Study type: Medical/biological study (experimental study)

GSM base stations: short-term effects on well-being med./bio.

Published in: Bioelectromagnetics 2009; 30 (1): 73-80

Aim of study (acc. to author)

To evaluate whether different intensities of radiofrequency electromagnetic field exposure from an operating mobile phone GSM-signal base station with only short-term exposure can cause detectable differences in subjective well-being. Secondary it was investigated whether symptoms could be shown to be associated with a "nocebo" effect caused by anxiety, concerns and stress.

Background/further details

57 participants (35 women) were randomly assigned to one of three different exposure scenarios with three exposure levels (low, medium, high). Hypersensitive individuals were neither actively recruited, nor excluded from the tests.



Exposure Parameters
Exposure 1: 900 MHz
Modulation type: pulsed
Exposure duration: intermittent, 5 x 50 min, with 5-min breaks

Exposure 1

Main characteristics
Frequency 900 MHz
Exposure duration intermittent, 5 x 50 min, with 5-min breaks
Modulation type pulsed
Additional info

GSM downlink

Exposure setup
Exposure source
Distance between exposed object and exposure source 6 m
Chamber The experiments took place in an adapted room in a kindergarten. Participants sat on a comfortable wooden chair at 6 m from the GSM-900 omni antenna mounted on the facade of the building and behind a gap in the shielding carbonaceous wall paint.
Setup Three different exposure levels (low, medium, and high) were created by shielding and placebo curtains which could be installed or removed by technicians during the 5-min breaks between sessions such that double-blinded conditions prevailed.
Additional info Participants were randomly subjected to one of three different exposure scenarios with five 50-min exposure sessions of which only the first four were relevant for the study of psychological symptoms. The scenarios were HM: LHLML, MH: LMLHL, and LL: LLLLH. Due to early termination of the study, numbers of subjects for the three scenarios were not equal as projected (22 for HM, 26 for MH, and 9 for LL).
Measurand Value Type Method Mass Remarks
power density 5.2 µW/m² mean measured - Low
power density 153.6 µW/m² mean measured - Medium
power density 2,126.8 µW/m² mean measured - High

Exposed system:

Methods Endpoint/measurement parameters/methodology

Investigated system:
Time of investigation:
  • before exposure
  • after exposure

Main outcome of study (acc. to author)

Participants that received high or medium exposure were significantly calmer during the sessions than participants in the low exposure condition. No significant differences between the different intensities on the parameters "good mood" or "alertness" were found. Self-rated electromagnetic hypersensitivity was low in prevalence and did not correlate with any of the factors describing psychological stress.
The authors conclude that short-term exposure to GSM base station signals may have an impact on well-being by reducing psychological arousal.

Study character:

Study funded by

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