Radiation authority advises moderation in use of mobile phones by children
The Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (STUK) urges families to put limits on the use of mobile telephones by children.
Research has not shown that the radiation emitted by mobile phones would pose a risk to health, but Sisko Salomaa, head of research at STUK, says that not all of the effects of radiation are known.
“With children, we need to observe special caution, because there is not sofficient knowledge on the use of mobile phones by children”, Salomaa says.
No new alarming information has emerged, but STUK is nevertheless advising parents on the matter as a precaution.
Already in 2004, STUK and the other Nordic radiation authorities issued instructions on how to minimise possible risks linked with the use of mobile telephones.
International standards for radiation emissions from mobile telephones contain safety margins that are so wide that they protect children as well, Salomaa says.
“However, children will end up using mobile telephones for a longer time than others, and we do not have any final information on the risks of long-term use”, Salomaa says.
She adds that there is no need to completely forbid children from using mobile phones, which can enhance their safety.
Studies have shown that exposure to radiation from a mobile telephone being held to the ear of an 8-year-old child is about twice the level of that of adults, owing to the fact that children have thinner skulls and more flexible outer ear.
The advanced motile phones that are now on the market expose the user to much less radio frequency radiation than the telephones of the old NMT standard did.
Maximum radiation emissions from phones using the GSM network have declined to about a tenth of the previous level.
Under current standards, the use of a mobile phone can raise the temperature of the surface of the brain by up to 0.3 degrees. A temperature increase of five degrees is required before cells are damaged.
Population studies have not indicated that there would be any health risks involved with the use of mobile telephones.
However, some assessments have suggested that those who have used mobile phones for more than ten years could be at greater risk than others of getting a brain tumour.
As it takes years for cancers to develop, the possibility that a connection between the use of mobile phones and cancer cannot be ruled out.
Precautionary measures include favouring SMS messages over voice calls, and placing restrictions on the number of calls a child can make, and on their duration.
Children can also be instructed on how to use hands-free devices, which considerably reduce radiation exposure to the head, or to keep the handset a few centimetres from the ear.
Radiation levels are lower in areas with good reception.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Volunteers exposed to cell phone radiation in STUK experiment (9.3.2006)
Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority finds cellphones can alter cells (19.4.2002)
Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority, Finland (STUK)