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Keywords:

  • RF exposure;
  • subjective symptoms;
  • provocation study;
  • heart rate variability;
  • perception

Abstract

With the number of cellular phone users rapidly increasing, there is a considerable amount of public concern regarding the effects that electromagnetic fields (EMFs) from cellular phones have on health. People with self-attributed electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS) complain of subjective symptoms such as headaches, insomnia, and memory loss, and attribute these symptoms to radio frequency (RF) radiation from cellular phones and/or base stations. However, EHS is difficult to diagnose because it relies on a person's subjective judgment. Various provocation studies have been conducted on EHS caused by Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) phones in which heart rate and blood pressure or subjective symptoms were investigated. However, there have been few sham-controlled provocation studies on EHS with Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) phones where physiological parameters, subjective symptoms, and perception of RF radiation for EHS and non-EHS groups were simultaneously investigated. In this study, two volunteer groups of 18 self-reported EHS and 19 non-EHS persons were tested for both sham and real RF exposure from CDMA cellular phones with a 300 mW maximum exposure that lasted half an hour. We investigated not only the physiological parameters such as heart rate, respiration rate, and heart rate variability (HRV), but also various subjective symptoms and the perception of EMF. In conclusion, RF exposure did not have any effects on physiological parameters or subjective symptoms in either group. As for EMF perception, there was no evidence that the EHS group better perceived EMF than the non-EHS group. Bioelectromagnetics 30:641–650, 2009. © 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.