Around 93% of adults in the UK own or use a mobile phone, and they're an essential part of many people's lives. There have been concernsthat the radio waves they produce and receive might be unsafe.

These radio wavesare a type of low-energy, non-ionising electromagnetic Radiation aclass of radiation that also includes visible light, ultraviolet (UV), and infrared radiation.

Concerns have been expressed that prolonged or frequent exposure to radio waves might increase a person's risk of health problems such as cancer .

However, most current research suggests it's unlikely that radio waves from mobile phones or base stations increase the risk of any health problems.

The researchers acknowledge this evidence is based on use of mobile phones over the last 20 years, and there's still some uncertainty about possible health effects from using a phone for longer than this.

This includes research by:

However, further research is still needed to check that there are no health impacts from long-term exposures (using a mobile phone for more than 20 years).

It can increase your changes of having an accident, and it's illegal to use a handheld mobile phone while driving or riding a motorbike.

The Department for Transport recommends the following guidelines for the safe use of mobile phones in cars:

  • keep your mobile phone switched off when you're driving you can use voicemail, a message service or call diversion to pick up your messages at the end of your journey
  • if you need to use your mobile phone, stop in a safe place don't stop on the hard shoulder of a motorway unless it's an emergency
  • avoid using a hands-free device these can be just as distracting as handheld phones

For example:

  • Only make short calls on your mobile phone, and avoid using it more than necessary.
  • Children should only use mobile phones for essential purposes and keep all calls short.
  • Use a hands-free kit to keep your phone as far away from your head as possible,and keep your mobile phone away from your body when it's in standby mode.
  • Only use your phone when the reception is strongthis is often indicated by bars of energy on your phone screen. Weak reception causes the phone to use more energy to communicate with the base station.
  • Consider thespecific absorption rate (SAR) of a mobile phone before you buy itthis is how much radio wave energy is absorbed into the body. Mobile phone retailers have a responsibility to make this information available to you before you buy.

Content supplied by the NHS Website

Medically Reviewed by a doctor on 4 Jan 2017