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EMR Literature Survey - December 2016

Effects of personalised exposure on self-rated electromagnetic hypersensitivity and sensibility – A double-blind randomised controlled trial

By: van Moorselaar I, Slottje P, Heller P, van Strien R, Kromhout H, Murbach M, Kuster N, Vermeulen R, Huss A
Published in: Environ Int 2016


This human provocation study investigated whether electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS) is associated with electromagnetic fields (EMF) exposure. A total of 42 persons who identified themselves as EHS participated. The first part of the study involved exposing the participants to various EMF signals (radiofrequency, RF at mobile phone/Wi-Fi/cordless phone frequencies or extremely low frequency magnetic fields, ELF MF at power frequency) to determine the level (up to 6 volts per meter, V/m for RF and up to 6.6 microtesla µT for ELF MF) and the type of EMF signal to which each participant reported being sensitive. Once the type of EMF and level was set, each participant underwent second testing in a double-blind manner, and the sequence of sham and exposure conditions was randomised. The authors found that the EHS individuals were not able to distinguish exposure from sham conditions better than chance.


Commentary by ARPANSA

The study by van Moorselaar et al is one of a few studies which have employed the strategy of conducting the experiment at the study participants’ chosen place (mostly their homes), aimed to reduce the anxiety associated with being tested in an unfamiliar place e.g. the laboratory.

As mentioned in an ARPANSA Fact Sheet on EHS, several studies have indicated that the nocebo effect (an adverse effect due to the belief that something is harmful) may cause some individuals to associate the EMF exposure to the occurrence of their health symptoms. The study by van Moorselaar et al found that over four months of follow-up after the double-blind testing, the EHS individuals who participated in the study and were aware of the results had reported fewer symptoms and reduced severity of symptoms. The authors suggested that this improvement in their health symptoms may be due to a participation effect. This implied that EHS individuals could benefit from this type of testing by hypothetically reducing the nocebo responses.

Effect of electromagnetic waves from mobile phone on immune status of male rats: possible protective role of vitamin D

By: El-Gohary OA et al
Published in: Can J Physiol Pharmacol 2016


This animal study investigated the effect of mobile phone use on the immune system. A total of 48 rats were divided into six groups and kept for 30 days: (i) sham-exposed; (ii) given vitamin D only; (iii) exposed for 1 hour per day (h/day); (iv) exposed for 2 h/day; (v) exposed for 1 h/day and given vitamin D; (vi) exposed for 2 h/day and given vitamin D. The exposure was at a frequency of 900 megahertz (MHz) and at a specific absorption rate (SAR) of 0.9 watts per kilogram (W/kg) which is 45% of the public exposure limit in the Australian Standard. The authors found that RF exposure negatively affected the immune system and that vitamin D may have reversed the negative effect induced by the exposure.


Does cell phone use increase the chances of parotid gland tumor development? A systematic review and meta-analysis

By: de Siqueira EC, de Souza FT, Gomez RS, Gomes CC, de Souza RP
Published in: J Oral Pathol Med 2016


This is a meta-analysis of studies investigating the use of mobile phone and parotid gland tumour. A total of three case-control studies (which captured 5,087 subjects in total) were included in the analysis. Mobile phone use was associated with an increased risk of developing parotid gland tumour (odds ratio, OR = 1.28, 95% confidence intervals, 95% CI = 1.09 – 1.51). The authors concluded that mobile phone use may be associated with parotid gland tumour.


RF-EMF exposure at 1800 MHz did not elicit DNA damage or abnormal cellular behaviors in different neurogenic cells

By: Su L et al
Published in: Bioelectromagnetics 2016


This is an in vitro study that looked into the relationship between RF exposure and DNA damage. The study used different cells found in the human nervous system, where they were exposed intermittently to RF (5 minutes on and 10 minutes off) at a frequency of 1800 MHz and SAR of 4 W/kg (twice the public exposure limit in the Australian RF Standard) for 1, 6, or 24 hours. The authors found that RF exposure above the public exposure limit did not cause DNA damage or any abnormal cellular behaviour.


Assessment of General Public Exposure to LTE signals compared to other Cellular Networks Present in Thessaloniki, Greece

By: Gkonis F et al
Published in: Radiat Prot Dosimetry 2016


This is a measurement study which assessed the RF exposure resulting from the long term evolution (LTE) of mobile phone technology. Measurements at ten mobile phone base stations were conducted, and the LTE signals were compared to other mobile phone technologies. The average and maximum power density contribution of LTE signals to the overall mobile phone networks signals were found to be 7.8% and 36.7%, respectively. The authors concluded that the RF exposure from LTE was far below the public exposure limit in the international EMF guidelines developed by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (PDF 647 kb), which is in line with the Australian Standard. The highest LTE exposure recorded was 0.645 V/m, which is less than 2% of the public exposure limit of the Australian Standard.


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