EMF Health-effects Research

Cognitive function and symptoms in adults and adolescents in relation to rf radiation from UMTS base stations.

Riddervold IS, Pedersen GF, Andersen NT, Pedersen AD, Andersen JB, Zachariae R, Mølhave L, Sigsgaard T, Kjaergaard SK

Bioelectromagnetics. 29(4):257-267, 2008

There is widespread public concern about the potential adverse health effects of mobile phones in general and their associated base stations in particular. This study was designed to investigate the acute effects of radio frequency (RF) electromagnetic fields (EMF) emitted by the Universal Mobile Telecommunication System (UMTS) mobile phone base stations on human cognitive function and symptoms.

Forty adolescents (15-16 years) and 40 adults (25-40 years) were exposed to four conditions: (1) sham, (2) a Continuous Wave (CW) at 2140 MHz, (3) a signal at 2140 MHz modulated as UMTS and (4) UMTS at 2140 MHz including all control features in a randomized, double blinded cross-over design. Each exposure lasted 45 min.

During exposure the participants performed different cognitive tasks with the Trail Making B (TMB) test as the main outcome and completed a questionnaire measuring self reported subjective symptoms.

No statistically significant differences between the UMTS and sham conditions were found for performance on TMB. For the adults, the estimated difference between UMTS and sham was -3.2% (-9.2%; 2.9%) and for the adolescents 5.5% (-1.1%; 12.2%). No significant changes were found in any of the cognitive tasks. An increase in 'headache rating' was observed when data from the adolescents and adults were combined (P = 0.027), an effect that may be due to differences at baseline.

In conclusion, the primary hypothesis that UMTS radiation reduces general performance in the TMB test was not confirmed. However, we suggest that the hypothesis of subjective symptoms and EMF exposure needs further research.

Please e-mail comments, information and updates to DON MAISCH: