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Symptoms in Swiss adolescents in relation to exposure from fixed site transmitters: a prospective cohort study.

Type of publication Peer-reviewed
Publikationsform Original article (peer-reviewed)
Publication date 2016
Author Schoeni Anna, Roser Katharina, Bürgi Alfred, Röösli Martin,
Project HERMES: Health Effects Related to Mobile Phone Use in Adolescents
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Original article (peer-reviewed)

Journal Environmental health : a global access science source
Volume (Issue) 15(1)
Page(s) 77 - 77
Title of proceedings Environmental health : a global access science source
DOI 10.1186/s12940-016-0158-4

Open Access

Type of Open Access Publisher (Gold Open Access)


There is public concern regarding potential health effects of radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (RF-EMF) emitted by fixed site transmitters. We therefore investigated whether self-reported general well-being in adolescents is affected by RF-EMF exposure from mobile phone base stations (downlink) and broadcast transmitters (TV and radio). In a prospective cohort study, 439 study participants aged 12-17 years, completed questionnaires about their self-reported well-being and possible confounding factors at baseline and one year later. Exposure from fixed site transmitters at home and school was calculated by using a geospatial propagation model. Data were analysed using a mixed-logistic cross-sectional model of a combined dataset consisting of baseline and follow-up data and a longitudinal approach where we investigated whether exposure at baseline (cohort analysis) or changes in exposure between baseline and follow-up (change analysis) were related to a new onset of a symptom between baseline and follow-up. All analyses were adjusted for relevant confounders. Mean exposure (median; 75(th)) for broadcast transmitters, downlink and total exposure at baseline were 1.9 μW/m(2) (1.0 μW/m(2); 2.8 μW/m(2)), 14.4 μW/m(2) (3.8 μW/m(2); 11.0 μW/m(2)) and 16.3 μW/m(2) (5.8 μW/m(2); 13.4 μW/m(2)), respectively. In cross-sectional analyses no associations were observed between any symptom and RF-EMF exposure from fixed site transmitters. In the cohort and change analyses only a few significant associations were observed including an increased OR for tiredness (2.94, 95%CI: 1.43 to 6.05) for participants in the top 25(th) percentile of total RF-EMF exposure from fixed site transmitters at baseline, in comparison to participants exposed below the median and a decreased OR for exhaustibility (0.50, 95%CI: 0.27 to 0.93) for participants with an exposure increase between baseline and follow-up. In this cohort study, using a geospatial propagation model, RF-EMF exposure from fixed site transmitters was not consistently associated with self-reported symptoms in Swiss adolescents. The few observed associations have to be interpreted with caution and might represent chance findings.