Electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS) and subjective health complaints associated with electromagnetic fields of mobile phone communication--a literature review published between 2000 and 2004

Sci Total Environ. 2005 Oct 15;349(1-3):45-55. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2005.05.009. Epub 2005 Jun 21.


Literature published between 2000 to 2004 concerning electromagnetic fields (EMF) of mobile communication and electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS) or unspecific symptoms of ill health, respectively, is reviewed. Basically, literature from established databases was systematically searched for. For each study, the design and quality were evaluated by means of a criteria list in order to judge evidence for causality of exposures on effects. Finally, 13 studies of sufficient quality were considered for this review. In only one provocation study, individuals with self-reported electromagnetic hypersensitivity were exposed to EMF. Their perception of field status was no better than would have been expected by chance. Results of five randomised cross-over studies on impaired well-being due to mobile phone exposure were contradictory. Even though these studies would allow more reliable exposure assessment, they are limited due to short exposure period and the small study size. No firm conclusion could be drawn from a few observational epidemiological studies finding a positive association between exposure and unspecific symptoms of ill health due to methodological limitations. Causality of exposure and effect was not derivable from these cross-sectional studies as field status and health complaints were assessed at the same time. In addition, exposure assessment has not been validated. In conclusion, based on the limited studies available, there is no valid evidence for an association between impaired well-being and exposure to mobile phone radiation presently. However, the limited quantity and quality of research in this area do not allow to exclude long-term health effects definitely.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anxiety
  • Cell Phone*
  • Dizziness
  • Electromagnetic Fields / adverse effects*
  • Environmental Exposure
  • Female
  • Headache
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity / epidemiology
  • Hypersensitivity / etiology*
  • Male
  • Memory Disorders
  • Skin / pathology
  • Skin / radiation effects
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / etiology