Bulletin of the World Health Organization

Systematic review on the health effects of exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields from mobile phone base stations

Martin Röösli, Patrizia Frei, Evelyn Mohler & Kerstin Hug

Objective

To review and evaluate the recent literature on the health effects of exposure to mobile phone base station (MPBS) radiation.

Methods

We performed a systematic review of randomized human trials conducted in laboratory settings and of epidemiological studies that investigated the health effects of MPBS radiation in the everyday environment.

Findings

We included in the analysis 17 articles that met our basic quality criteria: 5 randomized human laboratory trials and 12 epidemiological studies. The majority of the papers (14) examined self-reported non-specific symptoms of ill-health. Most of the randomized trials did not detect any association between MPBS radiation and the development of acute symptoms during or shortly after exposure. The sporadically observed associations did not show a consistent pattern with regard to symptoms or types of exposure. We also found that the more sophisticated the exposure assessment, the less likely it was that an effect would be reported. Studies on health effects other than non-specific symptoms and studies on MPBS exposure in children were scarce.

Conclusion

The evidence for a missing relationship between MPBS exposure up to 10 volts per metre and acute symptom development can be considered strong because it is based on randomized, blinded human laboratory trials. At present, there is insufficient data to draw firm conclusions about health effects from long-term low-level exposure typically occurring in the everyday environment.

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