The safety of cellphones is in question following the discovery that their emissions have an unexpected effect on living creatures. This finding refutes the theory that heating from mobile phone signals is their only threat to brain cells.

In lab tests, British scientists have found that microwave emissions typical of cellphones make a type of worm called a nematode more fertile. Why this happens is unclear and there?s no suggestion that human fertility could be affected. But the research is important because it reveals, for the first time, that biological effects are possible without any warming of tissues.

Until now, regulations designed to protect people from microwave radiation, including from cellphones, have been based on avoiding heating from the microwave radiation. Microwaves don?t have enough energy to break even weak chemical bonds inside our cells, so scientists believe they cannot do any damage unless they are strong enough to heat up the cells. But a team led by David de Pomerai at the University of Nottingham has discovered that cellphone radiation has this mysterious effect on nematode worms, that can?t be explained by heating.

Nematodes were used for the testing because their cell function is understood very well. De Pomerai?s team found that exposing nematode worms to microwaves at frequencies and energies similar to those emitted by a cellphone increases the number of worms that go on to produce eggs. This is significant, says de Pomerai, because even mild heating makes most larvae infertile as adults. ?It would be difficult to explain this effect in terms of heating,? he says.

William Stewart, head of a British government group that is researching cellphones, says, ?These results are very important and potentially far-reaching. Independent confirmation is crucial and we need this quickly.?

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