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March 2009

Cell phone use and the risks of developing central nervous system diseases such as migraine, vertigo, dementia, and Parkinson disease.

The Schüz et al paper investigates the relationship between cell phone use and the health risks for central nervous system (CNS) diseases. The data was collected in a nationwide cohort study in Denmark of 420,095 individuals who started using a cell phone between 1982 and 1995 and were followed until 2003 for a diagnostic of CNS diseases. Results are summarized by the standardized hospitalization ratios (# of CNS diseases in the cohort divided by expected # in the Danish population). The ratios were 10-20% higher for migraine and vertigo only and they were 30-40% lower for dementia, Parkinson disease and epilepsy in men. Analyses for users of 10 years or more did not produce different results than the regular users only. The authors conclude that the higher numbers for migraine and vertigo needs to be reproduced in other studies. A healthy cohort effect and bias could explain the lack of association for dementia and Parkinson disease.

Schüz J, Waldemar G, Olsen JH, Johansen C (2009) Risks for Central Nervous System Diseases among Mobile Phone Subscribers: A Danish Retrospective Cohort Study. PLoS ONE 4(2): e4389. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0004389.

For more see “Research – epidemiological – cell phone studies
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Fetal and neonatal changes in heart rate and cardiac output following maternal exposure to mobile phones

The objective of the study was to assess the effect of acute maternal exposure to radiofrequency fields emitted by cell phones on fetal and neonatal heart rate and cardiac output.  The subjects were 90 pregnant women between 18 and 33 years old (fetal effect) and 30 full term newborn infants (neonatal effect). Cell phone exposure by telephone-dialing mode was for duration of 10 minutes during pregnancy and after birth. Results indicate that both fetal and neonatal heart rates were statistically increased but stroke volume and cardiac output were both statistically decrease after mobile phone exposure. Changes were diminished when gestational age increased. The conclusion of the Rezk et al paper states that pregnant women exposed to mobile phone electromagnetic fields can significantly increase fetal and neonatal heart rate, and significantly decreased the cardiac output.

Rezk AY, Abdulqawi K, Mustafa RM, Abo El-Azm TM, Al-Inany H. (2008). Fetal and neonatal responses following maternal exposure to mobile phones. Saudi Med J. 29(2):218-223.

For more see “Research – clinical – cardiovascular
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SAR and electric field measurements in close proximity of mobile phone base stations and usefulness for compliance check

The objective of the study was to study and measure specific absorption rate (SAR) and unperturbed electric field from exposure to close proximity to 6 mobile phone base stations. A secondary objective was to use the results of the measurements for electric field to verify compliance for local exposure. Results do indicate that electric field measurement by itself can be useful to check for compliance to local exposure, and for all distances and antenna types tested. When local peak value of electric field was compared directly to the ICNIRP reference level for unperturbed electric field, a slight overestimation of 1.1 was seen for exposure against the standard restriction for localized SAR in humans. Results also show that the limit for localized exposure could be exceeded before the limit for the whole-body average SAR for distances closer to 240 mm from the base station antenna.

Toivonen T, Toivo T, Puranen L, Jokela K. Specific absorption rate and electric field measurements in the near field of six mobile phone base stations antennas. Bioelectromagnetics 4 Feb 2009 Ahead of print.

For more see “Research – exposure assessment
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No association between exposure to base station and well-being in children

The objective of the MobilEe study was to directly measure personal exposure to mobile phone base stations in 1,433 children aged 8 to 12 years and the possible health effects. Exposure was measured using the personal dosimeter ESM-140 where measurements were recorded each second for a period of 24 hours (total= 86,400 measurements). The functional classification approach, to differentiate between the complex exposure profiles, resulted in dividing the exposure data into two groups; children with low exposure (88%) and higher exposure (12%). Potential health effects were determined during the last 6 months in an interview and included headache, irritation, nervousness, dizziness, fatigue, fear, and sleeping problems. The results indicate that there was no association between the categorized exposure and well-being. The authors conclude that their results suggest that the exposure to mobile phone base station for close to 10% of the children was considerably different compared to the remaining sample of subjects.

Kühnlein A, Heumann C, Thomas S, Heinrich S, Radon K. Personal exposure to mobile communication networks and well-being in children – A statistical analysis based on a functional approach. Bioelectromagnetics 29 jan 2009 Ahead of print.

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Is there a need to revise the reference for electromagnetic safety guidelines?

This paper suggest that the reference levels of current electromagnetic (EM) safety guidelines for demonstrating compliance as well as some of the current measurement standards are not consistent with the basic restrictions and need to be revised.

Kühn S, Jennings W, Christ A, Kuster N. (2009). Assessment of induced radio-frequency electromagnetic fields in various anatomical human body models. Phys. Med.Biol. 54 875-890.  

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The chest receives the highest levels of current during radiofrequency radiation

Numerical techniques offer the possibility of obtaining current distribution in human bodies and provide a simple and inexpensive method to evaluate specific absorption rate (SAR) distributions for various standards and guideline bodies. This paper found that the highest currents distributed in the human body due to radiofrequency radiation from a cellular base station occur in the area of the chest.

Chen HY, Chuang CY.  (2009). Currents Induced in Human Bodies During Radiofrequency Exposure Near a Cellular Phone Base Station.  Electromagnetics 29(1) 13-23.

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Errors associated with body-worn RF dosimeters

Understanding and predicting in which way the presence of the human body alters the plane wave propagation is a fundamental aspect when a dosimeter is used for the assessment of personal exposure in epidemiological studies. In this paper, an analysis of the surface electric field on a human body based on finite-difference time-domain (FDTD) simulations is presented. The variations in the electric field strength at each frequency are negligible where the dosimeter would be located.

Bahillo A, Blas J, Fernandez P, Mazuelas S, Vinuela A, Lorenzo RM, Abril EJ. (2008). E-field assessment errors associated with RF dosemeters for different angles of arrival. Radiat Prot Dos 132(1):51-56.

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Survey of health complaints and mobile phone use in medical students

The objective of the study was to assess whether mobile phone use was associated with numerous health symptoms in young people. The study collected information via a questionnaire that contained questions on health conditions, health complaints, and on the usage of mobile phones. A total of 286 questionnaires were completed (response rate=86.6%). The results indicate that many subjects (83.57%) knew about the potential health effects of mobile phone use. More than 75% of students owned a mobile phone and approximately 25% had more than one phone. A little more than 15% of the subjects suffered headaches, a quarter suffered of fatigue, 35% impaired concentration, 41% of memory disturbances, 39% of sleeplessness, 23% of hearing problems, and 16% suffered of facial dermatitis.  A percentage of subjects (44.4%) attributed their symptoms to the use of mobile phone. The author concluded that the results of this study indicate that mobile phones play a large part in everyday life of medical students and its impact on psychology and health should be discussed with them. However, the author also notes that more long-term research is needed because this research topic is relatively new.

Khan MM. (2008): Adverse effects of excessive mobile phone use. Int J Occup Med Environ Health. 21(4):289-93.

For more see “Research – clinical – general
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