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United Kingdom Communications Medicine Stats Wireless Networking

11-Year UK Study Reports No Health Danger From Mobile Phone Transmissions 180

Mark.JUK writes "The United Kingdom's 11-years long Mobile Telecommunications and Health Research Programme (MTHR) has today published a comprehensive report that summarizes 31 research projects, which investigated the potential for biological or adverse health effects of mobile phone and wireless signals on humans (e.g. as a cause for various cancers or other disorders). The good news is that the study, which has resulted in nearly 60 papers appearing in peer-reviewed scientific journals, found 'no evidence' of a danger from mobile transmissions in the typically low frequency radio spectrum bands (e.g. 900MHz and 1800MHz etc.)."
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11-Year UK Study Reports No Health Danger From Mobile Phone Transmissions

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  • I agree. If I say so, then it must be true!

  • by inasity_rules ( 1110095 ) on Thursday February 13, 2014 @04:12AM (#46236233) Journal

    So, 900MHz is the new LF band. Now where did I put my 2m VHF handheld...?

  • It doesn't matter. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SuricouRaven ( 1897204 ) on Thursday February 13, 2014 @04:18AM (#46236257)

    Scares usually persist long after any scientific backing is gone. Look at anti-vax, for example - the one study showing a link between vaccines and autism has not only been discredited but exposed as an outright fraud by a doctor who was paid to produce specific results. Yet the anti-vax movement continues to believe in the connection regardless. Or the abortion-breast-cancer link - originating in a study which misinterpreted results due to the lack of a true control group and now rejected by just about every reputable cancer-related organisation. Yet, once again, belief in the link remains widespread in the pro-life movement - largely because they wish it were true. This is the same thing again - it doesn't matter how many studies show no adverse effects, we're still going to see a lot of people claiming wireless networks gives them a migraine and worrying about phone-induced cancer.

    • by ledow ( 319597 ) on Thursday February 13, 2014 @04:37AM (#46236305) Homepage

      A determined idiot can be an almost unresolvable roadblock.

      It doesn't mean we should stop beating sense into them, though. I find it much more scary that something like 50% of Americans believe that astrology has some effect on their life... at least these people are basing their prejudices on something that appeared (for a while, in a modern environment) scientifically plausible.

      Sorry, but until we can eliminate the UFO-believers( and the astrologers and palm-readers and the conspiracy theorists, and whole swathes of others) we don't stand a chance of having no misinformation being spread by idiots about health-scares.

      Go ask people about swimming on a full stomach. Then find out the truth (it makes no difference!). We're in the Misinformation Age.

      • and yet you are one of those people. i often see comments about swimming on full stomach here (i'd say from people who either don't swim or eat). if you want to know why it's stupid, eat and drink until you're full, go to bed, lie down on your belly and wait for a burp to come. if you don't barf, you're not human. to better simulate swimming, you should have somebody shake you at the same time.

        BTW, I swim for an hour 4 times a week and have seen this full stomach swimming way too often. when you see a perso

        • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 13, 2014 @07:28AM (#46236733)

          Some of us have strong enough stomach valve muscles to be able to be horizontal on a full stomach.

          Some of us can't handle fast blinking reddish lights. Some people get sea sick or puke when watching 1st person shooters. Others puke when people near them puke (an evolutionary good idea if you're all eating the same food and someone gets sick). Some people sneeze when you flash a light in their face. Humans have very few magnetic sensitive cells but we do have some. If someone says he can feel when he's facing north no matter the time of day there's reason to believe him. Just because something is rare doesn't mean it can't happen. Some people have allergic reactions to light.

          It's not hard to believe that a few people can be affected by every new tech we created. It's unlikely that many people are affected by most radio spectrum bands, but I'd bet money that someone out of the 7 billion people on the planet does have some type of issue. It's even more believable when you learn that your heart responses to different radio frequencies by beating differently:

          People need to keep their minds open. It's an interesting world and we know very little about how it all works.

          • Please mod parent up, sadly out of mod points today.
          • "It's not hard to believe"... but there's no evidence that it is the case, and copious evidence otherwise.

