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Environ Int. 2018 Dec;121(Pt 1):297-307. doi: 10.1016/j.envint.2018.08.064. Epub 2018 Sep 15.

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

Author information

1
National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM), PO Box 1, 3720 BA Bilthoven, the Netherlands. Electronic address: rik.bogers@rivm.nl.
2
University of Groningen, University Medical Center Groningen, Interdisciplinary Center Psychopathology and Emotion regulation (ICPE), PO Box 30.001, Hospital mail address CC72, 9700 RB Groningen, the Netherlands. Electronic address: a.van.gils@umcg.nl.
3
National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM), PO Box 1, 3720 BA Bilthoven, the Netherlands. Electronic address: sander.clahsen@rivm.nl.
4
National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM), PO Box 1, 3720 BA Bilthoven, the Netherlands. Electronic address: wendy.vercruijsse@pbl.nl.
5
National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM), PO Box 1, 3720 BA Bilthoven, the Netherlands. Electronic address: irene.van.kamp@rivm.nl.
6
National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM), PO Box 1, 3720 BA Bilthoven, the Netherlands. Electronic address: c.baliatsas@nivel.nl.
7
University of Groningen, University Medical Center Groningen, Interdisciplinary Center Psychopathology and Emotion regulation (ICPE), PO Box 30.001, Hospital mail address CC72, 9700 RB Groningen, the Netherlands. Electronic address: j.g.m.rosmalen@umcg.nl.
8
National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM), PO Box 1, 3720 BA Bilthoven, the Netherlands; The Hague University of Applied Sciences, Faculty of Technology, Innovation, and Society, Smart Sensor Systems group, Rotterdamseweg 137, 2628 AL Delft, the Netherlands. Electronic address: john.bolte@rivm.nl.

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.

KEYWORDS:

EMF; Electromagnetic fields; Electromagnetic sensitivity; Idiopathic environmental intolerance (IEI-EMF); Non-specific physical symptoms (NSPS); Personal exposure measurements

PMID:
30227317
DOI:
10.1016/j.envint.2018.08.064
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