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Mobile Phones and Health

Risk dialogue project on current state of research now completed

[9. Mai 2005]

Jülich, 9 May 2005. The possible risks of mobile phones and base stations are assessed differently by experts. The Programme Group Humans, Environment, Technology (MUT) of the German Research Centre Jülich brought together 25 leading experts from Germany and Switzerland in a risk dialogue to assess the results of recent scientific studies in this area. This project has now been completed. The suspicion of adverse health effects due to mobile phones was not confirmed. In some areas, however, further research is needed.

The project started in September 2003 and was completed in April 2005. It aimed at developing a dialogue procedure for a transparent risk assessment of "mobile phones and health". At the same time, an expert assessment was to be made of the most important scientific topics in this area. The project was funded by T-Mobile.

The Programme Group MUT succeeded in involving 25 leading scientists from Germany and Switzerland in this project. They assessed the current level of scientific knowledge regarding the influence of radio frequency electromagnetic fields on human health. Two experts each worked on one of the research areas relevant for mobile phones: cancer, mutagenic effects, impact on the central nervous system, disturbances of well-being and the blood-brain barrier. The experts selected and evaluated the most important scientific studies published between the years 2000 and 2004. A workshop was held for each research area and was attended by the assessors and other experts. The results of the assessment were subsequently discussed in a final workshop.

For the research areas of "blood-brain-barrier" and "cancer in animal experiments" the experts' conclusions are clear-cut: there is no indication of effects. For epidemiological studies on cancer the expert opinions are to some extent inconsistent, and the results of further studies are to be awaited. In other research areas some effects have been observed in laboratory research. However, it is not clear whether these effects are of any relevance for health. For instance, the experts point out that experimental results indicating an influence of mobile telephony on the central nervous system are without discernible harm for health. The same holds for indications of mutagenic effects: the experts are of the opinion that since no cell damage resulted these findings do not imply a health risk.

Dr. Peter Wiedemann, head of the Jülich MUT Programme Group, says in summary: "To assess the state of research for mobile phones and health is very complex." However, he sees the procedure applied in the project as a good chance for a structured discourse. The project aimed at providing a comparative risk assessment understandable even for lay people. "The scientific studies examined in the risk dialogue do not support suspicions that mobile telephony has harmful effects on health", Wiedemann concluded.

Contact information:

Annette Stettien
Science Journalist
Research Centre Jülich
52425 Jülich, Germany
Tel. +49 (0)2461 61-2388, Fax +49 (0)2461 61-4666

Dr. Angela Lindner
Head of the Public Relations Department
Research Centre Jülich
52425 Jülich, Germany
Tel. +49 (0)2461 61-4661, Fax +49 (0)2461 61-4666