Tuesday, September 16, 2003

Refried brains

New Scientist has got an interview with Mays Swicord, one of the leading researchers into the effect of RF radiation on human cells. He has concluded that any effect is tiny - causing heating of about 0.1oC. This is much smaller than other heating effects and is highly unlikely to be harmful. Other possible effects identified have never been replicated.

'On the World Health Organization (WHO) website you'll find a database set up by the IEEE (the US Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) containing thousands of papers, reports and reviews since 1950, all of them about non-ionising radiation in some way. Almost 1300 of them are peer-reviewed publications dealing with the issue of biological effects. Of course, a lot of them report that radiation does have an effect. But I don't know of one that is confirmed or replicated by independent researchers,' he says.

He continues: 'After 35 years in this business, I must conclude that there is nothing there. What else can I conclude? Even when people say, "we've found something new", you go back to that database and you'll find people have already done something related and haven't been able to prove it as a predictable phenomenon.'

Mobile phones are not harmful. Relatively cheap mobile phones are wonderful gadgets and extremely useful tools. But if we wring our hands with worry every time some useful new thing comes along, we will undoubtedly slow human progress.

It's good to talk, New Scientist


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