Tuesday, 18 June 2019

Australian electromagnetic radiation research boost

SAR testFederal Minister for Health, the Hon Tanya Plibersek MP, has announced funding for a $2.5 million Australian Centre of Research Excellence (CRE) for Electromagnetic Bioeffects Research at the University Of Wollongong (UOW) to look into the possible health impacts of mobile phones.


“With over 5 billion mobile phone subscriptions world-wide, the electromagnetic energy (EME) that powers this technology is now ubiquitous, as is community concern about the possibility of associated health effects,” Ms Plibersek said.


“Responding to this concern, this CRE will embark on a 5-year research program to promote Australia’s EME health both in the immediate future, and through the development of human research capacity in this field, into the future.”


Professor Rodney Croft, who will head the research team, said extensive international research had not found a definitive link between mobile phones and health, but further studies were vital.


“There's been a lot of research looking at mobile telecommunications over the years, which has failed to find any health effects,” Professor Croft told the Illawarra Mercury.


“But it's such a crucial thing as billions of people are using mobiles today.”


“So if there is a problem we really need to know what it is.


"We will address the World Health Organization research agenda in this area, which covers a whole range of research areas, including mobile phone usage and possible links with conditions like cancer and Alzheimer's disease."


Professor Croft said whether or not the low-level EME exposure affected health has not been resolved, with key health agencies such as the World Health Organization and the International Agency for Research on Cancer, recommending further research.


“It is thus crucial that Australia strengthen its EME bioeffect expertise in order to provide it with strong research and appropriate policy guidance, both now and into the future,” he said in a statement.


Apart from the School of Psychology at UOW the Chief Investigators hail from: SA Pathology trading as IMVS Pathology (Institute of Medical and Veterinary Science); RMIT University (Health Innovations Research Institute); Swinburne University of Technology (Brain and Psychological Sciences Research Centre); Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute (Molecular Cardiology and Biophysics Division); University of Adelaide; and University of Auckland.


AMTA Chief Executive Officer, Chris Althaus, welcomed the funding and said the industry supports well conducted independent research that is published in peer reviewed journals.


In Australia, the key aspect of industry's support for research involves a specific hypothecated electromagnetic energy (EME) research levy on the annual licence fees paid to the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).


ACMA collects the industry levy and the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) allocates funds to scientific research programs and projects into health issues and EME from mobile phone handsets and base stations such as funding for CREs.


Some funds are also allocated for community education via the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA).


AMTA estimates more than $9 million has been committed from the industry levy towards this research program and ongoing public education since the levy arrangements began more than a decade ago.


The Australian Centre for RF Bioeffects Research (ACRBR), at Swinburne University, which ran from 2004 to 2011, was also funded from the levy on industry in Australia.

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