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Bioelectromagnetics. 2012 Jan;33(1):40-54. doi: 10.1002/bem.20682. Epub 2011 Jun 21.

Assessment of intermittent UMTS electromagnetic field effects on blood circulation in the human auditory region using a near-infrared system.

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Biomedical Optics Research Laboratory, Division of Neonatology, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University Hospital Zurich, Switzerland.


The aim of the present study was to assess the potential effects of intermittent Universal Mobile Telecommunications System electromagnetic fields (UMTS-EMF) on blood circulation in the human head (auditory region) using near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) on two different timescales: short-term (effects occurring within 80 s) and medium-term (effects occurring within 80 s to 30 min). For the first time, we measured potential immediate effects of UMTS-EMF in real-time without any interference during exposure. Three different exposures (sham, 0.18 W/kg, and 1.8 W/kg) were applied in a controlled, randomized, crossover, and double-blind paradigm on 16 healthy volunteers. In addition to oxy-, deoxy-, and total haemoglobin concentrations ([O(2) Hb], [HHb], and [tHb], respectively), the heart rate (HR), subjective well-being, tiredness, and counting speed were recorded. During exposure to 0.18 W/kg, we found a significant short-term increase in Δ[O(2) Hb] and Δ[tHb], which is small (≈17%) compared to a functional brain activation. A significant decrease in the medium-term response of Δ[HHb] at 0.18 and 1.8 W/kg exposures was detected, which is in the range of physiological fluctuations. The medium-term ΔHR was significantly higher (+1.84 bpm) at 1.8 W/kg than for sham exposure. The other parameters showed no significant effects. Our results suggest that intermittent exposure to UMTS-EMF has small short- and medium-term effects on cerebral blood circulation and HR.

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