The UK Chief Medical Officers strongly advise that children and teenagers under 16 should not use mobile phones except for short essential calls.
The European Parliament voted in September 2008 by a very large majority to recommend tighter safety standards for mobile phones and other wireless technology (including wi-fi and DECT cordless phones) particularly to protect vulnerable groups like children. It points out in particular the need to “address vulnerable groups such as pregnant women, newborn babies and children”
The Parliament commented on the Bio-Initiative international report and stated that:
“the limits on exposure to electromagnetic fields which have been set for the general public are obsolete” and called upon the Council to “set stricter exposure limits for all equipment which emits electromagnetic waves …”
The German government’s health protection agency recommends the public reduce their exposure to high frequency radiation to minimise health risks. It recommends:
• remove cordless DECT phones
• use cabled connections rather than wifi and bluetooth
• site wi-fi access points away from people, including at work
The Frankfurt City Government and the Bavarian Parliament have recommended against installation of wi-fi in schools.
The French government has announced that it is introducing legislation to ban advertising of mobile phones to children under 14. The French Senate is also pressing for a ban on the use of mobile phones in primary and middle schools.
Over the Christmas period 2008/9, the French city of Lyon ran an advertising campaign to dissuade parents from buying mobile phones for their children:
French national libraries (BNF) has imposed a moratorium on wi-fi networks in French libraries following a moratorium in Paris libraries after staff reported ill effects.
A town in France (Hérouville-Saint-Clair) is removing wi-fi networks from all its schools before the end of the 2009. “We are going to apply the precautionary principle. Our job is to protect people’s health,” declared the mayor Rodolphe Thomas in April 2009. The council is also launching a campaign to inform the public about precautions for protection from radiation
The Russian National Committee on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection, with the the equivalent role of our Health Protection Agency, has expressed concern at the marketing of mobile phones to children and teenagers and has stated that it believes that the risk to children from mobile phones is not much lower than the risk to children’s health from tobacco or alcohol.
The Committee explains this high potential risk as follows:
• the absorption of electro-magnetic energy in a child’s head is considerably higher than that in the head of an adult (a child’s brain has higher conductivity, smaller size, thin skull bones, smaller distance from the antenna etc.)
• children are more sensitive to electro-magnetic fields than adults
• childrens’ brains have higher sensitivity to the accumulation of the adverse effects from chronic exposure to the electro-magnetic fields
• electro-magnetic fields affect higher nervous activity
• today’s children will spend a longer time using mobile phones than today’s adults will do
The Committee states that children mobile phone users are likely to face the following hazards in the near future:
• disruption of memory
• decline of attention
• diminishing learning and cognitive abilities
• increased rritability
• sleep problems
• increase in sensitivity to stress
• increased epileptic readiness
It states that children have the following possible long-term health risks:
• brain tumors
• tumors of acoustical and vestibular nerves (at age 25-30)
• Alzheimer’s disease
• depressive syndrome
• other types of degeneration of the nervous structures of the brain (at age 50 to 60).
The Indian Ministry of Telecommunication has recommended that children under the age of 16 should be discouraged from using cell phones
The Israeli Ministry of Health has recommended limiting children’s use of cell phones, avoidance of cellular communication in enclosed places such as elevators and trains, and use of wired, not wireless, earpieces.
The Finnish Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (STUK) has advised that children’s mobile phone use should be restricted.
The Authority says that children will have more time to use a mobile phone for a longer period of time than adults. The long-term risks from the use of mobile phones can not be assessed before the phones have been in use for several decades. Additionally, children’s brains are developing up to the age of 20 years.
“With children, we have reason to be especially careful, because there is not enough research on children’s mobile phone use. Unfortunately, it will not be easy to obtain this information in the future, either, because of ethical considerations, the use of children as research subjects must always be heavily justified”, according to STUK research director Sisko Salomaa.
The Authority suggests that the children’s mobile phone use could be restricted in the following ways:
• favouring the use of text messages rather than calls,
• parents limiting the number of calls and their duration,
• using hands-free devices
• avoiding talking in an area with low connectivity or in a moving car or a train.