I read with great interest an article by Nayyeri et al “Assessment of RF radiation levels in the vicinity of 60 GSM mobile phone base stations in Iran”, published in the latest issue of Radiation Protection Dosimetry Journal (1). The authors of the article reported some interesting measurements of radiofrequency (RF) radiation levels from 60 GSM base stations. Although Nayyeri et al have not studied the health effects of exposure to different levels of RF in people living near mobile phone base stations, they vigorously reported that these radiation are not detrimental “The results were compared with the relevant guideline of International Commission on Non-Ionising Radiation Protection and that of Iran, confirming radiation exposure levels being satisfactorily below defined limits and non-detrimental”. Over the past years our laboratory has focused on studying the health effects of exposure of laboratory animals and humans to some common sources of electromagnetic fields such as mobile phones (2-8) and their base stations (9), laptop computers (10) and MRI (11). It has been reported that human exposure to high frequency (HF) fields in the vicinity of mobile phone base stations is 2-4 order of magnitudes below the currently valid limit values. Factors such as the distance from mobile phone base stations, direction of the main beam, shielding by buildings and some of the other parameters determine the magnitude of these exposure levels (12). However, we and other investigators have previously come to this conclusion that mobile phone base stations at least should not be installed in the vicinity of the places in which high risk susceptible individuals usually stay (nurseries, kindergartens, schools and hospitals). Santini et al. in 2002 found significant health effects in individuals living within 300 meters of mobile phone base stations. They concluded that mobile phone base stations should not be installed closer than 300 meters from inhabited areas (13). On the other hand, when subjective complaints of the individuals residing in the vicinity of mobile phone base stations are taken into account, there are published reports that show a significant correlation between subjective symptoms and the distance between houses and mobile base stations. Recently, in Poland, Bortkiewicz et al. have reported that while headache was declared by 57% of their study participants, 36.4% lived 100-150 meters away from the base stations. Furthermore, 24.4% of the subjects, mostly living at a distance above 150 m, reported memory problems (14). In Germany also, Blettner et al. have indicated that participants living in the vicinity of a mobile base station (d<500m) as well as those who were concerned about reported slightly more health complaints than other participants (15). Austrian scientists also reported that while it was impossible to determine a threshold below which no effect occurs, mobile base station power densities must be above 0.5–1 mW/m2 to observe health effects (16). Altogether, as reported by Sorgucu and Develi, in spite of the fact that mobile base stations’ radiofrequency levels do not exceed the international limits, if people are exposed to these very low-intensity electromagnetic fields for a very long time, serious health problems can occur (17).
Keywords: Adaptive Response, Dose Window, Ionizing Radiation, Non-ionizing radiation, Radiofrequency (RF)
Prof. SMJ Mortazavi, Ph.D
Prof. SMJ Mortazavi, Ph.D
Medical Physics & Medical Engineering Department, The Head
The Center for Research on Radiological Sciences, The Head
Medical Physics & Medical Engineering Department
School of Medicine,
Shiraz University of Medical Sciences
Tel: ±98-711-2349332, Fax1: ±98-711-2349332
1. Nayyeri, V., Hashemi, S. M., Borna, M., Jalilian, H. R. and Soleimani, M. Assessment of RF Radiation Levels in the Vicinity of 60 GSM Mobile Phone Base Stations in Iran”, published in the latest issue of Radiation Protection Dosimetry(2013).
2. Mortazavi, S. M. J., Ahmadi, J. and Shariati, M. Prevalence of subjective poor health symptoms associated with exposure to electromagnetic fields among University students. Bioelectromagnetics. 28, 326-330 (2007).
3. Mortazavi, S. M., Mahbudi, A., Atefi, M., Bagheri, S., Bahaedini, N. and Besharati, A. An old issue and a new look: electromagnetic hypersensitivity caused by radiations emitted by GSM mobile phones. Technol Health Care. 19, 435-43 (2011).
