They are both fashion accessories and an essential part of our lives. Yet since they first became widely available in the 1990s, there have been nagging doubts about just how safe they are.
Could they cause cancers in the brain? Does living near a mobile phone mast raise your risk of other cancers? Despite official reassurances, we still don't seem to be any closer to a definite answer.
Last September, the Mobile Telecommunications and Health Research (MTHR) programme, which is funded jointly by the Government and the industry, concluded that mobile phones, base stations and masts "have not been found to be associated with any biological or adverse health effects".
This conclusion was based on the findings of the working of the cells in our bodies. A major UK report eight years ago warned that children could be especially vulnerable to mobile phone emissions because of their thinner skulls and developing nervous system.
However, the Health Protection Agency, which is responsible for safety in this area, has stated that as far as adults are concerned, wi-fi, phones and radio masts all operate on a power level that is well within the accepted guidelines, and that there is no evidence that they pose a threat to people's health.
Speaking last September, the chairman of the MTHR programme, Professor Lawrie Challis, said: "There is no evidence for immediate or short-term health effects" — though he added there was a "slight hint" of increased risk of brain tumour among long term users.
There have not been any official studies on children, but because children have been shown to react differently to environmental stimuli, Professor Challis said it was "possible that they were at greater risk".
The advice to parents is to limit children's use of mobiles, and ensure that those under the age of eight do not use them at all.
For some experts, this warning does not go nearly far enough. Professor Denis Henshaw, head of the human radiation effects group at Bristol University, says: "We are steeped in denial over the safety of mobile phones and related technologies."
Source - Daily Mail