A team of independent scientists at the University of Essex tested 44 people who had previously reported symptoms or sensitivity to mobile phone technology, and 114 people who had not reported any health effects (controls), at a specially-designed laboratory.
The three-year study found that physiological measures such as heart rate, blood pressure and skin conductance were not affected by whether the mast was switched on or off, and did not detect any significant effects in either sensitive or control participants between GSM (conventional) exposure and no exposure.
When both sensitive and control participants were exposed to a 3G (UMTS) signal, neither the physiological measures nor the number of reported symptoms increased. However, the sensitive group did report increased levels of arousal when exposed to 3G, but further analysis suggested that this was related to the fact that a higher proportion of sensitive people received the UMTS signal during their first 50-minute testing session. All other measures did not differ between the 3G and the sham conditions.
All participants were tested in several different sessions. In open provocation tests, when both participant and experimenter knew whether the signal was on or off, sensitive individuals reported lower levels of well-being and more symptoms when the signal was on. This confirmed that the laboratory conditions did not prevent them from experiencing typical symptoms in response to mobile phone masts.
However, when tests were carried out under double-blind conditions, where neither experimenter nor participant knew whether the signal was on or off, the number of symptoms reported was not related to whether the mast was on or off. Two of the 44 sensitive individuals correctly judged whether the mast was on or off in all six tests, compared with five out of 114 control participants. This proportion is what is expected by chance and was not increased in the sensitive group.
The study found that, compared with controls, sensitive individuals reported more symptoms and greater severity of symptoms, as well as higher skin conductance (which is a good measure of physiological response to environmental stressors), regardless of whether the signal was on or off. Hence, the range of symptoms and physiological response does not appear to be related to the presence of either GSM or 3G signals.
Principal investigator Professor Elaine Fox explained: ‘It is clear that sensitive individuals are suffering real symptoms and often have a poor quality of life. It is now important to determine what other factors could be causing these symptoms, so appropriate research studies and treatment strategies can be developed.’
The results are consistent with the only other published large-scale study of the effects of short-term exposure to mobile phone masts with sensitive individuals (published in Environmental Health Perspectives by Regel et al, 2006).
Dr James Rubin, of the Mobile Phones Research Unit at Kings College London, who has reviewed 31 blind and double-blind studies carried out under controlled laboratory conditions, said: ‘The Essex study is one of the largest and most detailed of these experiments and its findings, that mobile phone signals are not responsible for the symptoms that some people describe, are in line with those from most other previous experiments. This should be reassuring news for anyone who is concerned about the possible short-term health effects of masts.’
The multi-disciplinary scientific research team at Essex included cognitive psychologists, electronic and biomedical engineers and a medical doctor. Testing took place in the Electromagnetics and Health Laboratory at the University’s Colchester campus. The exposure system was provided by Red-M, and the accuracy of both the exposure system and the testing environment was confirmed by the National Physical Laboratory.
The study was funded by the Mobile Telecommunications and Health Research (MTHR) programme (www.mthr.org.uk). The results are published online today by the journal Environmental Health Perspectives (www.ehponline.org).
The Essex research team is now undertaking an MTHR-funded study into the short-term health effects of exposure to TETRA mobile radio masts, which are used for the emergency services’ communications systems.
Sarah Mills | alfa
WAKE-UP provides new treatment option for stroke patients | International study led by UKE
17.05.2018 | Universitätsklinikum Hamburg-Eppendorf
First form of therapy for childhood dementia CLN2 developed
25.04.2018 | Universitätsklinikum Hamburg-Eppendorf
The more electronics steer, accelerate and brake cars, the more important it is to protect them against cyber-attacks. That is why 15 partners from industry and academia will work together over the next three years on new approaches to IT security in self-driving cars. The joint project goes by the name Security For Connected, Autonomous Cars (SecForCARs) and has funding of €7.2 million from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research. Infineon is leading the project.
Vehicles already offer diverse communication interfaces and more and more automated functions, such as distance and lane-keeping assist systems. At the same...
A research team led by physicists at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has developed molecular nanoswitches that can be toggled between two structurally different states using an applied voltage. They can serve as the basis for a pioneering class of devices that could replace silicon-based components with organic molecules.
The development of new electronic technologies drives the incessant reduction of functional component sizes. In the context of an international collaborative...
At the LASYS 2018, from June 5th to 7th, the Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V. (LZH) will be showcasing processes for the laser material processing of tomorrow in hall 4 at stand 4E75. With blown bomb shells the LZH will present first results of a research project on civil security.
At this year's LASYS, the LZH will exhibit light-based processes such as cutting, welding, ablation and structuring as well as additive manufacturing for...
There are videos on the internet that can make one marvel at technology. For example, a smartphone is casually bent around the arm or a thin-film display is rolled in all directions and with almost every diameter. From the user's point of view, this looks fantastic. From a professional point of view, however, the question arises: Is that already possible?
At Display Week 2018, scientists from the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Polymer Research IAP will be demonstrating today’s technological possibilities and...
So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics
Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...
25.05.2018 | Event News
02.05.2018 | Event News
13.04.2018 | Event News
25.05.2018 | Event News
25.05.2018 | Machine Engineering
25.05.2018 | Life Sciences