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Source document:
SCENIHR (2007)

Summary & Details:
GreenFacts (2008)

Electromagnetic Fields

5. Conclusions on mobile phones and radio frequency fields

The source document for this Digest states:

3.3.8. Conclusions about RF fields

Since the adoption of the 2001 opinion, extensive research has been conducted regarding possible health effects of exposure to low intensity RF fields. This research has investigated a variety of possible effects and has included epidemiologic, in vivo, and in vitro research. The overall epidemiologic evidence suggests that mobile phone use of less than 10 years does not pose any increased risk of brain tumour or acoustic neuroma. For longer use, data are sparse, since only some recent studies have reasonably large numbers of long-term users. Any conclusion therefore is uncertain and tentative. From the available data, however, it does appear that there is no increased risk for brain tumours in long-term users, with the exception of acoustic neuroma for which there is limited evidence of a weak association. Results of the so-called Interphone study will provide more insight, but it cannot be ruled out that some questions will remain open.

Scientific studies have failed to provide support for a relation between RF exposure, lower than the reference values in the present ICNIRP guidelines and self-reported symptoms (sometimes referred to as electromagnetic hypersensitivity). Available studies suggest that self-reported symptoms are not correlated to an acute exposure to RF fields, but the limited number of studies does not allow any firm conclusion.

Currently available studies on neurological effects and reproductive effects have not indicated any health risks at exposure levels below guidelines.

Animal cancer studies have not provided evidence that RF radiation could induce cancer, enhance the effects of known carcinogens, or accelerate the development of transplanted tumours. The open questions include adequacy of the experimental models used and scarcity of data at high exposure levels. These questions are addressed by the still ongoing and planned carcinogenicity studies.

There is no reliable indication from in vitro research that RF fields affect cells at nonthermal exposure. However, recent results suggesting genotoxic effects need to be better understood.

Thus, no health effect has been consistently demonstrated at exposure levels below existing exposure guidelines for the general public. However, data on long term exposure and intracranial tumours are still sparse and in particular for acoustic neuroma some data indicate that an association with RF fields from mobile telephony is possible. For diseases other than cancer, very little epidemiologic data are available. A particular consideration is mobile phone use by children. While no specific evidence exists, there is a general concern that children or adolescents may be more sensitive to RF field exposure than adults. Children, as adults, will probably have a higher cumulative exposure compared to today’s adults. To date no epidemiologic studies on children are available.

The technical development is very fast and sources of RF exposure become increasingly common. Yet, there is a profound lack of mechanistic understanding of effects below the guidelines and of information on individual RF exposure and the relative contribution of different sources to the overall exposure.

Source & ©: ,  Possible Effects of Electromagnetic Fields (EMF) on Human Health (2007)
Section 3.3 Radio Frequency Fields, 3.3.8 Conclusions about RF fields, p. 28

The Three-Level Structure used to communicate this SCENIHR Opinion is copyrighted by GreenFacts asbl/vzw.