Individual variation in temporal relationships between exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields and non-specific physical symptoms: A new approach in studying ‘electrosensitivity’.

2018 Sep 15;121(Pt 1):297-307. doi: 10.1016/j.envint.2018.08.064. [Epub ahead of print]

Abstract
Background

Everyday exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (RF-EMF) emitted from wireless devices such as mobile phones and base stations, radio and television transmitters is ubiquitous. Some people attribute non-specific physical symptoms (NSPS) such as headache and fatigue to exposure to RF-EMF. Most previous laboratory studies or studies that analyzed populations at a group level did not find evidence of an association between RF-EMF exposure and NSPS.

Objectives

We explored the association between exposure to RF-EMF in daily life and the occurrence of NSPS in individual self-declared electrohypersensitive persons using body worn exposimeters and electronic diaries.

Methods

We selected seven individuals who attributed their NSPS to RF-EMF exposure. The level of and variability in personal RF-EMF exposure and NSPS were determined during a three-week period. Data were analyzed using time series analysis in which exposure as measured and recorded in the diary was correlated with NSPS.

Results

We found statistically significant correlations between perceived and actual exposure to wireless internet (WiFi – rate of change and number of peaks above threshold) and base stations for mobile telecommunications (GSM + UMTS downlink, rate of change) and NSPS scores in four of the seven participants. In two persons a higher EMF exposure was associated with higher symptom scores, and in two other persons it was associated with lower scores. Remarkably, we found no significant correlations between NSPS and time-weighted average power density, the most commonly used exposure metric.

Conclusions

RF-EMF exposure was associated either positively or negatively with NSPS in some but not all of the selected self-declared electrohypersensitive persons.

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