Multi-million dollar study into health effects of mobile phones

Researchers from the University of Wollongong (UOW) and Monash University are set to embark on a multi-million dollar study to investigate the long-term health effects of mobile phone use.

Professor Rodney Croft, from the Illawarra Health and Medical Research Institute (IHMRI), will work in conjunction with Monash University to establish a Centre of Research Excellence for Population Health Research on Electromagnetic Energy after the National Health and Medical Research Council announced a $2.5 million grant on Wednesday (21 August).

“While there is currently no clear evidence that low-level electromagnetic energy is impacting our health, there is not enough information, particularly relating to children, to be sure that it doesn’t,” Professor Croft said.

“The ubiquity of mobile phones coupled with the fact that digital technology will play a huge role in our future means this research is critical, with risk assessment agencies such as the World Health Organisation consistently calling for further research to ensure that we identify any potential risks.”

Through his affiliation with IHMRI, Professor Croft will be able to draw upon the skills of multi-disciplinary teams of academic researchers at UOW and clinician researchers around the region to solve problems and challenges along the way.

“You can only address these big health issues through a multi-disciplinary approach,” Professor Croft said.

“In practice, it means bringing cancer researchers together with psychologists, epidemiologist and technical experts from disparate areas and viewpoints, which ultimately leads to new insights and solutions.”

Professor Croft is already trying to determine the mechanisms by which electromagnetic energy, which is also emitted through radio frequencies, interacts with brain function.

Further research will look at the effects of electromagnetic energy on children and whether they are more sensitive to it than adults, as well as addressing cancer risks and the role of electromagnetic energy in those who report specific sensitivity.

Professor Croft will also be working with international standards bodies to develop electromagnetic energy guidelines and with policy makers on better communicating potential risks to the public.

In August 2012, Professor Croft became the first UOW researcher to lead a Centre for Research Excellence, with the Federal Minister for Health, Tanya Plibersek, announcing a $2.5 million grant to enable him to establish an Australian Centre for Electromagnetic Bioeffects Research over the next five years.

IHMRI Executive Director, Professor Mike Calford, said the fact that Professor Croft has won two Centre for Research Excellence grants within the space of one year is a major achievement.

“That IHMRI can play a role in addressing these major public health concerns reflects our role and ambition, which is to bring academic and clinician researchers together to improve the health of local residents through research excellence,” Professor Calford said.

  • UOW researchers are part of a multi-million dollar study to investigate the health effects of long term mobile phone use.

  • Professor Rodney Croft will lead a team of UOW researchers under the grant, which is administered by Monash University.