The National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia has announced that it will contribute 2.5 million dollars over the space of 5 years to researchers from the universities of Wollongong and Monash in order to set up a Centre of Research Excellence for Population Health Research on Electromagnetic Energy, so as to investigate the possible effects on the human body when exposed to the electromagnetic radiation from mobile phones.
A similar grant was awarded to the ICNIRP commissioner, Professor Rodney Croft, of the Illawarra Health and Medical Research Institute (IHMRI), a year ago to establish the Australian Centre for Electromagnetic Bioeffects Research.
Professor Croft stated that although the weak electromagnetic radiation from mobile phones has not been proven, due to a lack of evidence, to be detrimental to health, the data on this topic, especially with reference to children, is hardly enough to prove that it has no effect.
The aim of the project, as explained by Professor Croft, is to know if there is a connection between the radio emissions that devices such as mobile phones emit and health in general.
Professor Croft also said that with the presence of cellular devices almost everywhere, coupled with the fact that such digital technologies will play an enormous role in the future of mankind, research such as what is being conducted is crucial to satisfying the requirements of risk-assessment agencies such as the World Health Organization, which are constantly requesting further research into these areas.
A branch of the research will be the establishment of a sleep laboratory to observe how the signals from mobile phones affects the brains of young children during sleep. For this purpose, 108 children are being recruited by researchers, to begin tests in the coming year, during which they will be exposed to a mobile phone or a level of electromagnetic energy equal to that emitted by a mobile device, and the changes in their brain’s electronic activity monitored.
Professor Croft said that the researchers have no reason to believe that the emissions affect children and adults in different ways, but since the research into children has only been begun recently (in the last five years), the information gathered was hardly enough to be sure.
“We just don’t understand well enough the maturational phases that children go through, so it’s possible there’s greater sensitivity”, says Professor Croft.
In addition to this study the researchers will also attempt to unearth how electromagnetic energy from these radio frequencies interacts with the brain and its functions, possibly leading to addressing the risk of cancer.
The research will also be focused on proving wrong the criticism from certain activist groups, as well as looking into the effect of electromagnetic energy on people who say they have increased sensitivity to wireless signals.
International Standards bodies will be working with Professor Croft to draw up guidelines for electromagnetic safety, and policy makers will work with the Professor to develop more effective ways of keeping the public informed of the potential risks of mobile phone exposure.