Public Release: 

New report on mobile phone research published

University of Nottingham

Mobile phones have not been found to be associated with any biological or adverse health effects, according to the UK's largest investigation into the possible health risks from mobile telephone technology.

The Mobile Telecommunications and Health Research (MTHR) Programme published its conclusions on September 12 as part of its 2007 Report.

The six-year research programme, chaired by Professor Lawrie Challis, Emeritus Professor of Physics at The University of Nottingham, has found no association between short term mobile phone use and brain cancer. Studies on volunteers also showed no evidence that brain function was affected by mobile phone signals or the signals used by the emergency services (TETRA).

The MTHR programme management committee believes there is no need to support further work in this area.

The research programme also included the largest and most robust studies of electrical hypersensitivity undertaken anywhere in the world. These studies have found no evidence that the unpleasant symptoms experienced by sufferers are the result of exposure to signals from mobile phones or base stations.

The situation for longer-term exposure is less clear as studies have so far only included a limited number of participants who have used their phones for ten years or more. The committee recommends more research be conducted in this area.

The MTHR programme also investigated whether mobile phones might affect cells and tissue beyond simply heating them. The results so far show no evidence for this and the committee believes there is no need to support further work in this area.

Professor Lawrie Challis, Chairman of MTHR, said: "This is a very substantial report from a large research programme. The work reported today has all been published in respected peer-reviewed scientific or medical journals.

"The results are so far reassuring but there is still a need for more research, especially to check that no effects emerge from longer-term phone use from adults and from use by children."

The research programme has also funded some basic measurements of radio signals from microcell and picocell base stations such as those found in airports, railway stations and shopping malls. These have shown that exposures are well below international guidelines.

Additional studies also confirmed that the use of a mobile phone while driving, whether hand-held or hands-free, causes impairment to performance comparable to that from other in-car distractions. There are however indications that the demand on cognitive resources from mobile phones may be greater.

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Details of all the projects supported by the Programme are published on its web site: http://www.mthr.org.uk

Notes to editors:

The University of Nottingham is Britain's University of the Year (The Times Higher Awards 2006). It undertakes world-changing research, provides innovative teaching and a student experience of the highest quality. Ranked by Newsweek in the world's Top 75 universities, its academics have won two Nobel Prizes since 2003. The University is an international institution with campuses in the United Kingdom, Malaysia and China.

The MTHR Programme was set up in response to the research recommendations contained within the 'Stewart Report'. The Programme received approximately £8.8 million of funding from a variety of government and industry sources.

To ensure the independence of the research, scientific management of the programme was entrusted to an independent Programme Management Committee made up of independent experts, mostly senior university academics. Funds contributed by the sponsors of the Programme are managed on behalf of the Committee by the Department of Health as Secretariat to the Programme.

The first Chairman of the Programme Management Committee was Sir William Stewart and he was succeeded in November 2002 by Professor Lawrie Challis, Emeritus Professor of Physics at the University of Nottingham and formerly Vice-chairman of the Stewart Committee.

The Programme was set up in 2001 and has supported 28 individual research projects, mostly undertaken in UK universities. Of these, 23 have now been completed and most have published results in peer-reviewed scientific and medical journals (23 papers to date, with more expected in the near future). The Report 2007 summarises the state of knowledge at the time of the Stewart Report and the current state of knowledge, taking account of both research supported by the Programme and that carried out elsewhere. It also provides an indication of future research priorities.

More information is available from the Science Media Centre on +44 (0)20 7670 2980 smc@sciencemediacentre.org; or Media Relations Manager Tim Utton in the University's Media and Public Relations Office on +44 (0)115 846 8092, tim.utton@nottingham.ac.uk. For non-news media enquires call Nigel Cridland - MTHR Scientific Co-ordinator +44 (0)1235 822666 MTHRDL@hpa.org.uk

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