van Rongen E, Croft R, Juutilainen J, Lagroye I, Miyakoshi J, Saunders R, de Seze R, Tenforde T, Verschaeve L, Veyret B, Xu Z. (2009) Effects of radiofrequency electromagnetic fields on the human nervous system. J Toxicol Environ Health B Crit Rev. 12(8):572-97.
Introduction and Objective
In this paper, the ICNIRP Standing Committee on Biology presents their review of studies on the effects of exposure to radiofrequency radiation on nervous system in human volunteers. For ethical reasons, all investigations in human volunteers are restricted to only transient physiological phenomena at relatively low exposure levels; the duration of exposure is often short and the number of subjects examined is relatively small. Study subjects may not be fully representative of the general population. It is possible that effects harmless in the laboratory conditions may have adverse health consequences in occupational or environmental settings if experienced for long periods. Nevertheless, volunteer studies can indicate the likely responses of humans to exposure under investigation and provide valuable information on physiological effects of the exposure in healthy people and in some specific groups, such as people with self-reported sensitivity to EMF exposure.
The authors reviewed studies published after 1993, the year when the World Health Organization (WHO) issued the Environmental Health Criteria monograph on EMF in the range 300 Hz-300 GHz. The studies were conducted in healthy adult volunteers, in adults who attribute their subjective symptoms to electromagnetic radiation exposure, in children and adolescents. The endpoints included electrical activity of the brain, regional cerebral blood flow, cognitive function (e.g. memory, attention, and concentration), auditory and vestibular function, subjective symptoms (headaches, fatigue etc.).
Results and Interpretation
The results of the studies reviewed in this paper suggest minor effects of radiofrequency exposure on the waking electroencephalogram (EEG) and on sleep EEG, on regional cerebral blood flow during and following radiofrequency exposure. However, there is no evidence that these effects may have any influence on health or indicate health impairment. No evidence of an effect of radiofrequency radiation exposure on cognitive performance or on auditory and vestibular function was observed. There was no indication of higher sensitivity to radiofrequency radiation of children or individuals with EMF-attributed symptoms. A causal relation between EMF exposure and subjective symptoms (headaches, fatigue, skin itches, etc.) was not demonstrated in provocation studies; psychological factors likely play a role in this condition.
Though there is some indication of minor effects of radiofrequency radiation exposure on electrical brain activity and regional cerebral blood flow, the studies reviewed in this paper do not provide evidence of adverse health effects of this exposure.