          • My wife worked at the Toronto general for a few years. During her stay she did care on dozens of girls between the ages of 15 - 18 that all had brain tumours. Of all of these girls most were heavy cell phone users. This at the time had prompted these observations to be submitted to a university (don't remember which one). Now, this could have been a complete coincidence since girls of that age usually do spend lots of time on their phones.

        • by Mashdar ( 876825 ) on Thursday February 13, 2014 @10:42AM (#46237751)

          1) You must burp a lot more than I do. It's unusual if I burp twenty times in a week unless I've been drinking beer. (The other end is another matter, but I eat a LOT of beans!)

          2) I frequently eat until the next helping would make me sick. It's slightly pathological, but useful for this conversation.

          3) I have never once noticed a problem with burping in bed. Maybe I just don't burp enough?

          4) In college I used to swim for at least 30 minutes daily, and I literally never had a problem with a full stomach (again, perhaps I don't burp enough?). I don't recall anyone else in the lap pool stopping suddenly, but I am not particularly observant, especially with my face under water.

          5) The myth about swiming on a full stomach is that you will have a cramp and drown. It has nothing to do with being sick. GP was refering to that myth, and your comment has nothing to do with it.

        • by geekoid ( 135745 )

          Every thanksgiving millions of people eat way to much, lie down, and then don't barf.

          You are either really, really stupid, or a liar.

          I used to swim a lot. AS in hours everyday. IN the ocean and pools. I played water polo, surfed, and been a life guard.

        • I believe he was referencing the notion that you shouldn't go swimming on a full stomach because you'll get cramps and drown, which has been thoroughly debunked, yet continues to persist as something mothers pass down to their children. There may be other valid reasons for not going swimming on a full stomach, such as the one you cited, but the commonly-reported reason for that piece of advice is related to cramps, not upset stomachs.

      • by Welsh Dwarf ( 743630 ) <d,mills-slashdot&guesny,net> on Thursday February 13, 2014 @06:26AM (#46236525) Homepage

        > I find it much more scary that something like 50% of Americans believe that astrology has some effect on their life...

        But it does, it's called the placebo effect!

      • by jc42 ( 318812 )

        I find it much more scary that something like 50% of Americans believe that astrology has some effect on their life...

        But it does; reading astrological "information" wastes lifespan that could have been used to read something informative and increasing your knowledge of the world. That's time that you can't ever get back.

      • Yes by all means lets get rid of those conspiracy theorists. []

    • Do people still think cell phones cause gas pumps to explode? Some of my early cell phones had warnings about that in their manuals.

      • What have we got to lose by acting as if it's true?

        • Intelligence?

          Seriously, the thing that causes gas pumps to explode is static electricity, usually from entering and exiting your car. While everyone is worried about cell phones, how many people make sure to touch their car with bare hands before pumping?

      • by MrMickS ( 568778 )

        There are still signs around the all of the pumps here banning use of a cell phone in a filling station. The current reasons is because they could cause a spark. Is there any evidence of this, or is it another feeling that's become true by repetition?

        • There are still signs around the all of the pumps here banning use of a cell phone in a filling station. The current reasons is because they could cause a spark. Is there any evidence of this, or is it another feeling that's become true by repetition?

          Well, as they say... no smoke without fire :p

        • Is there any evidence of this,

          if the vapour was over the LEL and the battery was removed ( fell out when dropped ) you may be able to cause ignition.

          • Is there any evidence of this,

            if the vapour was over the LEL and the battery was removed ( fell out when dropped ) you may be able to cause ignition.

            Ah, that Steve Jobs. Always looking out for us.

        • Literally 10 seconds of googling found this: []

          When I did some RF stuff at college, they talked about the possibility of a spark coming off a (high) power antenna if various other factors all came into play at the same time (intuitively it makes sense - you've got a whole lot of energy in the antenna, which you're providing an easy release for). I assume it to be true, although I've never seen it (because I don't do any RF work to speak of).

          I'd imagine that way-back-in-the-day

          • by geekoid ( 135745 )

            There is a voltage differential between a car and the neg of a cell phone, you can have spark.

