Andrew Wood, Rohan Mate and Ken Karipidis.


ARPANSA and Swinburne University of Technology.


Journal of exposure science & environmental epidemiology


March 2021


With the roll-out of new technologies such as 5G, there has been renewed community concern regarding the adequacy of research on possible health effects from associated radiofrequency radiation, mainly in the millimetre wave (MMW) band. We conducted a meta-analysis of in vitro and in vivo studies investigating bioeffects of MMWs at low exposure levels.


We identified 107 in vitro and in vivo studies investigating MMWs and biological effects in which the power density employed has been below 100 W/m2, which is below the current standards for occupational local exposures. Where possible, we estimated the magnitude of the principal effect reported or set this magnitude to zero in studies reporting no significant effects. We also estimated the quality of the studies, based on a methodology used in previous analyses.


We show a negative correlation between effect size and both power density and specific absorption rate. There was also a significant negative correlation between effect size and quality score. A multivariate analysis revealed that there is an increase in the effect size for certain biological systems being investigated and laboratories in which the work was carried out whilst the quality score for some of these tends to be low. We note that many of the studies were motivated by a desire to elucidate the possible mechanisms in therapeutic devices rather than assessing the safety of telecommunications systems. Finally, it appears that the presence or absence of modulation does not influence the reported effect size.

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