Aggregated data from two double-blind base station provocation studies comparing individuals with idiopathic environmental intolerance with attribution to electromagnetic fields and controls

Bioelectromagnetics. 2015 Feb;36(2):96-107. doi: 10.1002/bem.21892. Epub 2015 Jan 30.


Data from two previous studies were aggregated to provide a statistically powerful test of whether exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMFs) produced by telecommunication base stations negatively affects well-being in individuals who report idiopathic environmental illness with attribution to electromagnetic fields (IEI-EMF) and control participants. A total of 102 IEI-EMF and 237 controls participated in open provocation trials and 88 IEI-EMF and 231 controls went on to complete double-blind trials in which they were exposed to EMFs from a base station emitting either a Global System for Mobile Communication and Universal Mobile Telecommunications System or a Terrestrial Trunked Radio Telecommunications System signal. Both experiments included a comparison sham condition. Visual analog and symptom scales measured subjective well-being. Results showed that IEI-EMF participants reported lower levels of well-being during real compared to sham exposure during open provocation, but not during double-blind trials. Additionally, participants reported lower levels of well-being during high compared to low load trials and this did not interact with radiofrequency-EMF exposure. These findings are consistent with a growing body of literature indicating there is no causal relationship between short-term exposure to EMFs and subjective well-being in members of the public whether or not they report perceived sensitivity to EMFs.

Keywords: electromagnetic hypersensitivity; human health; mobile communications; radiofrequency fields.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cell Phone
  • Controlled Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Electromagnetic Fields / adverse effects*
  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Environmental Illness / etiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Radio Waves