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HERMES: Health Effects Related to Mobile Phone Use in Adolescents

English title HERMES: Health Effects Related to Mobile Phone Use in Adolescents
Applicant Röösli Martin
Number 138190
Funding scheme Project funding (Div. I-III)
Research institution Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute Medical Services and Diagnostic Universität Basel
Institution of higher education University of Basel - BS
Main discipline Methods of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine
Start/End 01.01.2012 - 31.12.2014
Approved amount 438'000.00
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All Disciplines (2)

Discipline
Methods of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine
Electrical Engineering

Keywords (9)

mobile phone; behavioural problems; cognitive functions; adolescents; radiofrequency electromagnetic fields; cohort study ; epidemiology; environment; health

Lay Summary (English)

Lead
Lay summary

Background: Mobile phones are the most important source for radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (RF-EMF) exposure to the head. To date, epidemiological research on the health effects of mobile phone use in children and adolescents is scarce and the World Health Organization (WHO) considers additional research in this age group as the highest priority in this area of research.

Aims: The aim of this cohort study is to prospectively investigate whether exposure to RF-EMF emitted by mobile phones and other wireless communication devices affects cognitive functions, and whether it causes behavioural problems or non-specific health disturbances in adolescents.

Methods: A cohort study will be conducted in about 800 adolescents attending schools in Central Switzerland. The baseline investigation will be conducted with 8th grade students and the follow-up will take place one year later. The cognitive performance will be measured using a computerized cognitive testing system in the computer lab of the schools. Behavioural problems and the occurrence of non-specific symptoms of ill health will be assessed by means of standardized questionnaires targeted to both, the adolescents and their parents.

Detailed mobile phone traffic data including the network being used (GSM or UMTS) will be collected from the mobile phone operators for the period of six month previous to the baseline investigation until the end of the follow-up period. Additionally, residential RF-EMF exposure from mobile phone base stations and broadcast transmitters will be assessed using a validated geospatial propagation model. In a subset of the study participants, personal RF-EMF measurements will be conducted. The statistical analysis of the data will include a variety of factors associated with behaviour, symptoms or cognitive functions.

Significance: Nowadays, the use of mobile phones is an intrinsic part of the daily life of adolescent and potential health effects are of high relevance for public health. The proposed cohort study will overcome major methodological problems of most previous epidemiological studies that used self-reported exposure data. A considerable strength is the longitudinal design with a baseline examination and a follow-up after one year. In particular, the study is appropriate to isolate potential RF-EMF effects from other influences that may be associated with the regular use of mobile phones. Thus, it is expected that this cohort study will considerably increase our insight about the impact of mobile phone exposure on the health of adolescents.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 21.02.2013

