Zwamborn APM, Vossen SHJA, van Leersum BJAM, Ouwens MA, Makel WN (2003):

The authors' goal was to determine whether a relationship exists between electromagnetic fields (EMFS) and subjective complaints and cognitive function.

Thirty-six subjects (Group A) were recruited who had reported complaints that they attributed to GSM exposure from base station antennas. Another 36 subjects (Group B) without these complaints also participated. All subjects took part in a training session in which they completed questionnaires that examined well-being, and also carried out five tests of cognitive function. Each subject was randomly allocated, according to a balanced block randomization, to be exposed to a sham exposure and two of three possible EMFs. The frequencies used were 900 MHz, 1800 MHz (GSM-like), and 2100 MHz (UMTS-like). The latter are used with the "third generation" mobile phones. EM field strengths were used "that can be considered a maximum value that can be found occasionally in a general living environment". The SARs were between 0.064 and 0.078 mW/kg. After each exposure the subjects again completed the questionnaires and repeated the tests of cognitive function. A double-blind design was used.

The results showed statistically significant differences, when compared with sham exposure, in the well-being questionnaire for the UMTS-like frequency in Group A for sum score, anxiety, somatic complaints, inadequacy symptoms and hostility symptoms. Group B subjects showed significant differences in sum score and inadequacy rating. The 900 MHz exposure was associated with a significant difference in Group B for hostility symptoms.

In the cognitive function tests, an increase in reaction time was seen in the 900 MHz exposure for Group A, and in the UMTS exposure in Group B. In contrast to this increase in reaction time, there was a significant decrease in the time for some of the other tasks. This was seen especially in Group B in the 1800 and 2100 MHz frequencies.

The authors point out that they had a completely controlled electromagnetic environment, unlike some other studies in which measurements could have been influenced by other EM sources. They emphasize that the differences found in some of the tests are small and need to be reproduced by others. It should be noted that there is a lack of consistency in the results - in some cases significant differences are found after exposure to some frequencies but not others. Also, the increase in reaction time in two of the frequencies is at odds with the decrease in response times in other tests. Finally, Group A subjects tended to have more significant differences in the well-being questionnaires than Group B, while the reverse was true for tests of cognitive function.

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