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EMF Study
(Database last updated on Jan 14, 2020)

ID Number 1635
Study Type Human / Provocation
Model 900 MHz (GSM) and 2 GHz (UMTS) exposure to human volunteers and analysis of cerebral blood flow using NIRS

Volunteers (n = 16) were exposed to 900 MHz (GSM) RF at 0, 1.2, or 12 W/kg (peak over 10 grams) for 20 minutes (with an on/off pattern) and evaluated during exposure for changes in cerebral blood circulation using near-infrared spectrophotometry. The authors report significant decreases in cerebral blood flow and cerebral blood volume within 20 seconds of initial exposure in the exposed hemisphere (as determined from oxyhemoglobin : deoxyhemoglobin concentration), although these changes were smaller than normal physiologic variations, had no dose response relationship with exposure, and did not persist after a few minutes of exposure. The authors also acknowledge the significant degree of variability and potential for confounding due to the experimental setup. AUTHORS' ABSTRACT: Lehmann et al. 2011 (#5097): A head exposure setup for efficient and precisely defined exposure of human subjects equipped with a near-infrared imaging (NIRI) sensor is presented. In a partially shielded anechoic chamber the subjects were exposed to Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS)-like electromagnetic fields (EMF) by using a patch antenna at a distance of 4 cm from the head. The non-contact design of the exposure setup enabled NIRI sensors to easily attach to the head. Moreover, different regions of the head were chosen for localised exposure and simultaneous NIRI investigation. The control software enabled the simple adaptation of the test parameters during exploratory testing as well as the performance of controlled, randomised, crossover and double-blind provocation studies. Four different signals with a carrier frequency of 1900 MHz were chosen for the exposure: a simple continuous wave signal and three different UMTS signals. Furthermore, three exposure doses were available: sham, low (spatial peak specific absorption rate (SAR) = 0.18 W/kg averaged over 10 g) and high (spatial peak SAR = 1.8 W/kg averaged over 10 g). The SAR assessment was performed by measurement and simulation. Direct comparison of measurement and numerical results showed good agreement in terms of spatial peak SAR and SAR distribution. The variability analysis of the spatial peak SAR over 10 g was assessed by numerical simulations. Maximal deviations of -22% and +32% from the nominal situation were observed. Compared to other exposure setups, the present setup allows for low exposure uncertainty, combined with high SAR efficiency, easy access for the NIRI sensor and minimal impairment of test subjects. AUTHORS' ABSTRACT: Spichtig et al. 2012 (IEEE #5493): The aim of the present study was to assess the potential effects of intermittent Universal Mobile Telecommunications System electromagnetic fields (UMTS-EMF) on blood circulation in the human head (auditory region) using near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) on two different timescales: short-term (effects occurring within 80 s) and medium-term (effects occurring within 80 s to 30 min). For the first time, we measured potential immediate effects of UMTS-EMF in real-time without any interference during exposure. Three different exposures (sham, 0.18 W/kg, and 1.8 W/kg) were applied in a controlled, randomized, crossover, and double-blind paradigm on 16 healthy volunteers. In addition to oxy-, deoxy-, and total haemoglobin concentrations ([O(2) Hb], [HHb], and [tHb], respectively), the heart rate (HR), subjective well-being, tiredness, and counting speed were recorded. During exposure to 0.18 W/kg, we found a significant short-term increase in ”[O(2) Hb] and ”[tHb], which is small (H17%) compared to a functional brain activation. A significant decrease in the medium-term response of ”[HHb] at 0.18 and 1.8 W/kg exposures was detected, which is in the range of physiological fluctuations. The medium-term ”HR was significantly higher (+1.84 bpm) at 1.8 W/kg than for sham exposure. The other parameters showed no significant effects. Our results suggest that intermittent exposure to UMTS-EMF has small short- and medium-term effects on cerebral blood circulation and HR.

Findings Effects
Status Completed With Publication
Principal Investigator ETH, Zurich, Switzerland -
Funding Agency Nat'l Res Prog, Switzerland (SNSF, NRP57)
  • Wolf, M et al. Optics Express, (2006) 14:6128-6141
  • Lehmann, H et al. Bioelectromagnetics., (2012) 33:124-133
  • Spichtig, S et al. Bioelectromagnetics., (2012) 33:40-54
  • Comments

    The authors report that their NIRS technique to measure cerebral blood flow has advantages over PET scans including a higher time resolution and does not require radioactive tracers. They also note that the Acherman et al studies report increases, while the Aalto et al studies show increases and decreases. The study was corroborated by more recent studies of Curcio et al J Cereb Blood Flow Metab 2009