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Publications

Publication
Symptoms and the use of wireless communication devices: A prospective cohort study in Swiss adolescents.
Schoeni Anna, Roser Katharina, Röösli Martin (2017), Symptoms and the use of wireless communication devices: A prospective cohort study in Swiss adolescents., in Environmental research, 154, 275-283.
Mobile phone use, behavioural problems and concentration capacity in adolescents: A prospective study.
Roser Katharina, Schoeni Anna, Röösli Martin (2016), Mobile phone use, behavioural problems and concentration capacity in adolescents: A prospective study., in International journal of hygiene and environmental health, 219, 759-769.
Personal radiofrequency electromagnetic field exposure measurements in Swiss adolescents.
Roser Katharina, Schoeni Anna, Struchen Benjamin, Zahner Marco, Eeftens Marloes, Fröhlich Jürg, Röösli Martin (2016), Personal radiofrequency electromagnetic field exposure measurements in Swiss adolescents., in Environment international, 0.
Symptoms in Swiss adolescents in relation to exposure from fixed site transmitters: a prospective cohort study.
Schoeni Anna, Roser Katharina, Bürgi Alfred, Röösli Martin (2016), Symptoms in Swiss adolescents in relation to exposure from fixed site transmitters: a prospective cohort study., in Environmental health : a global access science source, 15(1), 77-77.
Development of an RF-EMF Exposure Surrogate for Epidemiologic Research
Roser Katharina, Schoeni Anna, Buergi Alfred, Röösli Martin (2015), Development of an RF-EMF Exposure Surrogate for Epidemiologic Research, in INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF ENVIRONMENTAL RESEARCH AND PUBLIC HEALTH, 12(5), 5634-5656.
Memory performance, wireless communication and exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields: A prospective cohort study in adolescents
Schoeni Anna, Roser Katharina, Röösli Martin (2015), Memory performance, wireless communication and exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields: A prospective cohort study in adolescents, in Environment International, 85, 343-351.
Problematic mobile phone use in adolescents: derivation of a short scale MPPUS-10
Foerster M., Roser K., Schoeni A., Röösli M (2015), Problematic mobile phone use in adolescents: derivation of a short scale MPPUS-10, in International Journal of Public Health, 60(2), 277-286.
Symptoms and Cognitive Functions in Adolescents in Relation to Mobile Phone Use during Night
Schoeni Anna, Roser Katharina, Röösli Martin (2015), Symptoms and Cognitive Functions in Adolescents in Relation to Mobile Phone Use during Night, in PLOS ONE, 10(7), e0133528.
Radio-frequency electromagnetic field (RF-EMF) exposure levels in different European outdoor urban environments in comparison with regulatory limits
Urbinello Damiano, Joseph Wout, Huss Anke, Verloock Leen, Beekhuizen Johan, Vermeulen Roel, Martens Luc, Röösli Martin (2014), Radio-frequency electromagnetic field (RF-EMF) exposure levels in different European outdoor urban environments in comparison with regulatory limits, in ENVIRONMENT INTERNATIONAL, 68, 49-54.
Temporal trends of radio-frequency electromagnetic field (RF-EMF) exposure in everyday environments across European cities
Urbinello Damiano, Joseph Wout, Verloock Leen, Martens Luc, Röösli Martin (2014), Temporal trends of radio-frequency electromagnetic field (RF-EMF) exposure in everyday environments across European cities, in ENVIRONMENTAL RESEARCH, 134, 134-142.
Problematic mobile phone use of Swiss adolescents: is it linked with mental health or behaviour?
Roser Katharina, Schoeni Anna, Foerster Milena, Röösli Martin, Problematic mobile phone use of Swiss adolescents: is it linked with mental health or behaviour?, in International Journal of Public Health.

Collaboration

Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
Karolinska Institute, Stockholm Sweden (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Laboratory for Electromagentic Fields and Microwave Electronics, ETH Zürich Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Research Infrastructure
- Industry/business/other use-inspired collaboration
Center for test development and and diagnostics/Institute of Psychology, Frigourg Switzerland (Europe)
- Industry/business/other use-inspired collaboration
IRAS Netherlands (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Exchange of personnel
Clinical Psychology for Children/Adolescents and Couples/Families at the University of Zurich Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
CREAL, Barcelona Spain (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
ARIAS umwelt.forschung.beratung, Bern Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
- Exchange of personnel

