Medical/biological study (experimental study)

Effects of Global Communication system radio-frequency fields on Well Being and Cognitive Functions of human subjects with and without subjective complaints.

Published in: TNO Reports 2003; (FEL03C148): 1-89

Aim of study (acc. to author)

To study general symptoms and cognitive functions with and without exposure to GSM and UMTS-like fields in subjects presenting with complaints subjectively attributed to GSM fields.
Background/further details: This study is the so-called TNO study.
72 subjects (36 self-reported electrosensitive, 36 non-electrosensitive subjects) participated.

Endpoint

Exposure

Exposure Parameters
Exposure 1: 945 MHz
Exposure duration: continuous for 20 min
Exposure 2: 1,840 MHz
Exposure duration: continuous for 20 min
Exposure 3: 2,140 MHz
Exposure duration: continuous for 20 min
General information
The design of the study was a completely balanced double-blind randomized three-way crossover evaluation where study subjects were allocated to exposure sessions according to a balanced block randomization (for both groups, 18 blocks of 2 subjects each) taking into account all exposure sequences. After a first training session, each subject participated in three consecutive experimental sessions with one sham (in any case) and two different RF exposures to 900, 1800, or 2100 MHz EMF.
Exposure 1
Main characteristics
Frequency 945 MHz
Type
Charakteristic
Exposure duration continuous for 20 min
Exposure setup
Exposure source/structure
Distance between exposed object and exposure source 3 m
Chamber details Two antennas were placed on a tripod, one antenna transmitting UMTS-like fields while the other was a dual band antenna transmitting GSM 900 MHz as well as DCS 1800 MHz fields. The amplifier and antenna combination was selected by a coaxial switch box.
Setup details The subjects were seated at a desk with their right (?) side turned to the antennas that were at a distance of 3 m from the body axis with their centre at a height of 1.5 m.
Sham exposure A sham exposure was conducted.
Parameters
Measurand Value Type Method Remarks
electric field strength 1 V/m peak value measured -
electric field strength 0.71 V/m effective value measured -
SAR 0.045 mW/kg maximum calculated -
SAR 0.001 µW/kg average over mass calculated -
Additional parameter details
The SAR values indicated are local maximum and total average in the head with side illumination.
Measurement and calculation details
Field verification measurements were performed before the experiments by placing an isotropic electric field probe at the planned position of the test subjects. A monitor probe in front of the antennas was used for field verification and logging during the experiments. The SAR calculations were performed using a global numerical method called the three-dimensional volume integral equation or the WCG-FFT method [Zwamborn and van den Berg, 1992] and assuming a vertically polarized homogeneous plane wave.
Exposure 2
Main characteristics
Frequency 1,840 MHz
Type
Charakteristic
Exposure duration continuous for 20 min
Exposure setup
Exposure source/structure
Sham exposure A sham exposure was conducted.
Parameters
Measurand Value Type Method Remarks
electric field strength 1 V/m peak value measured -
electric field strength 0.71 V/m effective value measured -
SAR 0.082 mW/kg maximum calculated -
SAR 0 µW/kg average over mass calculated -
Exposure 3
Main characteristics
Frequency 2,140 MHz
Type
Charakteristic
Exposure duration continuous for 20 min
Exposure setup
Exposure source/structure
Sham exposure A sham exposure was conducted.
Parameters
Measurand Value Type Method Remarks
electric field strength 1 V/m peak value measured -
electric field strength 1 V/m effective value measured -
SAR 0.078 mW/kg maximum calculated -
SAR 0.064 mW/kg maximum calculated front illumination
SAR 0 µW/kg average over mass calculated -
SAR 0 µW/kg average over mass calculated front illumination
Exposed system:

Methods Endpoint/measurement parameters/methodology

Investigated material:
Investigated organ system:
Time of investigation:
  • before exposure
  • during exposure
  • after exposure

Main outcome of study (acc. to author)

A statistically significant relation between UMTS-like fields with a field strength of 1 V/m and an effect on the well-being was found (lower overall well-being). Further, a number of significant effects was revealed in the cognitive tasks.
Study character:
  • medical/biological study
  • experimental study
  • full/main study

