London: Mobile phones and computers with wireless internet connections pose a risk to human health and should be immediately banned in schools, a powerful European body has ruled.
A Council of Europe committee examined evidence that the technologies have "potentially harmful" effects on humans, and concluded that immediate action was required to protect children, `The Daily Telegraph` reported.
In its 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, 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 the wireless devices can cause cancers and harm developing brains.
The committee, composed of 84 MPs and politicians from member states in Europe, reviewed the latest research on the effects of electromagnetic fields and took fresh evidence from experts before reaching its conclusions. However, experts are divided on the issue.
Prof Les Barclay, the vice-chairman of the Mobile Telecommunications and Health Research Programme, said: "There is very little evidence at the moment for harmful effects. The powers that mobile phones emit are getting less and less."
But, Prof Paul Elliot of Imperial College London, who is leading a major international study of the long-term effects of mobile phone use on 200,000 people, said: "There
are potential questions about whether mobile phones might have cognitive effects and impact on sleep.
"Mobile phone technology is clearly incredibly beneficial and useful, but we have to weigh up those potential health effects, so it is responsible to do research on that."
A spokesperson for Powerwatch, a campaign group that aims to raise awareness of the risks from electromagnetic fields, said: "It is long past the time when governments all
around Europe should have started being more precautionary about these issues."