Study type: Medical/biological study (experimental study)

Provocation study using heart rate variability shows microwave radiation from 2.4 GHz cordless phone affects autonomic nervous system med./bio.

Published in: Giuliani L, Soffritti M: Non-thermal effects and mechanisms of interaction between electromagnetic fields and living matter. Mattioli 1885, 2010: 273-300, ISBN 978-88-6261-166-4

Aim of study (acc. to author)

To study the effect of pulsed microwave exposure on heart rate variability in humans.

Background/further details

25 subjects participated (80 % females; age 37-79 years old).



Exposure Parameters
Exposure 1: 2.4 GHz
Modulation type: pulsed
Exposure duration: continuous for 3 min

Exposure 1

Main characteristics
Frequency 2.4 GHz
Exposure duration continuous for 3 min
Modulation type pulsed
Repetition frequency 100 Hz
Exposure setup
Exposure source
Setup tests were done at two different locations (Golden and Boulder, Colorado, USA); GS Filters (Graham Stetzer filters, that filter frequencies between 4 kHz and 100 kHz) were installed at both locations before testing; phone (base station) placed 30 cm - 50 cm from the subject's head
Sham exposure A sham exposure was conducted.
Measurand Value Type Method Mass Remarks
power density 3 µW/cm² minimum - - -
power density 5 µW/cm² maximum - - -

Exposed system:

Methods Endpoint/measurement parameters/methodology

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

Main outcome of study (acc. to author)

Results of the questionnaire: Based on self-assessments, participants classified themselves as extremely electrosensitive (24 %), moderately (n=16 %), slightly (16 %), not sensitive (8 %) or with no opinion (36 %) about their electrosensitivity. The top 10 symptoms experienced by those claiming to be electrosensitive include memory problems, difficulty concentrating, eye problems, sleep disorder, feeling unwell, headache, dizziness, tinnitus, chronic fatigue, and heart palpitations. The five most common objects allegedly causing sensitivity were fluorescent lights, antennas, mobile phones, WiFi, and cordless phones.
Data of the provocation study: 40 % of the subjects experienced some changes in their heart rate variability attributable to the pulsed microwave exposure. For some the response was extreme (tachycardia), for others moderate to mild (changes in sympathetic nervous system and/or parasympathetic nervous system) and for some there was no observable reaction either because of high adaptive capacity or because of systemic neurovegetative exhaustion.
This is the first study that documents immediate and dramatic changes in both heart rate and heart rate variability associated with microwave exposure at levels well below (0.5 %) guidelines in Canada and the United States (1000 µW/cm²).

Study character:

Study funded by

Replication studies

Related articles