United Kingdom – Policy Recommendations On Cell Phones, Wireless Radiation & Health

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The UK National Health Service recommends reducing exposure since 2002.

  • 2002 Steward Report commissioned by the UK Government – “Phones and Mobile Health – AUK Perspective”. The report found that exposure to RF radiation below guidelines has not been “proven” to cause adverse health effects but it is not possible to say “that exposure to RF radiation, even at levels below national guidelines, is totally without potential adverse health effects” as “there is some scientific evidence which suggests that there may be biological effects and gaps in knowledge justify a precautionary approach to the use of mobile phone technologies until much more detailed and scientifically robust information on any health effects becomes available.”
  • UK Department of Health –  2005 “Mobile Phones and Health” brochure which reads:“The expert group has therefore recommended that in line with a precautionary approach, the widespread use of mobile phones by children (under the age of 16) should be discouraged for non-essential calls. In the light of this recommendation the UK Chief Medical Officers strongly advise that where children and young people do use mobile phones, they should be encouraged to: • use mobile phones for essential purposes only • keep all calls short – talking for long periods prolongs exposure and should be discouraged The UK CMOs recommend that if parents want to avoid their children being subject to any possible risk that might be identified in the future, the way to do so is to exercise their choice not to let their children use mobile phones.”
  • NHS 2009 slide presentation – “Radio Waves”
  • 2015 Webpage “Risks of mobile phone use”’ with recommendations that state,“Children are thought to be at higher risk of health implications from the use of mobile phones. This is because their skulls and cells are still growing and tend to absorb radiation more easily. It is recommended that children use mobile phones only if absolutely necessary.”
  • National Health Service –  2011 “Mobile Phones and Base Stations” which reads, “Therefore, as a precaution, the UK Chief Medical Officers advise that children and young people under 16 should be encouraged to use mobile phones for essential purposes only, and to keep calls short. If you are concerned, you can take steps to reduce your exposure such as using hands free kits or texting.”
  • 2011 NHS Brochure – “Mobile phones and base stations: Health advice on using mobile phones”, which states: “The body and nervous system are still developing into the teenage years. Therefore, as a precaution, the UK Chief Medical Officers advise that children and young people under 16 should be encouraged to use mobile phones for essential purposes only, and to keep calls short.”
  • Prior to 2015, the NHS also had additional website sections on health effects, including “Mobiles and mums-to-be” web page, which summarized the research showing cell phones had been linked to behavioral issues in children. NHS also had a “Mobile effect on sleep” webpage which detailed research which concluded  RF “ is associated with adverse effects on sleep quality within certain sleep stages”. For the public, the NHS had “recommendations to help lower any potential long-term risks” which included keeping calls short, keeping the phone away from the body on standby mode, only use the phone when the reception is strong and using a phone with an external antenna. These web pages were deleted from the current site.
  • In 2011, the National Health Service offered specific recommendations to reduce cell phone radiation exposure to children. Precautions are still recommended, however by 2015 this original advice was no longer present on the site. The UK National Health service changed the public advice text. Everything noted above was reworded. Now the website states:
  • 2015 Mobile Phone Safety – Risks Webpage – “If there are any health risks from the use of mobile phones, children might be more vulnerable because their bodies and nervous systems are still developing. Research carried out to date hasn’t supported a link between mobile phone use and childhood cancers such as leukaemia. However, if you have any concerns, you can lower your child’s exposure to radio waves by only allowing them to use mobile phones for essential purposes and keeping calls short.”
  • The newly edited section called “Mobile phone safety – FAQs” states: “Do scientists know everything about mobile phones and health? No, and research is continuing. Mobile phones have only been widely used for about 20 to 30 years, so it’s not possible to be so certain about the safety of long-term use. More research on the effects of mobile phones on children is also needed, as they’re known to be more sensitive than adults to many environmental agents, such as lead pollution and sunlight. Government advice is to be on the safe side and limit mobile phone use by children.”
  • 2015 Webpage “Risks of mobile phone use”’ contains recommendations that state,“Children are thought to be at higher risk of health implications from the use of mobile phones. This is because their skulls and cells are still growing and tend to absorb radiation more easily. It is recommended that children use mobile phones only if absolutely necessary.”

2016 Regulation No. 588 – “Control of Electromagnetic Fields at Work”

  • Original Legislation
  • The regulation requires employers to assess the levels of EMFs their employees may be exposed to, ensure compliance, provide information on risks and take action if necessary.
  • “You must ensure you take workers at particular risk, such as expectant mothers and workers with active or passive implanted or body worn medical devices, into account when appropriate, devise and implement an action plan to ensure compliance with the exposure limits.”
  • Safety and Health Practitioner News Article – “Explained: CEFAW Regulations, which come into force today”
  • Work Regulations 2016”
    • This guidance explains an employer’s duties under the Control of Electromagnetic Fields at Work Regulations 2016 and will also be useful to others with responsibilities for health and safety such as employee and safety representatives. It explains what an EMF is, what the law says and how to assess employees’ potential exposure to EMFs with reference to ‘action levels’ and ‘exposure limit values’.

 

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