November 23, 2005

Cell Phones are Safe: Dutch Health Council

AMSTERDAM -- There is no evidence that radiation from mobile phones or mobile phone and TV towers is harmful to people, but more investigation is needed, the Dutch Health Council said in a new report on Wednesday.

The Electromagnetic Fields Committee of the council, which advises the Dutch government, studied fresh research from around the world published between 2003 and October 2005, and said the outcome of studies proved either inconclusive or did not meet scientific criteria.

One 2003 Dutch TNO study into the effect of UMTS radio base stations, which emit and receive the signals to and from third-generation mobile phones, is currently being replicated in several other countries. The TNO study alone, however, cannot prove health damage or a reduced feeling of well-being.

The council disagrees with the conclusion drawn in two other studies -- one in Naila, Germany, and another in Netanya, Israel -- which found a connection between living in the proximity of a base station and the occurrence of cancer, because the design and execution of the studies was inadequate.

Five more studies, which measured an increased risk of leukemia or any other form of cancer as a result of proximity to radio and TV transmitters in Hawaii, Sydney, Britain, the Vatican and Korea, also proved inconclusive or invalid after analysis.

Another long-term international study called INTERPHONE in 14 countries, sponsored by the World Health Organization, has looked for a relationship between mobile phone usage and brain tumors.

Based on some countries where studies have already been finalized, the Dutch Health Council said it remains unclear to what extent the long-term use of a mobile phone is related to the occurrence of acoustic neuromas, or non-malignant tumors.

"For (malignant) brain tumors, there does not, at this stage, appear to be any association," it added.

The council said there was no reason at this point to discourage mobile phone usage for children older than two years, but added more research needed to be done.

Five mobile telecoms carriers in the Netherlands, represented by MoNet, said they welcomed the health council report and hoped it would encourage local authorities to relax rules on the location of new base stations.