Mobile phones - Frequently asked question

This page contains frequently asked questions on mobile phones.

Can I get cancer from using my mobile phone?

In 2011, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (part of the World Health Organisation) classified radiofrequency electromagnetic fields ('microwave emissions'), such as those emitted by mobile phones, as possibly carcinogenic to humans (IARC Group 2B). This classification was based on an increased risk for glioma, a malignant type of brain cancer, associated with mobile phone use. 

This classification means that there may be an increased risk of cancer associated with mobile phone use, especially for people who use the phone for long periods of time (30 minutes or more) each day. However, evidence is still limited at this stage and further research is required. 

Due to the possible health risk, it is prudent to limit exposure to microwave emissions from mobile phone use where practical. 

How can I limit exposure to microwave emissions from mobile phones?

Ways of reducing exposure include:

  • using land-line phones with cords where practicable, especially for long calls;   
  • making fewer mobile phone calls;  
  • spending minimal time on mobile phone calls;   
  • texting instead of calling;  
  • using the loudspeaker setting on the mobile phone and holding the phone away from the head and body;   
  • using a mobile phone which does not have the antenna in the handset;    
  • retrieving voice mail messages on landline phones;   
  • using 'hands free' vehicle mobile phone kits (ideally while parked – see 3);   
  • using a wired ear piece with electromagnetic radiation shielding;   
  • holding the phone away from your ear;    
  • buying mobile phones with lower power outputs;   
  • selecting a handpiece design that uses effective shielding technology; and    
  • keeping the mobile phone away from your head while sleeping.

Not all of these ways are proven and new technology is being developed all the time which may reduce exposure.

What if I need to use my mobile phone for work while driving? 

It is illegal to use a hand-held mobile phone while driving.  Even using a 'hands free' mobile phone while driving has been shown to increase the risk of crashing four-fold. Allow incoming calls to go to message bank and retrieve them when you stop driving. Never make calls or send text messages while driving.

What other risks do mobile phones pose in a workplace? 

Hand-held mobile phones should not be used in a workplace where they may pose a safety risk.  For example: 

  • where use may interfere with equipment in hospitals and aircraft;   
  • in potentially explosive atmospheres, including blasting operations and fuelling areas such as petrol stations;   
  • hospital workers’ mobile phones have been shown to frequently be highly contaminated with bacteria and may increase infection rates if not regularly cleaned; and     
  • pedestrians using a mobile phone have an increased risk of being injured. 

Where can I find further information?  

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