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Epidemiological study (observational study)

Modeled and Perceived Exposure to Radiofrequency Electromagnetic Fields From Mobile-Phone Base Stations and the Development of Symptoms Over Time in a General Population Cohort.

Published in: Am J Epidemiol 2017; 186 (2): 210-219

Aim of study (acc. to author)

A population-based cohort study was conducted in the Netherlands to investigate whether there is an association between modeled and perceived exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields from mobile-phone base stations and how modeled and perceived exposures are associated with nonspecific symptoms and sleep disturbances over time.

Further details

Nonspecific somatic symptoms were assessed by the somatization scale of the Four-Dimensional Symptom Questionnaire (4DSQ-S). Sleep disturbances were measured using the Sleep Scale of the Medical Outcomes Study (MOS).

Endpoint/type of risk estimation

Type of risk estimation:
  • prevalence




  • Group:
    • men
    • women
  • Age: 31–65 years
  • Characteristics: participants of the Occupational and Environmental Health Cohort Study (AMIGO)
  • Observation period: 2011 - 2012, follow-up 2013 - 2014
  • Study location: Netherlands

Study size

Total 14,829
Other: subgroup of 3,992 participants selected for follow-up in 2013 (n=2,228) and 2014 (n=1,740)
Statistical analysis method:
  • fixed-effects regression model
( adjustment:
  • age
  • sex
  • education
  • socioeconomic status
  • urbanization

Conclusion (acc. to author)

Small correlations between modeled and perceived exposures to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields from mobile phone base stations were observed in study participants at baseline. For 222 follow-up participants, modeled exposure increased substantially (> 0.030 mW/m2) between 2011/2012 and 2013. This increase in modeled exposure was associated with an increase in perceived exposure during the same time period.
No association between modeled exposure from mobile phone base stations and health outcomes was found. On contrary, perceived exposure was associated with higher symptom reporting scores in both cross-sectional and longitudinal analyses, as well as with sleep disturbances in cross-sectional analyses.
The authors conclude that the robust study design adds to the body of evidence that there seems to be no substantial adverse effect of everyday residential exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields from mobile phone base stations on the development of nonspecific symptoms and sleep disturbances in the general public. Awareness of the presence of mobile phone base stations in the home environment may play an indirect role in symptom reporting, through effects on perceived exposure.

Study funded by

  • ZonMw, The Netherlands

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