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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
Journal not peer-reviewed

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
Modulation type: pulsed
Exposure duration: continuous for 20 min
Exposure 2: 1,840 MHz
Modulation type: pulsed
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
Modulation
Modulation type pulsed
Pulse width 577 µs
Repetition frequency 217 Hz
Additional info GSM signal with time slots 0-3 on and 4-7 off resulting in an overall duty cycle of 50%
Exposure setup
Exposure source
Distance between exposed object and exposure source 3 m
Chamber 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 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 Mass 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 10 g -
SAR 0.000513 µW/kg average over mass calculated partial body -
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
Modulation
Modulation type pulsed
Pulse width 577 µs
Repetition frequency 217 Hz
Additional info GSM signal with time slots 0-3 on and 4-7 off resulting in an overall duty cycle of 50%
Exposure setup
Exposure source
Sham exposure A sham exposure was conducted.
Parameters
Measurand Value Type Method Mass 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 10 g -
SAR 0.000383 µW/kg average over mass calculated partial body -
Exposure 3
Main characteristics
Frequency 2,140 MHz
Type
Charakteristic
Exposure duration continuous for 20 min
Modulation
Modulation type cf. additional info
Additional info The UMTS signal simulated the downlink settings of a base station with the following frames transmitted: P-SCH, S-SCH, P-CCPCH and CPICH. The chiprate (clock frequency) was 3.84 MHz.
Exposure setup
Exposure source
Sham exposure A sham exposure was conducted.
Parameters
Measurand Value Type Method Mass 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 10 g -
SAR 0.064 mW/kg maximum calculated 10 g front illumination
SAR 0.000316 µW/kg average over mass calculated partial body -
SAR 0.000327 µW/kg average over mass calculated partial body front illumination
Reference articles
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:

Study funded by

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

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