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Mobile Phones Alert
The days of people appearing to talk to themselves could be numbered as new research suggests that hands-free kits could increase radiation exposure from mobile phones.
A study by the British Consumers Association found that the wires act like an aerial, directing as much as three times the microwave radiation into the brain as a phone held normally next to the ear.
The tests were only conducted on two kits, one for a Philips Savvy phone and another for an Ericsson, but the researchers believe that the results would be similar if tests were carried out on other kits.
Mobile phone radiation has been linked with brain tumours, genetic damage and illnesses including heart and kidney problems, multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer's.
Some experts compare a 10-minute call to putting your head in a microwave but manufacturers dispute the idea that using your trusty mobile can be hazardous to your health.
In Bahrain an estimated 23 per cent of the population use mobile phones and the capacity is set to increase from 150,000 to 230,000 lines by the end of next year.
Many of these users believe they are protecting themselves by using the hands-free kits but they may be changing their minds now.
Young Goans Club president Francis Correia said he would stop using the device completely after hearing the news.
He began using his ear-piece because he believed it was safer and more convenient. "Initially it felt like a hearing aid but I soon got used to it," said Mr Correia.
"It is much more convenient and I was not worried about radiation at all because I thought the way this item was made would protect me.
"I'll definitely stop using it now."
Secretary Fatima Hassan dismissed the research saying she was sure further investigation would prove it wrong. "I don't believe this study is correct and I feel that the hands-free kit doesn't increase the radiation," she noted.
"I feel there is more radiation going into my head when it is near my ear."
Ms Hassan started using her ear-piece in an effort to make life easier and to protect herself from radiation and she has no intention of changing her habits. "There is less radiation and it is more convenient when I drive," she said.
"I feel the heat from the phone when it is next to my head and that gives me a headache so the hands-free is more comfortable."
Promotions and advertising assistant Fahad Taqi was shocked to hear about the study.
"When I started using my ear-piece four months ago I got less headaches and the sound was a lot clearer than normal," he remarked.
"I hate carrying phones, especially when I'm driving or working."
Despite the research Mr Taqi plans to keep on using the device because he feels that his risk is low.
"I don't exceed five minutes on the phone at a time because I'm worried about the radiation," he said.
"I used to sit on it for a long time and I would get headaches. This study won't change a thing for me."