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.
Copyright © 2018 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.. All rights reserved.