Long-term term effects on human health of the use of mobile telephones will probably not be known for another ten or 20 years, according to a top research scientist.
The comments were made by UK professor Peter Excell, a top research scientist involved in an EU-funded R&D project looking into the dangers of mobile phones.
They follow a management meeting for the Cephos project earlier this month to co-ordinate studies being conducted by eight universities and other academic institutions. The meeting found that progress on research is behind schedule for the drawing of first conclusions this October, Excell said.
"It may take ten or 20 years to find out if there is an effect or not, that is the way epidemiology works. It takes time," said Excell, who is physicist from Bradford University's engineering department working on phone technology.
"At present there is conflicting evidence on the dangers mobile phones pose to humans. It is a tiny amount of radiation, much less than a microwave, but we have to be certain that there are no side effects," he said.
Excell said one of the main problems in doing this type of study is that there is no measure of how often people use their phones in the day, how long they spend talking on them and how long they are switched on for, he said.
The Cephos project, funded in the EU's Fourth Framework Programme, hopes to come up with a device that will log the exact usage of a phone.
"There are ideas to produce cellphones with data logging so that we can measure the use they are put to in a day or a week," he said.
European Commission officials said it doesn't expect a verdict on the dangers of mobile phones for some time, possibly in two or three years at the earliest.
"The problem is nobody has much research on the long term effects, because the area is new. It is something that you cannot avoid. All we can do is to fund research and as soon as somebody finds something we can release the information," an official said.
"For the time being nobody has found that they are dangerous. By that I mean that we have not seen an increase in diseases in countries with high mobile phone use such as Finland and Italy," he said.
"We try to bring scientists together and find out what can be done and hope that within two to three years we have some data that is useful," he said.
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