New watchdog to check radiation dangers

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The Independent Online
AN ADVISORY group has been set up by the government to look into the safety of mobile phones in response to widespread public concern.

Tessa Jowell, the junior health minister, told MPs yesterday that she had asked the National Radiological Protection Board to create the body to look into potential ill-effects on health.

Ms Jowell told the Commons science and technology select committee that the working group would consist of lay members, including consumer groups, as well as scientists. Representatives of the mobile-phone industry will be barred to ensure independence.

The minister said that it was vital that, as with genetically modified foods, the public had a group of experts acting on their behalf.

Recent individual studies, which have not been scientifically reproduced, have suggested that radio microwaves from the phones could lead to memory loss and cancers. But Ms Jowell stressed that current research showed that there was no "cause for concern" over the effects of the radio waves on human health. "This is based on limited data,' she said. "There is a need for further research. It's my judgment that there is a high level of public interest in this issue."

The working group will commission detailed studies into the field in response to fears that there is insufficient evidence currently available. Ms Jowell said the Department of Health's current research budget is only pounds 60,000 and covers only two British projects.