Objective: The aim of the cross-sectional study was to test the hypothesis that exposure to continuous low-level radio frequency electromagnetic fields (RF-EMFs) emitted from mobile phone base stations was related to various health disturbances.
Methods: For the investigation people living mainly in urban regions were selected from a nationwide study in 2006. In total, 3526 persons responded to a questionnaire (response rate 85%). For the exposure assessment a dosimeter measuring different RF-EMF frequencies was used. Participants answered a postal questionnaire on how mobile phone base stations affected their health and they gave information on sleep disturbances, headaches, health complaints and mental and physical health using standardised health questionnaires. Information on stress was also collected. Multiple linear regression models were used with health outcomes as dependent variables (n = 1326).
Results: For the five health scores used, no differences in their medians were observed for exposed versus non-exposed participants. People who attributed adverse health effects to mobile phone base stations reported significantly more sleep disturbances and health complaints, but they did not report more headaches or less mental and physical health. Individuals concerned about mobile phone base stations did not have different well-being scores compared with those who were not concerned.
Conclusions: In this large population-based study, measured RF-EMFs emitted from mobile phone base stations were not associated with adverse health effects.
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Funding: The study received its funding entirely from the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nuclear Safety, and Nature Protection, within the context of the “Deutsches Mobilfunkforschungsprogramm” (German Mobile Telecommunication Research Programme). The study sponsor had no involvement in study design; in the collection, analysis and interpretation of data; in the writing of the report; and in the decision to submit the article for publication.
Competing interests: None.
Ethics approval: Was not required for this type of study (a population-based cross-sectional survey without intervention). The study was approved by the Data Protection Authority from the University of Bielefeld.
Patient consent: Obtained.
We declare that we participated in the study and have seen and approved the final version. MB, GB-B, BS, PP and JS conceptualised the study and developed the study protocol. GB-B and MB were responsible for the conduction of the study. PP was responsible for the survey, which was managed by UR. PP and UR analysed the survey data. GB-B, BK and JB were responsible for data collection and, together with SS, for the analysis. CB was responsible for the quality control of dosimeters. JS, GB-B and MB prepared the manuscript which was jointly finalised by all authors. GB-B is the guarantor of the work.