Study type: Epidemiological study (observational study)

Sleep Disturbances in the Vicinity of the Short-Wave Broadcast Transmitter Schwarzenburg. epidem.

Published in: Somnologie (Somnology) 2005; 9 (4): 203-209

Aim of study (acc. to author)

An overview of studies investigating the association between health complaints and the vicinity to the short-wave broadcast transmitter Schwarzenburg, Switzerland, is given.

Further details

Two cross-sectional studies and two panel studies were conducted in the area of Schwarzenburg, Switzerland. In each cross-sectional study, about 400 adults living in different distances to the transmitter were asked about somatic and psycho-vegetative symptoms including sleep disturbances. In the panel studies, melatonin excretion of 65 and 54 persons was measured and sleep quality was assessed by a diary to compare the period before and after shut-down of the transmitter.

Endpoint/type of risk estimation

Type of risk estimation:



Exposure groups

Group Description
Reference group 1 zone C: 3000 - 5000 m from the transmitter, 1 - 2 mA/m, median 1 mA/m: unexposed
Group 2 zone A: up to 900 m from the transmitter, 14 - 41 mA/m, median 28 mA/m: exposed
Group 3 zone C: 900 - 1500 m from the transmitter, 3 - 37 mA/m, median 21mA/m: exposed
Group 4 zone R: Rueggisberg, ≤ 10 mA/m: exposed


Study size

Type Value
Participants 804

Conclusion (acc. to author)

The prevalence of difficulties of falling asleep and maintaining sleep increased with increasing radiofrequency electromagnetic field exposure in both cross-sectional studies. Sleep quality improved after transmitter shut-down. No chronic change of melatonin excretion was observed.
The authors concluded that the results of the studies give strong evidence of a causal relationship between the operation of a short-wave broadcast transmitter and sleep disturbances in the surrounding population, but there is insufficient evidence to distinguish between a biological and psychological effect.

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