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Epidemiological study (observational study)

Mobile phone base stations and adverse health effects: phase 2 of a cross-sectional study with measured radio frequency electromagnetic fields.

Published in: Occup Environ Med 2009; 66 (2): 124-130

Aim of study (acc. to author)

Aim of the second phase of a cross-sectional study conducted in Germany was to investigate the association between adverse health effects and the exposure to measured electromagnetic fields emitted by mobile phone base stations. The first phase of the study is published in publication 16554.

Further details

Health status was assessed by following questionnaires: 18-item Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index, 6-item Headache Impact Test, 24-item list of psychosomatic complaints (von Zerssen list), 36-item SF-36 Health Survey, 12-item Trier Inventory of Chronic Stress. A person was defined as exposed when the mean total field was above 0.1 V/m (0.029mW/m²), the 90th percentile.

Endpoint/type of risk estimation

Type of risk estimation:
  • prevalence

Exposure

Assessment

  • interview
  • measurement: 75 measurements at 4 different positions on the bed of the participant during daytime
  • dosimeter
  • calculation: mean total field value based on the root mean square of 280 measurements for each participant; calculation without uplink frequencies

Exposure groups

Reference group 1 non-exposed: mean total field ≤ 0.1 V/m (0.029mW/m²)
Group 2 exposed: mean total field > 0.1 V/m (0.029mW/m²)

Population

  • Group:
    • men
    • women
  • Age: 15–71 years
  • Characteristics: selected respondents from 8 urban regions of the first phase
  • Observation period: March - August 2006
  • Study location: Germany (Berlin, western part of the Ruhr district, Hamburg, Cologne/Bonn, Munich, Dresden, Hanover, Stuttgart)
  • Data source: representative sample of a panel study byTNS Infratest/Test Panel Institute

Study size

Total 4,150
Participants 1,808
Evaluable 1,326
Statistical analysis method:
  • multiple linear regression analysis
( adjustment: )

Conclusion (acc. to author)

Overall, the measurements of radiofrequency electromagnetic fields emitted by mobile phone base stations were far below the guidelines for limiting exposure of the public to time-varying electromagnetic fields. For all five health scores, no differences in their medians were observed for exposed versus non-exposed participants. However, differences across the three groups of risk perception were seen: participants attributing adverse health effects to base stations reported significantly more sleep disturbances and health complaints than non-concerned individuals. The authors concluded that measured radiofrequency electromagnetic fields emitted by mobile phone base stations were not associated with adverse health effects.

Study funded by

  • Deutsches Mobilfunk Forschungsprogramm (DMF; German Mobile Phone Research Programme) at Federal Office for Radiation Protection (BfS)

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