EMF Health-effects Research

Investigation of potential effects of cellular phones on human auditory function by means of distortion product otoacoustic emissions.

Janssen T, Boege P, von Mikusch-Buchberg J, Raczek J.

J Acoust Soc Am. 117(3 Pt 1):1241-1247, 2005

Outer hair cells (OHC) are thought to act like piezoelectric transducers that amplify low sounds and hence enable the ear's exquisite sensitivity. Distortion product otoacoustic emissions (DPOAE) reflect OHC function.

The present study investigated potential effects of electromagnetic fields (EMF) of GSM (Global System for Mobile Communication) cellular phones on OHCs by means of DPOAEs.

DPOAE measurements were performed during exposure, i.e., between consecutive GSM signal pulses, and during sham exposure (no EMF) in 28 normally hearing subjects at tone frequencies around 4 kHz. For a reliable DPOAE measurement, a 900-MHz GSM-like signal was used where transmission pause was increased from 4.034 ms (GSM standard) to 24.204 ms. Peak transmitter power was set to 20 W, corresponding to a specific absorption rate (SAR) of 0.1 W/kg.

No significant change in the DPOAE level in response to the EMF exposure was found. However, when undesired side effects on DPOAEs were compensated, in some subjects an extremely small EMF-exposure-correlated change in the DPOAE level (< 1 dB) was observed.

In view of the very large dynamic range of hearing in humans (120 dB), it is suggested that this observation is physiologically irrelevant.

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