Electric hypersensitivity and neurophysiological effects of cellular phones - facts or needless anxiety?

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The purpose of this study was to evaluate the short-term effects of the electromagnetic fields (EMF) of mobile phones on human auditory brainstem responses. This prospective study of healthy adults evaluated the influence of EMF. Eighteen healthy adult volunteers participated in this study. Mobile telephones emitting signals in the region of 900 MHz and with the highest SAR value of 0.82 W/kg were positioned in direct contact to the right ear, which was exposed to the phone signal for 15 min before and after ABR testing with click stimuli of 60 and 80 dB nHL intensities. The latencies of the waves and interwave latencies were measured on screen by an experienced audiologist. The differences of the mean latencies of waves I, III and IV were not significant in initial and post-exposure ABR measurements at both 60 and 80 dB nHL stimulus levels ( P >0.05). Similarly, differences of the mean interwave intervals I-III, I-V and III-V remained insignificant at the initial and postexposure ABR measurements at stimulus levels of both 60 and 80 dB nHL ( P >0.05). Acute exposure to the EMF of mobile phones does not cause perturbations in ABR latencies. However, these negative results should not encourage excessive mobile communication, because minor biological and neurophysiological influences may not be detectable by the current technology.
Electric fields (E-fields) induced within a phantom head from exposure to three different advanced mobile phone system (AMPS) hand-held telephones were measured using an implantable E-field probe. Measurements were taken in the eye nearest the phone and along a lateral scan through the brain from its centre to the side nearest the phone. During measurement, the phones were positioned alongside the phantom head as in typical use and were configured to transmit at maximum power (600 mW nominal). The specific absorption rate (SAR) was calculated from the in situ E-field measurements, which varied significantly between phone models and antenna configuration. The SARs induced in the eye ranged from 0.007 to 0.21 W/kg. Metal-framed spectacles enhanced SAR levels in the eye by 9-29%. In the brain, maximum levels were recorded at the measurement point closest to the phone and ranged from 0.12 to 0.83 W/kg. These SARs are below peak spatial limits recommended in the U.S. and Australian national standards [IEEE Standards Coordinating Committee 28 (1991): C95.1-1991 and Standards Australia (1990): AS2772.1-1990] and the IRPA guidelines for safe exposure to radio frequency (RF) electromagnetic fields [IRPA (1988): Health Phys 54:115-123]. Furthermore, a detailed thermal analysis of the eye indicated only a 0.022 degrees C maximum steady-state temperature rise in the eye from a uniform SAR loading of 0.21 W/kg. A more approximate thermal analysis in the brain also indicated only a small maximum temperature rise of 0.034 degrees C for a local SAR loading of 0.83 W/kg.
The present study examined possible influences of a 902 MHz electromagnetic field emitted by cellular telephones on cognitive functioning in 48 healthy humans. A battery of 12 reaction time tasks was performed twice by each participant in a counterbalanced order: once with and once without the exposure to the field. The results showed that the exposure to the electromagnetic field speeded up response times in simple reaction time and vigilance tasks and that the cognitive time needed in a mental arithmetics task was decreased. The results suggest that exposure to the electromagnetic field emitted by cellular telephones may have a facilitatory effect on brain functioning, especially in tasks requiring attention and manipulation of information in working memory.