4. Mortazavi, S. M., Rouintan, M. S., Taeb, S., Dehghan, N., Ghaffarpanah, A. A., Sadeghi, Z. and Ghafouri, F. Human short-term exposure to electromagnetic fields emitted by mobile phones decreases computer-assisted visual reaction time. Acta Neurol Belg(2012).
5. Mortazavi, S. M. J., Mosleh-Shirazi, M. A., Tavassoli, A. R., Taheri, M., Mehdizadeh, A. R., Namazi, S. A. S., Jamali, A., Ghalandari, R., Bonyadi, S., Shafie, M. et al. Increased Radioresistance to Lethal Doses of Gamma Rays in Mice and Rats after Exposure to Microwave Radiation Emitted by a GSM Mobile Phone Simulator. Dose Response. in press(2012).
6. Mortazavi, S. M., Vazife-Doost, S., Yaghooti, M., Mehdizadeh, S. and Rajaie-Far, A. Occupational exposure of dentists to electromagnetic fields produced by magnetostrictive cavitrons alters the serum cortisol level. J Nat Sci Biol Med. 3, 60-4 (2012).
7. Mortazavi, S. M. J., Mosleh-Shirazi, M. A., Tavassoli, A. R., Taheri, M., Bagheri, Z., Ghalandari, R., Bonyadi, S., Shafie, M. and Haghani, M. A comparative study on the increased radioresistance to lethal doses of gamma rays after exposure to microwave radiation and oral intake of flaxseed oil. Iranian Journal of Radiation Research. 9, 9-14 (2011).
8. Mortazavi, S. M. J., Motamedifar, M., Namdari, G., Taheri, M. and Mortazavi, A. R. Counterbalancing immunosuppression-induced infections during long-term stay of humans in space. Journal of Medical Hypotheses and Ideas. 7, 8–10 (2013).
9. Mortazavi, S. M. J., Rezaiean, M., Atighi, S. and Sharifi, E. Study of the frequency of subjective symptoms in people living near mobile phone base stations. (Rafsanjan: Rafsanjan University of Medical Sciences) (2007).
10. Mortazavi, S. M. J., Tavassoli, A., Ranjbari, F. and Moammaiee, P. Effects of Laptop Computers' Electromagnetic Field on Sperm Quality. J Reprod Infertil. 11, 251-258 (2010).
11. Mortazavi, S. M. J., Daiee, E., Yazdi, A., Khiabani, K., Kavousi, A., Vazirinejad, R., Behnejad, B., Ghasemi, M. and Balali Mood, M. Mercury release from dental amalgam restorations after magnetic resonance imaging and following mobile phone use. Pakistan Journal of Biological Sciences. 11, 1142-1146 (2008).
12. Otto, M. and von Muhlendahl, K. E. Electromagnetic fields (EMF): do they play a role in children's environmental health (CEH)? Int J Hyg Environ Health. 210, 635-44 (2007).
13. Santini, R., Santini, P., Danze, J. M., Le Ruz, P. and Seigne, M. [Investigation on the health of people living near mobile telephone relay stations: I/Incidence according to distance and sex]. Pathol Biol (Paris). 50, 369-73 (2002).
14. Bortkiewicz, A., Gadzicka, E., Szyjkowska, A., Politanski, P., Mamrot, P., Szymczak, W. and Zmyslony, M. Subjective complaints of people living near mobile phone base stations in Poland. Int J Occup Med Environ Health. 25, 31-40 (2012).
15. Blettner, M., Schlehofer, B., Breckenkamp, J., Kowall, B., Schmiedel, S., Reis, U., Potthoff, P., Schuz, J. and Berg-Beckhoff, G. Mobile phone base stations and adverse health effects: phase 1 of a population-based, cross-sectional study in Germany. Occup Environ Med. 66, 118-23 (2009).
16. Kundi, M. and Hutter, H. P. Mobile phone base stations-Effects on wellbeing and health. Pathophysiology. 16, 123-35 (2009).
17. Sorgucu, U. and Develi, I. Measurement and analysis of electromagnetic pollution generated by GSM-900 mobile phone networks in Erciyes University, Turkey. Electromagn Biol Med. 31, 404-15 (2012).