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Precautionary approach for cell phones needed

Green Party MP Sue Kedgley said New Zealand needs to take a precautionary approach to cell phones and take measures to lower the risk of exposure to them, including the possibility of health warnings, in the light of a new report recommending that England takes a precautionary approach to cell phone use.

This report follows a Swedish study released last week which links cell phones to an increased risk of brain tumours. The Stewart report, released in England today, said that although there was no firm evidence that cell phones damaged health, children should only use cell phones when there was no alternative.

"I think we have to be sensible about using cell phones; they should be for essential use only. Children have thinner skulls, smaller heads and their nervous systems are still developing, which makes them far more vulnerable to electro-magnetic radiation emitted mostly from the cell phone aerial."

Ms Kedgley said it was time for the New Zealand Standards Committee on Human Exposure to Electro-magnetic Fields to re-examine cell phone and cell tower standards, in the light of the Stewart report and the Swedish study.

"The committee have always said they would look again at our existing use of cell phones and placement of cell phone towers if new evidence arose," said Ms Kedgley.

"The public representative on our standards committee, independent expert Dr Neil Cherry, has collated more than 60 studies showing adverse health effects from electro-magnetic radiation.

"There is new evidence of health effects from cell phones coming out all the time. We can no longer pretend that the only effects are minor heating effects - yet this is the assumption that New Zealand standards are based on. The standards should be revised to be public health standards, recognising the possible harm that cell phones can do to our health."

Ms Kedgley said the government also needed to investigate whether cell phones should carry health warnings.

Sue Kedgley MP: 04 470 6728 or 025 270 9088 Gina Dempster, Press secretary: 04 470 6723 or 021 1265 289

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