Radiation Protection


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EMR Literature Survey - January 2016

Does exposure to environmental radiofrequency electromagnetic fields cause cognitive and behavioral effects in 10-year-old boys?

By: Calvente I, Perez-Lobato R, Nunez MI, Ramos R, Guxens M, Villalba J, Olea N, Fernandez MF
Published in: Bioelectromagnetics 2016; 37 (1): 25 - 36


This is a cross-sectional study that investigated the effects of low level radiofrequency (RF) radiation on cognitive and behavioural functions in children. A subset of 123 boys aged 9-11 years that originally enrolled in a cohort study was surveyed and evaluated for their cognitive and behavioural functions. Environmental RF exposure was assessed via spot measurements at the residences of the participants. The median power density level was 285.94 microwatts per meter-squared (μW/m2), which is hundreds of times below the public exposure limit in the Australian RF Standard. The authors found no overall effects on cognitive and behavioural functions.


Commentary by ARPANSA

Two cohort studies that investigated behavioural problems in children where the mothers had maternal RF exposure from wireless phones have reported little or no evidence of behavioural effects in the offspring (reported as feature articles in February 2010 and February 2013 reports).

Two human provocation studies done in children on cognitive functions did not find any effects (Haarala et al, 2004 and Preece et al, 2005) as reported in the Health Effects from Radiofrequency Electromagnetic Fields report by the Advisory Group on Non-Ionising Radiation.

A cross-sectional study on cognitive effects from RF radiation in adolescents (reported as a feature article in August 2010) found that increased exposure of RF radiation causes changes in cognitive functions. However the authors noted that the self-assessment of wireless phone use to be the major limitation of the study.

This study by Calvente et al which also follows a cross-sectional design is prone to many methodological limitations which were noted by the authors. Although the exposure assessment was done via measurements, they were spot measurements outside the residences of the study participants, which may not be an adequate surrogate of individual exposure. Furthermore, cross-sectional studies assess the relationship between the exposure and outcome at one time point only hence it is very difficult to draw conclusions from the results.

Absence of acute ocular damage in humans after prolonged exposure to intense RF EMF

By: Adibzadeh F et al
Published in: Phys Med Biol 2015; 61 (2): 488 - 503


This is a human provocation study which investigated whether the RF heating effects cause harm to human eyes. The study involved 16 head and neck cancer patients that were treated by hyperthermia, which used intense RF radiation at a frequency of 434 megahertz (for 60 minutes per treatment). The effects of stray radiation received by the eyes were examined. The peak local specific absorption rate (SAR) and temperature increase in the eye was at least 62 watts per kilogram (W/kg) (6.2 times the limit of the Australian Standard) and 1.8°C (the Australian Standard is providing protection against temperature increase of 1°C), respectively. There were no serious ocular effects even though the subjects were overexposed. The authors concluded that the current international guidelines on RF (to which the Australian Standard is aligned) provide adequate protection against adverse health effects.


Mobile phone use and risk of glioma: a case-control study in Korea for 2002-2007

By: Yoon S et al
Published in: Environ Health Toxicol 2015: in press


This case-control study investigated the association between RF radiation from mobile phones and a type of brain cancer. A total of 285 glioma patients (cases) and 285 controls were recruited in the study. Information on mobile phone use was obtained via questionnaires. The authors reported no statistically significant increased risk with the cumulative hours of mobile phone use at the same side of the head as the tumour (odds ratio, OR = 1.77; 95% confidence interval, 95% CI = 0.32 – 1.84), when compared to the use at the other side of the head. The authors concluded that there was no association between gliomas and mobile phone use.


Occupational exposure to magnetic fields and breast cancer among Canadian men

By: Grundy A et al
Published in: Cancer Med 2016: in press


This population-based case-control study tried to examine the association between occupational exposures to extremely low frequency (ELF) magnetic fields (MF) and breast cancer in men. A total of 115 cases and 570 controls participated in the study. The MF exposure was estimated via expert assessment, using the information on participants’ job histories, where the average MF exposure for individual jobs was classified into three categories (less than 0.3, 0.3 to less than 0.6, and 0.6 microtesla, μT or more). There was a non-significant increased risk of breast cancer in men who were exposed to 0.6 μT or more (OR = 1.80, 95% CI = 0.82-3.95) when compared to the group exposed to less than 0.3 μT. The study found inconsistent association between occupational MF exposure and breast cancer in men.


Does prolonged radiofrequency radiation emitted from Wi-Fi devices induce DNA damage in various tissues of rats?

By: Akdag MZ et al
Published in: J Chem Neuroanat 2016: in press


This animal study investigated whether low level RF radiation from Wi-Fi causes any adverse health effects. Sixteen rats were divided into two groups (sham and exposed) and experimented for one year. The RF exposure was at a frequency of 2.4 gigahertz and whole-body average SAR of 0.141 milliwatts/kg (which is 0.18% of the limit in the Australian Standard). The DNA damage on the rat’s brain, liver, kidney, skin and testicular tissues were quantified. The authors found a statistically significant increase in DNA damage only in the testicular tissues of the exposed group. The authors therefore conclude that the testes are more sensitive to RF radiation than the other organs studied.


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