Mobile phones and computers with wireless internet connections pose a risk to human health and should be banned from schools, a powerful European body has ruled. A Council of Europe committee examined evidence that the technologies (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/) have "potentially harmful" effects on humans, and concluded that immediate action was required to protect children
In a report, the committee said it was crucial to avoid repeating the mistakes made when public health officials were slow to recognise the dangers of asbestos, tobacco smoking and lead in petrol.
The report also highlighted the potential health risks of cordless telephones and baby monitors, which rely on similar technology and are widely used in British homes.
Fears have been raised that electromagnetic radiation emitted by wireless devices can cause cancers and affect the developing brain.The findings were seized on by campaigners who oppose the spread of wireless devices.
The committee concluded that member states should:
• Set thresholds for levels of long-term exposure to microwaves of the type emitted by mobile phones;
• Introduce clear labelling on products indicating the presence of electromagnetic fields and any health risks
associated with use;
• Ban all mobile phones (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/mobile-phones/) and wireless networks in
classrooms and schools;
• Run information campaigns aimed at children and young adults about the risks to human health;
• Step up research on less-dangerous types of antennae and mobile phones.
The Council of Europe, which has 47 member states and is based in Strasbourg, cannot impose its will on governments, but is highly influential in policy-making and has often seen its decisions enacted through conventions and treaties.
A draft resolution – calling on governments to "take all reasonable measures to reduce exposure to electromagnetic fields" from mobile phones and similar devices, including the ban in schools – was adopted unanimously by the organisation's Committee on the Environment, Agriculture and Local and Regional Affairs (http://assembly.coe.int/ASP/AssemblyList/Annuaire_03W_Committees.asp?ComID=6).
The committee is composed of 84 MPs and politicians from member states, and its vice- chairman is Lord Prescott, the former Deputy Prime Minister. Its members reviewed the latest research on the effects of electromagnetic fields and took fresh evidence from experts before reaching its conclusions.
The draft resolution will now go before the council's full Parliamentary Assembly for approval.
Click here for full Telegraph report, May 2011
Click here for Council of Europe final news release, May 2011
Click here for Council of Europe full report, May 2011