Augner C, Hacker GW. (2009). Are people living next to mobile phone base stations more strained? Relationship of health concerns, self-estimated distance to base station, and psychological parameters. Indian J Occup Environ Med. 13(3):141-5.
Some people living near mobile phone base stations report symptoms (mostly unspecific) that they attribute to electromagnetic fields (EMFs). Whether these symptoms are due to EMFs is a matter of public and scientific discussions. Evidence suggests that the symptoms are associated with a variety of psychological and psychobiological parameters.
The objective of this study was to determine if people who believe that they live close to base stations have psychological or psychobiological features indicative of more stress or strain. Another objective was to determine how parameters, such as self-estimated distance from home to the base station, daily use of mobile phone, EMF-health concerns, “electromagnetic hypersensitivity” (EHS), psychological strain and psychobiological stress parameters, are related to each other.
There were 57 participants in the study (22 males and 35 females, average age 40.7 years, age range 18-67 years). The participants completed 4 standardized questionnaires (the symptom checklist SCL-90-R, a standardized questionnaire to assess physical troubles (B-L), a standardized state anxiety questionnaire STAI, a well-being questionnaire MDBF) and a self-administered questionnaire on EMF health concerns. Saliva was collected after the survey to determine concentration of alpha-amylase, cortisol, immunoglobulin A (IgA) and substance P as indicators of psychobiological strain.
Daily use of mobile phone was not related to the tested psychological or psychobiological parameters; it was significantly correlated only with substance P concentration. Self-estimated distance from base station was significantly correlated with somatization, anxiety, phobic anxiety (subscales of SCL), and with the SCL sum score of Positive Symptom Total (PST). There was no correlation between distance from base station and EMF-related health concerns. When distance from base station was dichotomized ( ≤100 meters, n=14 and >100 meters, n=22, excluding “do not know” answers), self-reported base station neighbors (≤100 meters) had significantly higher concentrations of alpha-amylase in their saliva, higher rates in SCL subscales, somatization, obsessive-compulsive, anxiety, phobic anxiety, and global strain index PST, and higher values for state anxiety. There was no significant difference in EMF-related health concerns between the distance base station ≤100meters and >100meters groups.
Interpretation and Conclusion
The authors have concluded that self-declared base station neighbors are more strained than others, and this cannot be explained by EMF-related health concerns. Further research is needed to identify factors responsible for this difference.