We assessed associations between modeled and perceived exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (RF-EMF) from mobile-phone base stations and the development of nonspecific symptoms and sleep disturbances over time. A population-based Dutch cohort study, the Occupational and Environmental Health Cohort Study (AMIGO) (n = 14,829; ages 31-65 years), was established in 2011/2012 (T0), with follow-up of a subgroup (n = 3,992 invited) in 2013 (T1; n = 2,228) and 2014 (T2; n = 1,740). We modeled far-field RF-EMF exposure from mobile-phone base stations at the home addresses of the participants using a 3-dimensional geospatial model (NISMap). Perceived exposure (0 = not at all; 6 = very much), nonspecific symptoms, and sleep disturbances were assessed by questionnaire. We performed cross-sectional and longitudinal analyses, including fixed-effects regression. We found small correlations between modeled and perceived exposure in AMIGO participants at baseline (n = 14,309; rSpearman = 0.10). For 222 follow-up participants, modeled exposure increased substantially (>0.030 mW/m2) between T0 and T1. This increase in modeled exposure was associated with an increase in perceived exposure during the same time period. In contrast to modeled RF-EMF exposure from mobile-phone base stations, perceived exposure was associated with higher symptom reporting scores in both cross-sectional and longitudinal analyses, as well as with sleep disturbances in cross-sectional analyses.
Keywords: cell phones; geospatial model; mobile-phone base stations; nonspecific symptoms; perceived exposure; prospective cohort studies; radiofrequency electromagnetic fields; sleep disturbances.
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