerit points to $433 and four points.
Rather than focusing solely on punishment, Mr Althaus said road safety authorities should be educating drivers on safe and legal ways to use a mobile phone behind the wheel. 


Published 9/04/2014

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