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Not-so-hot pants keep cell phones cool

Forget stain-resistant slacks. Levi Strauss plans to sell pants with an "anti-radiation" cell phone pocket, for people distressed by the as yet unproven health risks.

Clothing manufacturer Levi Strauss is gearing up to launch a pair of trousers with an "anti-radiation" cell phone pocket, prompted by customers' concerns about the possible health risks of mobile phone use.

Company officials confirmed to ZDNet UK on Thursday that its forthcoming Dockers S-Fit men's trousers will include a cell phone pocket with a "radiation-reducing" lining.

Levi's claims that this lining "might reduce" any adverse health effects from mobile phones--even though scientists have not yet found firm proof that cell phone use is dangerous.

"The Dockers trousers will have a mobile phone pocket with a shielding lining between the phone and the skin," a Levi's representative told ZDNet UK.

He added that the outside of the pocket would not have a shield, which could interfere with the phone's ability to communicate with the mobile network and cause it to use more power to overcome the shielding.

The Levi's representative told ZDNet UK that the inner lining includes an integrated metal grid, which he claimed had been proven by independent research institutes to "reduce the emissions from mobile phones." Further details about the lining are not yet available, except that it is 97 percent cotton, with the remaining 3 percent being a substance called "MDF."

The Dockers S-Fit trousers are scheduled to hit European stores in early 2003. There are no plans to launch them in the United States.

Last year, Levi's teamed up with European electronics manufacturer Philips to launch a jacket with a built-in mobile phone and MP3 player, and it seems that this initiative is one factor in the launch of the radiation-reducing cell phone pocket.

"Our customer feedback found that people wanted a bit more protection. We are not implying that mobile phones are dangerous. We're responding to feedback from consumers," said the Levi's representative.

Mobile phone radiation is one of the most contentious issues in the telecommunications industry. Cell phone companies insist that their products keep to strict emission guidelines, and point out there is no scientific proof that exposure to mobile emissions--either from a handset or from a base station--are harmful.