Scientists probing concerns about health risks posed by mobile phones and their base stations, have discounted a theory suggesting low power radiowaves interact with living cells.
If the research had found evidence that the signal interacted with cells it would have been a major breakthrough in the understanding of how radiowaves, similar to those used by mobile phones, could lead to health effects.
Gemma Yarwood, a cell and molecular biologist at the Health Protection Agency, presented the findings at the HPA’s annual conference at the University of Warwick.
“While we cannot rule out the possibility of health effects from mobile phones, at least we can feel confident that they could not occur in this way,” she said.
The research involved the testing of a theoretical interaction mechanism suggesting that living cells possess nonlinear electrical properties. If they did, then there would be evidence of ‘frequency doubling’, whereby cells exposed at one frequency would generate a signal at double that frequency. The cells would, in effect, be acting as radio receivers.
Scientists from the HPA’s Centre for Radiation, Chemical and Environmental Hazards, Radiation Effects Department, carefully tested 500 samples of 17 different kinds of cell using very sensitive equipment.
But the researchers, who were funded by the Mobile Telecommunications and Health Research programme and who worked with colleagues from the Universities of Bradford and Maryland, found no evidence of nonlinearity. If they had found evidence of this interaction it may have paved the way to understanding how such signals could cause health effects.
Gemma concluded: “Public concerns about health risks mean that the search for a biological interaction mechanism should continue.”
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