EMF Health-effects Research

Electromagnetic interference of analog cellular telephones with pacemakers

Barbaro V, Bartolini P, Donato A, Militello C,

Pacing Clin Electrophysiol 19(10):1410-1418, 1996

The aim of this study was to verify whether there is a public health risk from the interference of analog cellular telephones with pacemakers. We used a human trunk simulator to reproduce an actual implant, and two cellular telephones working with the TACS (Total Access Communication System) standard.

Results showed that the electromagnetic field radiated from the analog cellular telephones interfered with a large number of the pacemakers tested (10/25). When the telephone antenna was in close proximity to the pacemaker head, pacemaker desensitizing and sensitizing and pulse inhibition was detected at the moment of an incoming call and throughout ringing. In the worst case of pulse inhibition, the pacemaker skipped three nonconsecutive beats and then resumed its normal pacing, while the desensitizing and sensitizing phenomena persisted as long as the interfering signal was on. Pulse inhibition was also observed when the connection did not succeed. Maximum sensing threshold variation was about 186% (increase) and 62% (decrease) for desensitizing and sensitizing phenomena, respectively.

It was also demonstrated that the signal emitted by analog cellular telephones during the crossing of contiguous cells could induce pacemaker pulse inhibition, but under our experimental conditions this event did not seem to pose a risk for the pacemaker patient.

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