Objectives: The aim of our study was to assess the health conditions and subjective symptoms of the inhabitants living in the base stations vicinity and to analyse the relationship between the complaints and level of exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMF).
Materials and methods: Our study was performed in housing estates located in five regions of Łódź. The electric field measurements were performed in the buildings located closest to the azimuth of the antennas. Respondents were selected by trained interviewers using an uniform procedure. The number of the households to be examined was set at a minimum of 420. The questionnaire contained: demographic data, occupational and environmental exposure to EMF, health condition, subjective complaints. Results were adjusted for confounders (age, gender, EMF at the workplace and EMF emitted by household equipment) using multiple regression model.
Results: 181 men and 319 women from 500 households were examined. Electric field above 0.8 V/m was recorded in 12% of flats. There was no significant correlation between electric field strength and the distance of examined flats from the base stations. To make possible comparison with relevant literature, we analysed also the frequency of the reported symptoms vs. the distance. Headache was declared by 57% people, most frequently (36.4%) living 100-150 m away from the base station compared to people living at longer distances (p = 0.013). 24.4% subjects, mostly living at a distance above 150 m, declared impaired memory. Difference was statistically significant in comparison with people living at other distances (p = 0.004).
Conclusions: The explanation why we did not find any correlation between the electric field strength and frequency of subjective symptoms but found a correlation between subjective symptoms and distance from base station needs further studies. Maybe new metrics of exposure assessment should be adopted for this purpose.