Study funded by

  • Ministry of Economic Affairs, Netherlands
  • Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport, Netherlands
  • Ministry of Spatial Planning, Housing and the Environment, Netherlands

Related articles

  • Nam KC et al. (2009): Hypersensitivity to RF fields emitted from CDMA cellular phones: a provocation study.
  • Eltiti S et al. (2009): Short-term exposure to mobile phone base station signals does not affect cognitive functioning or physiological measures in individuals who report sensitivity to electromagnetic fields and controls.
  • Augner C et al. (2009): GSM base stations: short-term effects on well-being.
  • Hillert L et al. (2008): The effects of 884 MHz GSM wireless communication signals on headache and other symptoms: an experimental provocation study.
  • Kwon MS et al. (2008): Perception of the electromagnetic field emitted by a mobile phone.
  • Unterlechner M et al. (2008): No effect of an UMTS mobile phone-like electromagnetic field of 1.97 GHz on human attention and reaction time.
  • Riddervold IS et al. (2008): Cognitive function and symptoms in adults and adolescents in relation to rf radiation from UMTS base stations.
  • Kleinlogel H et al. (2008): Effects of weak mobile phone - electromagnetic fields (GSM, UMTS) on well-being and resting EEG.
  • Cinel C et al. (2008): Does the use of mobile phones affect human short-term memory or attention?
  • Cinel C et al. (2008): Exposure to mobile phone electromagnetic fields and subjective symptoms: a double-blind study.
  • Wiholm C et al. (2007): The Effects of 884 MHz GSM Wireless Communication Signals on Spatial Memory Performance: An Experimental Provocation Study.
  • Eltiti S et al. (2007): Does short-term exposure to mobile phone base station signals increase symptoms in individuals who report sensitivity to electromagnetic fields? A double-blind randomized provocation study.
  • Leitgeb N (2007): Untersuchung der Schlafqualität bei elektrosensiblen Anwohnern von Basisstationen unter häuslichen Bedingungen.
  • Heinrich S et al. (2007): Elektromagnetische Felder einer UMTS-Mobilfunkbasisstation und mögliche Auswirkungen auf die Befindlichkeit - eine experimentelle Felduntersuchung
  • Regel SJ et al. (2007): Pulsed radio frequency radiation affects cognitive performance and the waking electroencephalogram.
  • Haarala C et al. (2007): Pulsed and continuous wave mobile phone exposure over left versus right hemisphere: effects on human cognitive function.
  • Regel SJ et al. (2006): UMTS base station-like exposure, well-being, and cognitive performance.
  • Lass J et al. (2006): Are there modulated Electromagnetic Field Effects on Human Conscious Perception during Attentional Blink Test?
  • Preece AW et al. (2005): Effect of 902 MHz mobile phone transmission on cognitive function in children.
  • Gezondheidsraad (2004): TNO study on the effects of GSM andUMTS signals on well-being and cognition.
  • Wilen J et al. (2003): Subjective symptoms among mobile phone users - A consequence of absorption of radiofrequency fields?
  • Cook CM et al. (2002): Human electrophysiological and cognitive effects of exposure to ELF magnetic and ELF modulated RF and microwave fields: a review of recent studies.
  • Hietanen M et al. (2002): Hypersensitivity symptoms associated with exposure to cellular telephones: no causal link.
  • Santini R et al. (2002): Symptoms experienced by users of digital cellular phones: a study of a French engineering school
  • Koivisto M et al. (2001): GSM phone signal does not produce subjective symptoms.
  • Lee TM et al. (2001): Effect on human attention of exposure to the electromagnetic field emitted by mobile phones.
  • Krause CM et al. (2000): Effects of electromagnetic field emitted by cellular phones on the EEG during a memory task.
  • Koivisto M et al. (2000): Effects of 902 MHz electromagnetic field emitted by cellular telephones on response times in humans.
  • Koivisto M et al. (2000): The effects of electromagnetic field emitted by GSM phones on working memory.
  • Preece AW et al. (1999): Effect of a 915-MHz simulated mobile phone signal on cognitive function in man.