Study type: Epidemiological study (observational study)

Symptoms in Swiss adolescents in relation to exposure from fixed site transmitters: a prospective cohort study. epidem.

Published in: Environ Health 2016; 15 (1): 77

Aim of study (acc. to author)

A prospective cohort study was conducted in Switzerland to examine whether self-reported general well-being in adolescents is affected by radiofrequency electromagnetic field exposure from mobile phone base stations and broadcast transmitters (TV and radio).

Further details

Three main analyses were performed:
1.) a cross-sectional analysis of a combined dataset consisting of baseline and follow-up data,
2.) a cohort analysis including all participants without a target symptom at baseline to investigate whether new onset of a symptom was related to the exposure level at baseline and
3.) a change analysis including all participants without a target symptom at baseline to investigate whether new onset of a symptom was related to an increase in exposure between baseline and follow-up.
Further results of the HERMES (Health Effects Related to Mobile phonE use in adolescentS) study are published on behavioral problems and concentration capacity by Roser et al. (2016), on memory performance by Schoeni et al. (2015) and on subjective symptoms associated with mobile phone use Schoeni et al. (2016).

Endpoint/type of risk estimation

Type of risk estimation: (odds ratio (OR))

Exposure

Assessment

Exposure groups

Group Description
Reference group 1 exposure to broadcast transmitter: ≤ 50th percentile (low)
Group 2 exposure to broadcast transmitter: > 50th - ≤ 75th percentile (medium)
Group 3 exposure to broadcast transmitter: > 75th percentile (high)
Reference group 4 exposure to mobile phone basis stations (downlink): ≤ 50th percentile (low)
Group 5 exposure to mobile phone basis stations (downlink): > 50th - ≤ 75th percentile (medium)
Group 6 exposure to mobile phone basis stations (downlink): > 75th percentile (high)
Reference group 7 total exposure: ≤ 50th percentile (low)
Group 8 total exposure: > 50th - ≤ 75th percentile (medium)
Group 9 total exposure: > 75th percentile (high)

Population

Study size

Type Value
Participants 439
Participation rate 37 %
Statistical analysis method: ( adjustment: )

Conclusion (acc. to author)

Mean exposure (median, 75th percentile) for broadcast transmitters, mobile phone base stations and total exposure at baseline were 1.9 µW/m2 (1.0 µW/m2; 2.8 µW/m2), 14.4 µW/m2 (3.8 µW/m2; 11.0 µW/m2) and 16.3 µW/m2 (5.8 µW/m2; 13.4 µW/m2), respectively.
1.) In the combined cross-sectional analyses of the baseline and follow-up data, no associations were observed between any symptom and exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields from fixed site transmitters.
2.) In the cohort analyses, only a few significant associations were found including an increased odds ratio of 2.94 for tiredness (CI 1.43-6.05) for participants in group 9 in comparison to reference group 7.
3.) In the change analyses, a decreased odds ratio of 0.50 was observed for exhaustibility (CI 0.27-0.93) for participants with an exposure increase between baseline and follow-up.
The authors concluded that exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields from fixed site transmitters was not consistently associated with self-reported symptoms in Swiss adolescents. The few observed associations have to be interpreted with caution and might represent chance findings.

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