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National centre for disease control calls for rational debate on mobile phones

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Health and Family Services >

media release

NHton«l Centre ftx D isease ConVOt GPO Box 9649 Canberra ACT 2601 Telephone: (02) 6289 7011 Fax: (02) 6289 6963

6 January, 1998


Dr Cathy Mead, Head o f the National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) in the Commonwealth Department of Health and Family Services, has called for a more rational debate on the health effects of Electromagnetic Energy (EME) and the use of mobile phones.

Dr Mead said today that Australia was in the forefront o f research into the health effects o f EME and labelled small scale, ad hoc research findings which are presented by some doctors as authoritative research projects as unnecessarily alarmist.

“The findings of ad hoc research on small population groups cannot achieve conclusive results and only cause unwarranted concern within the community,” she said.

‘T o r more than a year several Federal Government Departments have been working together on an interdepartmental EM E Public Health Issues Committee comprising representatives o f the Department of Health and Family Services, Department of Communications and the Arts, the Australian Radiation Laboratory, the Therapeutic Goods Administration, CSIRO and the

Australian Communications Authority.

“This committee examines the public health issues arising from electromagnetic radiation from communications equipment and draws on research and information from Australia and around the world.

“As a result o f the work o f this Committee, Australia has committed considerable resources for research into any suggested links between EME and public health,” Dr Mead said.

This includes

* $4 million allocated to the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) for research projects into health issues that might be associated with EME, focussing on mobile phones. Expressions of interest closed in December last year and the projects chosen will be announced within the next few months;

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* Australia's involvement in a WHO, 5 year worldwide research project which is seeking to resolve the issue o f health effects o f electromagnetic fields. This collaborative research project will include epidemiological studies with case control studies o f selected head and neck tumours.

“While there is no substantiated evidence at this stage o f any major health effects resulting from the use o f mobile phones or exposure to EME, we in Australia are continuing to be involved in medical research which is comprehensive, o f global significance and which will stand up to peer review,” Dr Mead said

“This calibre o f research is the only credible way of ensuring that the widespread use o f mobile phones is not having an adverse affect on people.”

The EM E Public Health Issues Committee has produced a number of Fact Sheets on various aspects o f EME and mobile phones, including any perceived health implications, for the information o f the public. These are updated when new information becomes available.

They can be obtained by phoning: (02) 6271 1000 or on the internet on www,, au/responsi/eme.hmil

M edia inquiries: K ay McNiece, Public Health M edia Unit, Dept. Health and Family Services, (02)6289 6996.