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
BioEM Conference Talk given at a conference Mobile phone use, radiofrequency electromagnetic fields exposure, and children’s cognitive, behavioural, and non-specific symptoms - the example of the Swiss HERMES study within the GERoNiMO project. 05.06.2016 Ghent, Belgium Röösli Martin;
Kolloquium, Institut für medizinische Biometrie, Epidemiologie und Informatik. Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz Talk given at a conference EMF exposure in our everyday environment and implications for research and risk assessment 05.02.2015 Mainz, Germany Röösli Martin;
Swiss TPH Autumn Symposium 2014: Personalized Medicine: The Public Health Perspective 11‐12 December, Basel Switzerland Talk given at a conference Environmental exposure monitoring 11.12.2014 Basel, Switzerland Röösli Martin;
ISEE Europe 2014, Barcelona, Spain Talk given at a conference Mobile phone use during night and its impact on non-specific symptoms of ill health and cognitive functions in adolescents 20.10.2014 Barcelona, Spain Schöni Anna;
ISEE Europe 2014, Barcelona, Spain Talk given at a conference Development of an RF-EMF exposure surrogate for epidemiologic research from modelling, personal measurements and operator data 20.10.2014 Barcelona, Spain Roser Katharina;
Research seminar, CREAL, Barcelona Talk given at a conference Exposure assessment: the key to successful environmental epidemiology 19.09.2014 Barcelona, Spain Röösli Martin;
ISEE 2014, Seattle, USA Poster Development of an RF-EMF exposure surrogate for epidemiologic research from modelling, personal measurements and operator data 24.08.2014 Seattle, United States of America Roser Katharina;
Swiss Public Health Conference 2014, Olten, Switzerland Talk given at a conference Mobile phone use during night and its impact on health and cognitive functions in adolescents 21.08.2014 Olten, Switzerland Schöni Anna;
BioEM 2014, Cape Town, South Africa Talk given at a conference Symposium: The principles of epidemiological exposure assessment 08.06.2014 Cape Town, South Africa Röösli Martin;
BioEM 2014, Cape Town, South Africa Talk given at a conference Mobile phone use during night and its impact on health and cognitive functions in adolescents 08.06.2014 Cape Town, South Africa Schöni Anna;
BioEM 2014, Cape Town, South Africa Talk given at a conference Plenary: A tutorial on epidemiology 08.06.2014 Cape Town, South Africa Röösli Martin;
Environment and Health, Conference of ISEE, ISES and ISIAQ 2013, Basel, Switzerland Poster How do Swiss adolescents use their mobile phones? Development of an exposure metric 20.08.2013 Basel, Switzerland Schöni Anna;
Environment and Health, Conference of ISEE, ISES and ISIAQ 2013, Basel, Switzerland Talk given at a conference Propagation modelling, mobile phone traffic data, questionnaires, personal measurements and mobile phone apps: an integrated approach for exposure assessment 20.08.2013 Basel, Switzerland Roser Katharina;
Swiss Public Health Conference 2013, Zürich, Switzerland Talk given at a conference Integrated electromagnetic field exposure assessment: modelling, personal measurements, questionnaires, mobile phone traffic data and apps 15.08.2013 Zürich, Switzerland Schöni Anna; Roser Katharina;
BioEM 2013, Thessaloniki, Greece Poster RF-EMF exposure in schools in Central Switzerland 10.06.2013 Thessaloniki, Greece Roser Katharina;
BioEM 2013, Thessaloniki, Greece Talk given at a conference How do Swiss adolescents use their mobile phones? 10.06.2013 Thessaloniki, Greece Schöni Anna;
EMF Health Risk Research, Monte Verità, Switzerland Poster HERMES Health Effects Related to Mobile phonE use in adolescentS: a prospective cohort study 21.10.2012 Monte Verita, Switzerland Schöni Anna; Roser Katharina;
7th International NIR Workshop of the ICNIRP, Edinburgh, Scotland Talk given at a conference Possible non-scientific bias in the literature database 09.05.2012 Edinburgh, Great Britain and Northern Ireland Röösli Martin;
Symposium e-Health, Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, Basel Talk given at a conference Use of mobile phones for exposure assessment 08.05.2012 Basel, Switzerland Röösli Martin;


Knowledge transfer events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Date Place Persons involved
NIS-Monitoring mit tragbaren Geräten: erste Erfahrungen aus der Praxis, Workshop NISV Workshop 04.11.2014 Rotkreuz, Switzerland Röösli Martin;
EMF Epi-Studien – Forschungsstand: Science Brunch 19, Epidemiologie – Ansätze, Befunde, Bewertungen Talk 11.12.2013 Zürich, Switzerland Röösli Martin;
Vested interests and science funding. Workshop evaluating evidence in research: ethics & credibility Workshop 18.04.2013 Berlin, Germany Röösli Martin;
Challenges of population survey. RF Exposure Assessment Workshop, EPRI Workshop 18.10.2012 Washington DC, United States of America Röösli Martin;
Traue keiner Statistik. Erkenntnisse aus der Epidemiologie. Jubiläumsveranstaltung der Forschungsstiftung Mobilfunk Talk 03.10.2012 Zürich, Switzerland Röösli Martin;
Der Beitrag der Mobiltelefone zur Gesamtexposition. Science Brunch zu ‚Exposition durch Mobiltelefone – neueste Erkenntnisse’ Talk 16.05.2012 Zürich, Switzerland Röösli Martin;


