February 2004

British review on mobile phones

In its 2000 report, the Independent Expert Group on Mobile Phones recommended that "the issue of possible health effects from mobile phone technology be the subject of a further review in three years time". The UK government asked the Board oh the National Radiological Protection Board (NRPB) to undertake this review and the Board asked its independent Advisory Group on Non-ionising Radiation (AGNIR) to carry it out. The review has now been published and can be read at http://www.nrpb.org/publications/documents_of_nrpb/abstracts/absd14-2.htm

In its Press Release, the NRPB states:

"An independent Advisory Group has reviewed the evidence for health effects from radiofrequency transmissions, especially that published since the Stewart Report in 2000. The biological and epidemiological evidence does not suggest cancer causation, in particular from mobile phone use, nor any other adverse health effect from radiofrequency exposures at levels below guidelines. However, there are limitations to the research carried out so far, and mobile phones have only been in widespread use for a relatively short time. The Advisory Group concludes that there is still a possibility that there could be health effects from exposure to radiofrequency transmissions below guideline levels, and continued research is needed".

And a Swedish review on electromagnetic fields

The Swedish Radiation Protection Authority, SSI, has appointed an international independent expert group for electromagnetic fields and health. The task is to follow and evaluate scientific developments and to give advice to SSI. The group has issued its first annual report. Its conclusions were:

"The focus of this report is on epidemiological and experimental cancer research, blood-brain barrier and heat shock proteins. In none of these areas have there been breakthrough results that have warranted firm conclusions in one way or the other. It is worth noting, however, that intense research is currently ongoing in several countries and new data will gradually become available. Given the complexity of the research area it is essential that both positive and negative results be replicated before accepted. Given the increase of new technologies, it is essential to follow various possible health effects from the very beginning, particularly since such effects may be detected only after a long duration, due to the prolonged latency period of many chronic diseases. Thus, more research is needed to address long-term exposure, as well as diseases other than those included in the ongoing case-control studies".

The review can be found at www.ssi.se/english/english_news.html

No effect on blood pressure from RFR exposure

Braune and colleagues created concern in 1998 when they reported a slight increase in the blood pressure of subjects after exposure to radiofrequency radiation (RFR). The same authors later repeated their study, with one change - they randomized the order of exposure to RFR and to a sham exposure (in the first study all subjects had sham exposure first). In their second study (Braune et al., 2002) there was no significant difference between RFR and sham exposure. It became clear that the minor blood pressure change occurred as a function of time rather than as a result of RFR exposure. Now another group of researchers has confirmed that RFR exposure for 35 minutes had no effect on blood pressure and heart rate when compared with sham exposure.

For more, see "Research - Clinical Experiments - Cardiovascular effects"

Reference: Tahvanainen K, Nino J, Halonen P, Kuusela T, et al. (2004): Cellular phone use does not acutely affect blood pressure or heart rate of humans. Bioelectromagnetics 25:73-83.

Replication EEG study fails to confirm findings

Krause and colleagues have failed in an attempt to replicate the findings from their earlier study in 2000, which showed EEG changes in volunteers exposed to RF radiation. The only differences on this occasion were that the present study was double blind and the phone was attached to the left side of the subject's head, rather than the right side.

Twenty-four healthy volunteers performed an auditory memory task. The EMF was from a 902 MHz phone. The mean percentage of incorrect answers for EMF was significantly increased. This had not been the case in the authors' earlier study. However, all of the eight significant changes in the earlier study were not significant in the present one. Other changes in the present study were not seen in the 2000 study.

For more, see "Research - Clinical - EEG studies".

Reference: Krause CM, Haarala C, Sillanmaki L, Koivisto M, et al. (2004): Effects of electromagnetic field emitted by cellular phones on the EEG during an auditory memory task: A double blind replication study. Bioelectromagnetics 25:33-40.

Study fails to confirm RFR effect on rats' spatial memory

Cobb and colleagues have attempted to replicate the study by Lai et al. (1994) that showed a working memory deficit in rats exposed to 2450 MHz microwave fields. The authors used procedures that were the same as Lai's, "with the addition of a few minor changes to improve methodology". Cobb and colleagues were unable to replicate Lai's results, and found no evidence that the radiofrequency radiation affected the rats' ability to learn the spatial memory task used in the study.

For more, see "Research - Toxicological experiments - brain function".

Reference: Cobb BL, Jauchem JR, Adair ER (2004): Radial arm maze performance of rats following repeated low level microwave radiation exposure. Bioelectromagnetics 25:49-57.

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