It is hard to imagine life today without the mobile phone. Nearly four million mobile phones are sold each year. Today more than 90% of young people between 10 and 17 years of age have a mobile phone… But is intensive mobile phone use harmful to health in the long term or not?

A mobile phone can be used to do an increasing number of things: besides phoning and messaging, reading email, surfing the net and even watching mobile TV. The information (speech, text, images) is sent by radio waves: the mobile phone receives radio waves from the base station and transmits radio waves back to it.

We know that radio waves in the body are converted to heat and can imply a health risk as a result thereof. This is called the thermal effect.

Europe has established exposure limits to protect the health and safety of the user against thermal effect. There also exists a limit value for the radiation of mobile phones.

But even if the device complies with the legal standards, yet, it remains wise to use the mobile phone moderately. According to certain studies, there may be a higher risk of brain cancer when intensive use is made of mobile phones. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) therefore classified radio waves as “possibly carcinogenic to human beings”. In the section “Tips for prudent use” we explain what you can do to lower the exposure to mobile phone radiation. This can be achieved for example by the way you use your mobile phone, but also by buying a device with a low radiation value (SAR value). From the 1st of March 2014, sellers must display the SAR value with every mobile phone they sell, whether it be in a shop or via the Internet. The use of the mobile phone by children is a special point of attention.

Although the norms protect users against short term effects, some people experience health issues when using mobile phones or when they are in the vicinity of high voltage power lines and electric devices. This phenomenon is described in the section “Electromagnetic hypersensitivity”.

Our brochure “Mobile phone and health” (only available in Dutch and French) contains more information about the health risks of the mobile phone.