            " I seriously doubt they were safe in the longer term"
            You would be wrong. We do understand the physics.

        • The Mythbusters tests this awhile back and couldn't replicate it at all. Now, I know they aren't "a scientific study", but they actually tried the best case scenarios and couldn't get it to work. You are more at risk if you set the pump up, go back into your car, get out of your car (thus building up a static charge), and then touch metal near the gas pump as it is being removed.

        • by PPH ( 736903 )

          And the source of that spark was the possibility of someone dropping a cell phone and the battery shorting out. Particularly back in the old days, phones (DynaTac 'bricks' for example), had quite sizable batteries. And the area up to 18 inches above the ground around a gas pump is considered to be an explosion hazard area due to accumulated vapor. So dropping something like a cell phone was determined, by analysis, to be a possible hazard.

      • I remember seeing this explained somewhere that it's not that a cell phone makes the pump explode it's that if you touch your gas tank and have a lot of excess static electricity the pump explodes, and if you shock a gas tank on purpose you will blow it up. While a normal phone should not cause a static charge that would lead to an explosion, it's conceivable that some phone somewhere was malfunctioning leading to this "myth." Just like how, given all the people electrocuted while on their phone recently,

        • One thing to keep in mind. A car is a big static electricity generator.
          • Eh I'm not so sure about that. IANAE (I am not an electrician). However wouldn't any static created by the car discharge as you're getting out of the car (or at least there should be no difference in potential between you and the car)?

            • by dbIII ( 701233 )

              However wouldn't any static created by the car discharge as you're getting out of the car

              Yes, right into the spilled fuel next to the pumps as it's stepped into. Such a static electricity discharge must happen several times a day if considered globally.

              What we have here with the phones is electrical safety standards for other devices near fuel being applied as a blanket rule. Static electricity never came into it.

            • Not usually. Most people's shoes are quite good insulators. The car discharges when you touch it with the metal filling hose. The problem is that YOU don't always discharge before the gas starts flowing. It takes a few things to go wrong at the same time but it has cussed explosions. There has never been a reliable report of a cell phone causing such a thing.

            • Rubber tires, rubber shoes, both insulators, no clear path to ground except the negative terminal on the battery is
              attached to the frame.

      • by dbIII ( 701233 )
        I think it's Italy where people pay at the pump using their mobile phones. That was a few years back so it's probably more widespread.
      • by Mashiki ( 184564 )

        Do people still think cell phones cause gas pumps to explode? Some of my early cell phones had warnings about that in their manuals.

        I don't think that a cell phone would cause a gas pump to explode, but let's say static discharge or a faulty battery cell could. Just as much as someone with a pickup truck that has a plastic liner could cause the same thing. Or you could, should the fumes in the air be sufficient and the grounding wire from the pump had failed.

      • by Bengie ( 1121981 )

        Do people still think cell phones cause gas pumps to explode? Some of my early cell phones had warnings about that in their manuals.

        It's highly unlikely at the powers involved with cell phones, but have you have put tin foil in the microwave? Many cell phones operate in the microwave range. Last I checked, most vehicles are more out of metal.

    • by MrMickS ( 568778 )

      The problem about not believing this sort of report is that there will always be some pseudo scientific journalism piece that will highlight a leukaemia cluster [], or similar, near a phone mast. The fact that it doesn't happen around all, or a significant number, of phone masts won't make the piece. The conclusions will be incorrectly drawn that there is no smoke without fire and that the cause must be the phone mast, regardless of the fact there there are many other factors influencing these people and its l

    • by jhol13 ( 1087781 )

      Vaccinations ... Finland is in trouble. One (Pig Flu 2009) vaccination provably caused several cases (more than ten) of narcolepsia.
      Now, understandably, people are frightened to get any vaccinations, especially for Pig flu. Unfortunately totally unrelated vaccinations (MMR, HPV) are also opposed.

