* Teen cellphone radiation risk - Killer drivers on phones face six years - Pollutions electromagnetique de notre environment-Risques biologique-Radioprotection (7/4/03)
Mobile phone manufacturers should take seriously a Swedish finding that their products are dangerous for teenagers and work on developing safer phones, says scientist Dr Neil Cherry.

Cherry, an associate professor in environmental health at Lincoln University, Christchurch, said there were more than 50 patents for devices or methods to make phones safer that were not being used by manufacturers.

"My estimate is that it is practical to reduce users' exposure by 100 to 1000 times," he said.

"The primary methods are to manufacture the handset within a 'Faraday cage' shield," he said.

"The antenna is on the outside but focused into a narrow beam of about 30 degrees pointed away from the user. The hands-free kit is a fibre-optic cable to connect the phone to the ear and mouth."

Cherry was commenting on a study by Swedish scientists, led by neurosurgeon Leif Salford and published last month.

It found that cells in the parts of rats' brains that controlled sensation, memory and movement died after being exposed to various GSM phones at different levels of radiation for two hours.

The rats tested were said to be equivalent in age to teenagers.

Salford warned that long-term exposure could potentially lower brain reserve capacity.

"We cannot exclude that after some decades of [often] daily use, a whole generation of users may suffer negative effects," he said.

There are 2.3 million mobile phones in use in New Zealand, with an estimated 60 per cent of households having at least one.

Cherry claimed that phone manufacturers were promoting their products to teenagers and children to create a lifelong customer base.

"Even though science shows that mobile phones are more dangerous than tobacco, they use the fact that radiation is invisible and can't be seen or smelt like smoke."

He urged the Government to make manufacturers place safety warning on phones. "Companies should be required to publicly agree to make phones much safer."

Cherry also urged parents to minimise their children's use of mobile phones.

"They should find the lowest-exposure cellphone, use a hands-free kit, and frequently question phone makers so they are continuously made aware of public concern. Whenever you can, use a wire phone."

Martin Gledhill, science adviser at the National Radiation Laboratory in Christchurch, also advised consumers to take precautions but said the Salford study had to be replicated and supported by similar research before it could be accepted as definitive.

Children younger than 16 were more vulnerable to radiation and should be discouraged from using mobile phones, he said.

Manufacturers the Herald contacted insisted their phones abided by international safety standards.

Sony Ericsson general manager David Georgetti said the Salford-led study was simply a re-analysis of earlier data produced by Swedish researcher Lennart Hardell.

"No overall statistically significant increased risk was found for all mobile phone users."

Georgetti said product safety was a top priority for Sony and its products were well within World Health Organisation limits.

"We have also introduced some models with speaker-phone functionality [external speaker and long-range microphone] and a desk-stand accessory which converts any phone to speaker-phone," he said.

Motorola's director of communications and public affairs (Pacific division), Russell Grimmer, said safety was an important part of the company's business.

"We are sensitive and responsive to any questions about the safety of Motorola products.

"We stand behind those products and devote considerable resources to assuring their safety."

Lane Stephens of Nokia Mobile Phones NZ said emission rates were below the prescribed limits.

"All Nokia phones fulfil relevant national and international safety standards and limits. Next-generation products are no different, since they must meet the same limits."

Radiation risks

The National Radiation Laboratory, a Ministry of Health business unit, provides expert advice, service and research concerning public, occupational and medical exposure to radiation. Its recommendations on mobile phone use are:

* Use the phone in places with a strong signal. This allows the phone to transmit at low power (up to 100 times lower than its maximum value), reducing exposure accordingly.

* Minimise the length of time on calls.
* Extend the antenna and hold it away from the head.
* Use a hands-free kit with an external antenna.

Individuals concerned about exposure to radiation from mobile phones can refer to guidelines available at the National Radiation Laboratory.

Useful links

* Associate Professor Neil Cherry's studies on effects of radiation

* A report on the effect of mobile phone shielding devices

* Dr Leif Salford's study

Informant: Reinhard Rückemann

Killer drivers on phones face six years

Motorists who cause death while using a mobile phone or falling asleep
at the wheel face long jail terms, the Lord Chief Justice has
recommended. Introducing new sentencing guidelines, Lord Woolf said
anyone convicted of killing by dangerous driving would "normally" face a
prison sentence of at least 12-18 months - with a maximum of 10 years.
But those who caused death while distracted by talking or texting on a
mobile phone, reading or feeling drowsy, could expect to be jailed for
several years, possibly a minimum of six years if other "aggravating
factors" were present. Drivers must know that, if a person is killed...
a custodial sentence will normally be imposed no matter what the
mitigating circumstances

The new guidelines come as part of a judgement by a panel of judges at
the Court of Appeal relating to three appeals against charges for death
by dangerous driving. The judges set out new recommendations for setting
the length of sentence, taking into account the driver's record, any
mitigating or aggravating circumstances and how many people had been
killed or injured.

Mobiles 'risky'

On the question of the "avoidable distraction" of using a mobile phone
they referred to the case of a lorry driver who veered off the road and
killed a man in a lay-by while sending a text message and who was jailed
for five years.

Lord Woolf said the court endorsed the statement made in the Court of
Appeal by Lord Justice Mance as he upheld that five-year term.

Lord Justice Mance had said: "The use of a mobile phone to read and
compose text messages while driving is a highly perilous activity." Any
use of a mobile by a driver was "self- evidently risky," he added.

Previously, falling asleep at the wheel has been seen as a mitigating
factor but the Appeal Court judges said that if a driver had made a
choice to continue on the road while feeling drowsy, he or she must
accept responsibility for that decision.

"Drivers do not normally fall asleep without warning and the proper
course of action for a motorist who feels drowsy is to stop driving and
rest," they said.

The court has said the basic offence of dangerous driving - without
causing death, but causing serious injury - should be increased from two
years to five years.

"Drivers must know that, if a person is killed as a result of their
driving dangerously, a custodial sentence will normally be imposed no
matter what the mitigating circumstances," said Lord Woolf.

Other aggravating features included consumption of drugs or alcohol,
greatly excessive speed, racing, competitive driving against another
driver, and driving a poorly maintained or dangerously loaded vehicle.
Mitigating circumstances would include good driving, genuine shock and
remorse and whether the defendant had been injured themselves.

'Clear message'

The sentence guidelines have been revised after advice from the
Sentencing Advisory Panel.

Mary Williams, chief executive of road safety charity Brake, said on
Thursday: "We welcome this ruling as acknowledgement of the huge dangers
posed by drivers who choose to drive when tired, or while using a mobile
phone. "It is ludicrous that, until now, drivers who have killed on the
road have been able to cite their own risk-taking as part of their
defence. "This sends a clear message to drivers that taking such risks
on the road is totally unacceptable."

The maximum sentence for death by dangerous driving has not been raised
above 10 years, because an offence of motor manslaughter existed which
carried a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.

The judges said that courts should bear in mind "how important it is to
drive home the message that dangerous driving has a potentially horrific

One of the cases involves the man who killed the step-brother of Atomic
Kitten star Liz McClarnon.

Neil Cook, from Liverpool, has had his sentence reduced from seven years
to six years for killing 17-year-old Mark Cook (no relation) in
September 2002.


Informant: Robert Riedlinger

Pollutions electromagnetique de notre environment-Risques

Dear Klaus,

I know you are in contact with Prof Santini, I read his book now (just
finished, great book) and I learned that he has a video movie
"Pollutions electromagnetique de notre environment-Risques
biologique-Radioprotection" 1996 Can you tell him that someone would
like to order it? I would like to know if I can order that from him.


Citizens' Initiative Omega

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