Communication with the public

Communication Title Media Place Year
Media relations: radio, television Handystrahlung und Gesundheit: HERMES Studie Tele Z Talk Konkret German-speaking Switzerland 2016
Media relations: print media, online media Jugendliche, die ihr Handy oft nachts nutzen, sind häufiger erschöpft Tages Anzeiger German-speaking Switzerland 2016
Media relations: radio, television Schadet Handy-Strahlung dem Gedächtnis? Wissenschaftsmagazin Radio SRF 2 Kultur German-speaking Switzerland 2016
Media relations: radio, television Elektrosensibilität – ein umstrittenes Phänomen Kontext Radio SRF 2 German-speaking Switzerland 2015
Talks/events/exhibitions EMF exposure in our everyday environment: implications for research and risk assessment International 2014
Media relations: print media, online media Machen uns Handys verhaltensgestört? 20Minuten 11.03.2014 German-speaking Switzerland 2014
Media relations: print media, online media Schulen im Strahlenmeer? Bildung Schweiz 2014;11a; 23-25 German-speaking Switzerland 2014
Talks/events/exhibitions Tag der Offenen Tür Swiss TPH 2014 German-speaking Switzerland 2014
Media relations: print media, online media Verhaltensprobleme durch Handynutzung? BIldung Schweiz 2014; 3; 7-8 German-speaking Switzerland 2014
Talks/events/exhibitions Umwelttage 2013 German-speaking Switzerland 2013
Talks/events/exhibitions EMF and electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS) and symptoms: Is there a link? International 2012

Awards

Title Year
SSPH+ PhD abstract award at the Swiss Public Health Conference 2015. Third best abstract for Anna Schöni: Memory performance in adolescents: a novel approach to differentiate between radiation and non-radiation effects of mobile phones. 2015
Young Scientist Award for Kathrin Roser for at the AT-RASC 2015 URSI Conference 2015 in Gran Canaria, Canary Islands 2015
SSPH+ PhD abstract award at the Swiss Public Health Conference 2014 Third best abstract for Anna Schoeni: Mobile phone use during night and its impact on health and cognitive functions in adolescents. 2014

Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
122873 CEFALO: An international case-control study on brain tumours in children and adolescents 01.02.2009 ProDoc
113595 Prospektive Kohortenstudie zum Einfluss der nicht ionisierenden Strahlung auf die gesundheitsbezogene Lebensqualität 01.01.2007 NRP 57 Non-Ionising Radiation - Health and Environment
173330 Novel methods for investigating acute and long term effects of transportation noise on health 01.08.2017 Project funding (special)

Abstract

Background: Mobile phones are the most important source for radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (RF-EMF) exposure to the head. To date, epidemiological research on the health effects of mobile phone use in children and adolescents is scarce and the World Health Organization (WHO) considers additional research in this age group the highest priority in this field of research.A particular challenge in this research area is the differentiation between radiation effects and other effects that may be the consequence of regularly using mobile phone such as social interactions or psychomotor training when sending text messages. Currently, there is a unique situation to address this challenge because the amount of RF-EMF emitted when making a call on the UMTS (3rd generation network) is on average 100 to 500 times lower compared to calls carried out on the GSM (2nd generation) network. This results in a low correlation between the actual RF-EMF exposure of the head and the duration of mobile phone use in areas with incomplete UMTS coverage. Therefore, it is feasible to evaluate whether effects are associated with the cumulative RF-EMF exposure or solely with the duration of use. Only the first case would be indicative for a radiation effect. Aims: The aim of this cohort study is to prospectively investigate in adolescents whether exposure to RF-EMF emitted by mobile phones and other wireless communication devices causes behavioural problems, non-specific health disturbances or affects cognitive functions. Methods: A cohort study will be conducted in about 800 adolescents attending schools in the Basel area. The baseline investigation will be conducted with 8th grade students and the follow-up will take place one year later. The cognitive performance will be measured using a standardized computerized cognitive testing system in the computer lab of the schools at baseline and follow-up. Behavioural problems and the occurrence of non-specific symptoms of ill health will be assessed by means of standardized questionnaires targeted to both, the adolescents and their parents. Detailed mobile phone traffic data including the network being used (GSM or UMTS) will be collected from the mobile phone operators for the period of six month previous to the baseline investigation until the end of the follow-up period. Additionally, residential RF-EMF exposure from mobile phone base stations and broadcast transmitters will be assessed using a validated geospatial propagation model and W-LAN measurements in the classrooms will be considered. In a subset of the study participants, personal RF-EMF measurements will be conducted. The data will be analysed with mixed linear models to allow for the clustered data sampling within school classes.Significance: Nowadays, the use of mobile phones is an intrinsic part of the daily life of adolescents. Potential health effects are therefore of high public interest and of relevance for public health since the lifetime exposure of adolescents will be longer than that of present-day adults. The proposed cohort study will overcome major methodological limitations of most previous epidemiological studies that used self-reported exposure data or applied a cross-sectional study design. In particular, the study is suitable to isolate potential radiation effects from other influences that may be associated with the regular use of mobile phones. Thus, it is expected that this cohort study will considerably increase our insight about the impact of mobile phone radiation on adolescents.
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