Mobile risk - return call 1

July 9, 2004

In your article "Review by peers 'good for science''' (News, June 25), the following appears: "In 1998, self-employed researcher Roger Coghill released research straight to the media saying that the waves produced by mobile phones could damage the activity of lymphocytes in the body's immune system.

"Over the next five years his claims, though contradicted by most other evidence, were cited in 119 news publications... Most made no reference to the unofficial status of the research paper or to the fact that other research disagreed."

The research you allege I presented was not only from our lab but also based on peer-reviewed studies later cited by the Stewart Committee in 2000 and showed that ten of 11 studies published before 1998 found elevated odds ratios when examining lymphatic and haemopoietic effects on people as a result of potential radio-frequency exposure at work or from hobbies. This previous body of evidence is what caused me to bring this matter to the public by means of a case under the Consumer Protection Act 1987.

Our own in vitro study of RF effects on lymphocytes was peer-reviewed and published in 2000, though it had appeared at a scientific conference before then. Subsequent media coverage centred on the court case.

As a result of this media attention, the Stewart Committee recommended that children be discouraged from cellphone use, that masts not be installed near schools and that a large research initiative (still in progress) be instituted.

In making these recommendations, the committee accepted four of the five suggestions from my laboratory.

It is not fair to represent me as a lone, self-employed researcher. My lab is staffed by chemists, physical chemists and physicists, as well as myself, a biologist by training.

By undermining this public action you are at risk of suggesting that excessive cellphone use is safe, when the matter is far from settled.

Roger Coghill
Coghill Research Laboratories

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