Study type: Medical/biological study (observational study)

[Electromagnetic fields and health complaints - interdisciplinary case evaluations in an environmental medicine counselling project]. med./bio.

Elektromagnetische Felder und Gesundheitsbelastungen - Interdisziplinäre Fallabklärungen im Rahmen eines umweltmedizinischen Beratungsprojektes.

Published in: Umweltmed Forsch Prax 2005; 10 (1): 21-28

Aim of study (acc. to author)

During 2001, persons who attributed their health problems to environmental exposures, e.g. electromagnetic fields, were counselled in an interdisciplinary environmental medicine pilot project in the Basel area. The aim of the study was to compare the exposure situation of low frequency and high frequency electromagnetic fields in the residences of the patients of the information center. Furthermore, it was investigated whether persons who believe that electromagnetic fields are the only reason for their health complaints differ from persons who blame other environmental stress factors.

Background/further details

High frequency and low frequency electromagnetic field measurements were conducted at the homes of those participants who attributed their health complaints specifically to electromagnetic fields. The plausibility of a relation between health complaints and electromagnetic field exposure was discussed in joint case conferences. Plausibility was judged on the basis of the following criteria: Electromagnetic field levels had to exceed a tenth of the Swiss limit values to be considered in the case conference (low frequency: 10 V/m, 0.1µT, high frequency: 0.6 V/m). The irradiation had to occur in an area where the persons spent at least several hours or more every day. Prerequisite was that the irradiation occurred before the onset of symptoms.

Endpoint

Exposure

Exposure Parameters
Exposure 1: 5 Hz–400 kHz
Exposure duration: here not relevant
Exposure 2: 700 MHz–3 GHz
Exposure duration: here not relevant

General information

all measurments took place at the homes of the participants

Exposure 1

Main characteristics
Frequency 5 Hz–400 kHz
Type
Exposure duration here not relevant
Additional info Frequency range used for magnetic field and electric field measurements were between 5 Hz to 50 kHz and 5 Hz to 400 kHz, respectively.
Exposure setup
Exposure source
  • elektromagnetic household appliances
Parameters
Measurand Value Type Method Mass Remarks
electric field strength 110 V/m maximum measured - in the bedroom
electric field strength 200 V/m maximum measured - in the kitchen
magnetic flux density 1.5 µT maximum measured - in the bedroom
electric field strength 90 V/m maximum measured - in the living room
magnetic flux density 15 µT maximum measured - in the study
magnetic flux density 7 µT minimum measured - in the kitchen
electric field strength 160 V/m maximum measured - in the study
magnetic flux density 1.45 µT maximum measured - in the living room

Exposure 2

Main characteristics
Frequency 700 MHz–3 GHz
Type
Exposure duration here not relevant
Additional info An additional probe was used for measurement in the frequency range of 700 MHz to 3 GHz to determine the contribution of cellular phone networks.
Exposure setup
Exposure source
Parameters
Measurand Value Type Method Mass Remarks
electric field strength 2.95 V/m maximum measured - in the kitchen
electric field strength 2.25 V/m maximum measured - in the bedroom
electric field strength 1.35 V/m maximum measured - in the living room
electric field strength 9 V/m maximum measured - in the study

Exposed system:

Methods Endpoint/measurement parameters/methodology

Investigated system:
Time of investigation:
  • after exposure

Main outcome of study (acc. to author)

Although none of the limit values was exceeded, the project team rated an electromagnetic field irradiation a plausible cause of the reported health complaints of few participants (the project team concluded that in 8 of the 25 (32%) participants, at least one of the reported symptoms was related to the electromagnetic field exposure). Due to the high complexity in these cases, only an interdisciplinary team is likely to be able to adequately diagnose environmental related health problems to concerned patients.

Study character:

Study funded by

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