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For the record

Calls to ban mobile phones and Wi-Fi claiming they pose a public health risk not based on evidence

On the 16th May 2011 the Council of Europe passed a resolution1 calling for a more cautious approach to the use of technology such as mobile phones and Wi-Fi, claiming they pose a public health risk and asking for a revision of the current threshold values. They say that “waiting for high levels of scientific and clinical proof can lead to very high health and economic costs, as was the case in the past with asbestos, leaded petrol and tobacco.”
This was reported in several papers, with headlines including “Ban mobile phones and Wi-Fi  from schools 'as they are potentially harmful’” (Daily Mail);  “Wi-Fi and mobile phones 'pose health risk to children’” (Metro); and “Ban mobile phones and wireless networks in schools, say European leaders” (Telegraph).
In 2008 we worked with scientists, engineers and medics on Making Sense of Radiation, a guide to explain what we know about radiation and health effects, and what the status of evidence from the research that has been carried out tells us. As Dr Mark Miodownik - materials engineer at King’s College London - says in the guide: “Neither scientists nor regulatory bodies can ever state categorically that anything is absolutely safe. Science works in terms of probabilities, so there is no such thing as 100% safe. But we can say that there is no evidence to suggest that they are not safe.“
For a more detailed discussion of the evidence on health effects of radiation, read Making Sense of Radiation.


Author: Sense About Science

Document type: For The Record

Published: 16 May 2011

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