    • Yes, plenty of studies have be mistaken or even outright fraudulent. But you somehow expect us to believe one side of fraudulent studies over the other side? Look at all the government food recommendations that are being discovered to be unhealthy. Just yesterday I was listening to the radio when they were discussing recent studies that have noticed a correlation between people who drink skim milk getting overweight while people who drink whole milk don't. The recommendation is that kids over 2 should drink

      • by geekoid ( 135745 )

        Learn how to read the study, look at the Bayesian probability, look at other studies.

        " I don't have the time, or the interest, to do that for everything I learn about."
        Fine, but shut up about what you clearly know nothing about.

        • You are simply an asshole, that is pretty obvious.

          The point is that if everyone has to do their own studies of the studies then there is no reason to have scientists doing the studies and giving reports. You can't trust any of them as they are all paid by some industry or are shilling for something. I'm not going to trust any number of studies from industry when it goes against my first hand experience. You can look at all the studies you want about how safe tobacco is for you and die your own horrible litt

    • by skids ( 119237 )

      We are having to face this at work. In order to upgrade our WiFi network to 11ac we are going to have to double the number of APs and put many of them inside dormatory rooms. Despite current lack of evidence as to any health effects (notwithstanding placing the AP 2 feet from where your head is when you sleep, which is against official recommendations and we plan to make impossible,) housing will probably offer people an option as to whether they prefer one of the rooms that does not have them, or at leas

  • by ctrl-alt-canc ( 977108 ) on Thursday February 13, 2014 @05:39AM (#46236423)
    I looked briefly to some of the reports published by MTHR, and it seems to me that there is a fundamental flaw (pretty much common to many studies published on this topic). The absorbed dose from the tissues is proportional to the transmitter power. Now the transmission power of handeld devices (like GSM) depends from the received SNR at the BTS: actually a negotiation about the power to use takes place between the BTS and the handeld device to limit the transmission power, so that batteries of the handeld unit last more and interference to neighbour BTS cells is reduced. IIRC power can be varied between 1 milliwatt and 8 watt, i.e. three orders of magnitude. If this enormous variation of the radiated power (and of the absorbed dose) hasn't been taken into account in the study (as I suspect), the research conclusions are very questionable.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      It's still non-ionizing radiation. Be as skeptical as you want. The rest of us will just point and laugh.

      • But it is an invisible thing that he doesn't understand. Don't interfere with his panic attack with reason or logic. Fear of what you can't see is a cornerstone of our society. Never mind the EM radiation coming out of his (probably 2GHz) computer. Or the wifi. Or, the X-rays from the sun. These aren't relevant, cell phones are evil cancer causing devices!

      • You probably lack some knowledge about effects of EM fields on tissues. The damage possibly caused by RF fields generated by mobile phone is due to heathing, not to ionization.
        BTW, most of the damage caused to tissues exposed to high doses of ionizing radiation is still due to heathing. Damage due to chemical effects caused by ionization and to DNA damage appear later in those who received exposure to ionizing radiation.
        • Actually if there's one thing we can agree on, it's that thermal effects are not the cause of the problem. The energies involved are vanishingly low; holding your hand near your face has more of an impact on its heating than holding a phone there.

      • by dbIII ( 701233 ) on Thursday February 13, 2014 @07:24AM (#46236723)
        Before you laugh you need to add the words "low intensity" (which this most definitely is) since high intensity non-ionizing radiation is a known hazard. Enough to make you warm by induction alone (which is a hell of a lot of RF) is a big problem and that's why the really dangerous stuff gets shielded before anyone is expected to work near it. Faulty shielding in some RF welders for plastic seams caused quite a few miscarriages in one factory a few decades ago.
        Still don't believe me? Microwave ovens use non-ionizing radiation. Several orders of magnitude more than if you had your head stuffed in the transmitting dish from one of these towers, but it's the intensity and not the type of radiation that divides safe as background from cooked in two minutes.
      • Yep it's non-ionizing. So is the heat in an incinerator. So you wouldn't mind if I stick you into one then?

        There are other ways to cause harm than just ionizing radiation.

        • Yes, please do stick me into a 2W incinerator. In fact, you might need to turn up the heat a couple of orders of magnitude just to keep my warm. See, I have a 1200W incinerator below my desk. It keeps my feet warm when the 14kW incinerator that blows radiated air into my office can't quite keep up with the temps outside and the poor building insulation.

