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Epidemiological study (observational study)

Cohort study on the effects of everyday life radio frequency electromagnetic field exposure on non-specific symptoms and tinnitus.

Published in: Environ Int 2012; 38 (1): 29-36

Aim of study (acc. to author)

A cohort study was conducted in Switzerland to investigate the association between radiofrequency electromagnetic fields exposure and non-specific health symptoms and tinnitus.

Further details

A baseline questionnaire survey was performed in 2008, a follow-up was conducted one year later. Non-specific health complaints of the previous four months were assessed by following questionnaires: von Zerssen somatic complaint list and Headache Impact Test.
Further results of the QUALIFEX study are published in Röösli et al. (2010) and Mohler et al. (2010).

Endpoint/type of risk estimation

Type of risk estimation:
  • prevalence

Exposure

Assessment

Exposure groups

Reference group 1 far-field total personal exposure: < 50th percentile
Group 2 far-field total personal exposure: 50th - 90th percentile
Group 3 far-field total personal exposure: > 90th percentile
Reference group 4 far-field exposure to fixed-site transmitters: < 50th percentile
Group 5 far-field exposure to fixed-site transmitters: 50th - 90th percentile
Group 6 far-field exposure to fixed-site transmitters: > 90th percentile
Reference group 7 near-field exposure: mobile phone use based on operator data: < 50th percentile
Group 8 near-field exposure: mobile phone use based on operator data: 50th - 90th percentile
Group 9 near-field exposure: mobile phone use based on operator data: > 90th percentile
Reference group 10 near-field exposure: self-reported use of mobile phones: < 50th percentile
Group 11 near-field exposure: self-reported use of mobile phones: 50th - 90th percentile
Group 12 near-field exposure: self-reported use of mobile phones: > 90th percentile
Reference group 13 self-estimated exposure: < 50th percentile
Group 14 self-estimated exposure: 50th - 90th percentile
Group 15 self-estimated exposure: > 90th percentile

Population

  • Group:
    • men
    • women
  • Age: 30–60 years
  • Characteristics: Swiss residents or people living in Switzerland for at least 5 years
  • Observation period: 2008, follow-up in 2009
  • Study location: Switzerland (region of Basel)
  • Data source: QUALIFEX study

Study size

Total 4,000
Eligible 3,763
Participants 1,375
Participation rate 37 %
Evaluable 1,124
Other: 1124 participants in follow-up (82 %)
Statistical analysis method:
  • linear regression
  • logistic regression
  • change analysis between baseline and follow-up
( adjustment:
  • age
  • sex
  • residential area
  • education
  • BMI, physical activity, smoking, alcohol consumption, marital status, nightshift work, use of sleeping drugs, general attitude towards the environment
)

Conclusion (acc. to author)

No evidence was found that exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields in everyday life is associated with the development of non-specific health symptoms or tinnitus.

Study funded by

  • Swiss National Science Foundation (SNF)

Comments on this article

  • Kundi M (2012): Failure to detect a link between mobile phone use and brain tumours in a large Danish cohort study: but findings may be due to bias.

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