Epidemiological study

Mobile phone use, school electromagnetic field levels and related symptoms: a cross-sectional survey among 2150 high school students in Izmir.

Published in: Environ Health 2017; 16 (1): 51

Aim of study (acc. to author)

A cross-sectional study was conducted in Turkey to investigate the association between mobile phone usage, school EMF levels and self-reported health symptoms of adolescents.

Further details

Depending on the subjective symptoms, nonusers or the respective group with the lowest exposure level was selected as reference group.
(Remark EMF-Portal: Only the most important exposure groups are listed in the table below.)

Endpoint/type of risk estimation

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



  • questionnaire: mobile phone use: duration in years, number of mobile calls per day, duration of calls per day, ownership, brand and model, SAR, internet connection, mobile service (prepaid or bill), monthly costs, location of mobiel phone at night and day; mobile phone base station: distance to school or home
  • measurement: spots with highest exposure indoors (school building) and outdoors (school garden)

Exposure groups

Reference group 1 mobile phone use: no
Group 2 mobile phone use: yes
Reference group 3 number of calls per day: < 1
Group 4 number of calls per day: 1 - 4
Group 5 number of calls per day: ≥ 5
Reference group 6 total duration of calls per day: < 5 min
Group 7 total duration of calls per day: 5 - 9 min
Group 8 total duration of calls per day: 10 - 30 min
Group 9 total duration of calls per day: > 30 min
Reference group 10 status and position of mobile phone at night: off
Group 11 status and position of mobile phone at night: on, ≥ 1 m away
Group 12 status and position of mobile phone at night: on, 25 - 99 cm away
Group 13 status and position of mobile phone at night: on, 0 - 24 cm away
Reference group 14 position during daytime: does not carry, leaves at home or in a furniture at school
Group 15 position of phone during daytime: on a belt or in the pocket or bag
Group 16 position of phone during daytime: in the pocket of overcoat or jacket
Reference group 17 status while studying: off
Group 18 status while studying: on, silent mode
Reference group 19 distance to base station: > 300 m
Group 20 distance to base station: ≤ 300 m
Reference group 21 exposure in school building: 1st quartile (≤ 0.602 V/m)
Group 22 exposure in school building: 2nd quartile (0.603 - 0.850 V/m)
Group 23 exposure in school building: 3rd quartile (0.851 - 1.51 V/m)
Group 24 exposure in school building: 4th quartile (≥ 1.52 V/m)


  • Group:
    • men
    • women
  • Age: 14–16 years
  • Characteristics: students in high schools in Izmir
  • Observation period: 2009 - 2010
  • Study location: Turkey (Izmir)

Study size

Total 2,240
Evaluable 2,150
Statistical analysis method:
  • logistic regression

Conclusion (acc. to author)

Among the study participants, 2021 (94.0%) were using mobile phones. Among users, 49.4% were speaking less than 10 min per day and 52.2% were sending/receiving 75 or more messages per day. Fatigue was the most commonly reported symptom, followed by headache and irritability.
Headache, fatigue and sleep disturbances were observed more often among mobile phone users (group 2) compared to nonusers (group 1) (OR 1.90, CI 1.30–2.77; OR 1.78, CI 1.21–2.63 and OR 1.53, CI 1.05–2.21, resp.). Many statistically significant associations were found which cannot be expected by chance alone. Some of the observed associations showed dose-response relationships.
Limited associations were observed between vicinity to base stations and some general symptoms. No association was found with exposure at school.
The authors conclude that their findings suggest an association between mobile phone use and some subjective symptoms.

Study funded by

  • The Scientific and Technical Research Council of Turkey (TÜBITAK), Turkey

Related articles

  • Schoeni A et al. (2017): Symptoms and the use of wireless communication devices: a prospective cohort study in Swiss adolescents.
  • Huss A et al. (2015): Environmental Radiofrequency Electromagnetic Fields Exposure at Home, Mobile and Cordless Phone Use, and Sleep Problems in 7-Year-Old Children.
  • Zheng F et al. (2015): Association between mobile phone use and self-reported well-being in children: a questionnaire-based cross-sectional study in Chongqing, China.
  • Chiu CT et al. (2015): Mobile phone use and health symptoms in children.
  • Heinrich S et al. (2011): The impact of exposure to radio frequency electromagnetic fields on chronic well-being in young people - A cross-sectional study based on personal dosimetry.
  • Mortazavi SM et al. (2011): The pattern of mobile phone use and prevalence of self-reported symptoms in elementary and junior high school students in Shiraz, Iran.
  • Heinrich S et al. (2010): Association between exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields assessed by dosimetry and acute symptoms in children and adolescents: a population based cross-sectional study.
  • Söderqvist F et al. (2008): Use of wireless telephones and self-reported health symptoms: a population-based study among Swedish adolescents aged 15-19 years.