        • I've stuck my arm in 700C furnaces without harm, and they're putting out about a million times the thermal energy of your cell phone.

          • Your cell phone should not be putting out any thermal energy. The battery and other electronics might put out some as a side effect, but it is undesired. In the end none of that matters one bit. What matters is what happens to the brain cells. When you get a high temperature it only takes a rise of a few degrees before the brain is dead. If the radiation put out from the phone causes a rise in temperature then there is a problem even though there is no ionizing radiation. I am not worried about it as I stil
    • IIRC power can be varied between 1 milliwatt and 8 watt,

      You may be recalling incorrectly. The car phones from the 80's maxed out at 3W. According to this

      The transmission power in the handset is limited to a maximum of 2 watts in GSM 850/900 and 1 watt in GSM 1800/1900

      The 8Watts seems a bit high. Most handsets max out at about .3 Watts to conserve battery power.

    • Just like the flawed science in climate change and evolution.

      The difference between conservatives and liberals with science is that conservatives refuse that something will be bad for them vs liberals refuse to believe that something new is not harming them.

      They are both refusing to believe science because it messes up their world view.

      • by dbIII ( 701233 )
        They are not "conservatives". That's just the sugar coating so that the travelling medicine show scam tweaked into dumbed down Christianity can hide that it is about control and hatred instead of anything Jesus spoke about. They see biologists, geologists and climatologists as hated enemies getting in the way of their rubbish about an unchanging earth - and they've lumped in the rest of science in as fellow travellers.
        Bit of a rant, but that's what we are facing.
  • Grain of Salt (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sociocapitalist ( 2471722 ) on Thursday February 13, 2014 @08:40AM (#46237023)

    How many studies were there that showed that smoking wasn't bad for your health?

    It would be interesting to know who funded all the referenced studies, as well.

  • The "typically low frequency radio spectrum bands (e.g. 900MHz and 1800MHz etc.)" of which the submitter speaks, are solidly in the Ultra High Frequency band, which ranges from 300–3000 MHz. He many have meant to say "low-power," which is very true but different altogether.
    • No - you're confusing radio bands with the actual EM radiation spectrum. That's low frequency for EMR - in the 10^4 um range on this chart: [] which is pretty far in the low end. Considering these are medical studies, they would look at the bands of EMR across the whole spectrum. Consider that calling these "Ultra High" seems a misnomer given that medical radiation often concerns x ray wavelengths.

      And, yes, they're low power too.

  • by Nightlight3 ( 248096 ) on Thursday February 13, 2014 @11:42AM (#46238289)

    This "study" is meta-junk-science about other meta and non-meta junk science (epidemiology) contracted by the telecom industry & regulators (i.e. the future & former industry consultants). As they acknowledge in the report, experiments are left for the future research.

    I would like to see animal experiments replicating typical exposures of someone keeping the phone in their pocket or on their head all day. Or teens talking on the phone for hours day after day. Also model of pregnant woman having the phone inches away from the fetus throughout pregnancy. The animal studies should also follow test and control groups for the whole lifespans of animals (e.g. lab mice and rats live only 2-3 years so it shouldn't be a big problem).

    Another aspect, also left for future research, are the effects of mobile & Wi-Fi exposures on large organic molecules in the cells. This is very relevant since such molecules have photon frequencies (or energies) of various quantum transitions (e.g. those involved in protein folding or enzyme actions) in the GHz frequency ranges. Resonances with such molecular processes could have more subtle and narrow effects (e.g. on some cognitive and immune functions) for which epidemiology and even animal experiments are much too blunt to detect.

  • Because the people who suffer from phobias over imaginary radiation-caused diseases are considered to be suffering from deleterious effects to their health just as if they had an actual physiological symptom.

  • While the higher frequency transmissions of cellphones appear to carry no serious health risks, the number of emergency room visits from movie theater texters will surely continue to rise!

COMPASS [for the CDC-6000 series] is the sort of assembler one expects from a corporation whose president codes in octal. -- J.N. Gray