Measurements of Radiofrequency Radiation with a Body-Borne Exposimeter in Swedish Schools with Wi-Fi

Our research group published recently a study on radiofrequency (RF) radiation in schools using an exposimeter. RF emissions in the classroom were measured by the teachers in order to approximate the children’s exposure. Teachers in grades 7–12 carried a body-borne exposimeter, EME-Spy 200, in school during 1–4 days of work. Eighteen teachers from seven schools participated. The mean exposure to RF radiation ranged from 1.1 to 66.1 μW/m2. The highest mean level, 396.6 μW/m2, occurred during 5 min of a lesson when the teacher let the students stream and watch YouTube videos. Maximum peaks went up to 82,857 μW/m2 from mobile phone uplink.  The exposure levels varied between the different Wi-Fi systems, and if the students were allowed to use their own smartphones on the school’s Wi-Fi network or if they were connected to GSM/3G/4G base stations outside the school. An access point over the teacher’s head gave higher exposure compared with a school with a wired Internet connection for the teacher in the classroom. All values were far below International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection’s reference values, but most mean levels measured were above the precautionary target level of 3–6 μW/m2 as proposed by the Bioinitiative Report. The length of time wireless devices are used is an essential determinant in overall exposure. Measures to minimize children’s exposure to RF radiation in school would include preferring wired connections, allowing laptops, tablets and mobile phones only in flight mode and deactivating Wi-Fi access points, when not used for learning purposes.

In Table 10 in the article examples of methods to reduce children’s exposure to RF radiation in schools are given

1. Wired connection to both teachers and students and no wireless networks or devices in school is the optimal choice. If this is not possible:
2. Wired connection to each classroom
a. to the teacher’s laptop,
b. for the students to download large files and videos.
3. To reduce exposure from Wi-Fi networks in school:
a. turn off Wi-Fi access points when not used for learning purposes,
b. position Wi-Fi access points outside of classrooms,
c. use directional Wi-Fi access points, which radiate into the direction of the client’s device.
4. Keep laptops and tablets in flight mode when Internet is not needed for learning purposes.
5. Wired connection to a landline telephone in each classroom could minimize the need for mobile phones for contact.
6. Mobile phones, including smart phones, could be left at home or collected in turned off mode. If allowed, they should be carried only in flight mode during school hours.

 

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Increasing brain tumor rates in Sweden

Recently we published a new article on brain tumor rates in Sweden using the Inpatient Register for the time period 1998-2015. Also incidence data using the Swedish Cancer Register were analyzed for the same time period. The full article can be found here, see also abstract below.

We used the Swedish Inpatient Register (IPR) to analyze rates of brain tumors of unknown type (D43) during 1998-2015. Average Annual Percentage Change (AAPC) per 100,000 increased with +2.06%, 95% confidence interval (CI) +1.27, +2.86% in both genders combined. A joinpoint was found in 2007 with Annual Percentage Change (APC) 1998-2007 of +0.16%, 95% CI -0.94, +1.28%, and 2007-2015 of +4.24%, 95% CI +2.87, +5.63%. Highest AAPC was found in the age group 20-39 years. In the Swedish Cancer Register the age-standardized incidence rate per 100,000 increased for brain tumors, ICD-code 193.0, during 1998-2015 with AAPC in men +0.49%, 95% CI +0.05, +0.94%, and in women +0.33%, 95% CI -0.29, +0.45%. The cases with brain tumor of unknown type lack morphological examination. Brain tumor diagnosis was based on cytology/histopathology in 83% for men and in 87% for women in 1980 in the Cancer Register. This frequency increased to 90% in men and 88% in women in 2015. During the same time period CT and MRI imaging techniques were introduced and morphology is not always necessary for diagnosis. If all brain tumors based on clinical diagnosis with CT or MRI had been reported to the Cancer Register the frequency of diagnoses based on cytology/histology would have decreased in the register. The results indicate underreporting of brain tumor cases to the Cancer Register. The real incidence would be higher. Thus, incidence trends based on the Cancer Register should be used with caution. Use of wireless phones should be considered in relation to the change of incidence rates.

Effects of radiofrequency exposure emitted from a GSM mobile phone on proliferation, differentiation, and apoptosis of neural stem cells

A recent article evaluated the effects of radiofrequency radiation emitted from a GSM 900-MHz mobile phone with different exposure duration on proliferation, differentiation and apoptosis of adult neural stem cells (NSCs) in vitro in mice.

Abstract: Due to the importance of neural stem cells (NSCs) in plasticity of the nervous system and treating neurodegenerative diseases, the main goal of this study was to evaluate the effects of radiofrequency radiation emitted from a GSM 900-MHz mobile phone with different exposure duration on proliferation, differentiation and apoptosis of adult murine NSCs in vitro. We used neurosphere assay to evaluate NSCs proliferation, and immunofluorescence assay of neural cell markers to examine NSCs differentiation. We also employed alamarBlue and caspase 3 apoptosis assays to assess harmful effects of mobile phone on NSCs. Our results showed that the number and size of resulting neurospheres and also the percentage of cells differentiated into neurons decreased significantly with increasing exposure duration to GSM 900-MHz radiofrequency (RF)-electromagnetic field (EMF). In contrast, exposure to GSM 900-MHz RF-EMF at different durations did not influence cell viability and apoptosis of NSCs and also their astrocytic differentiation. It is concluded that accumulating dose of GSM 900-MHz RF-EMF might have devastating effects on NSCs proliferation and neurogenesis requiring more causations in terms of using mobile devices.

One of the authors, SMJ Mortazavi, made the following summary of the results:

  1. Exposure to GSM 900 MHz mobile phone radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (RF-EMF) decreases the proliferation of neural stem cells (NSCs).
  2. Decreased neuronal differentiation in NSCs was also observed in cells exposed to RF-EMF.
  3. Exposure to GSM 900 MHz RF-EMF did not influence the viability and apoptosis of NSCs.
  4. Active neurogenesis from the stem cells occurs during the first trimester of pregnancy, which could possibly get affected by accumulating dose of exposure to mobile phone RF-EMF.
  5. Further research is needed to verify if exposure to mobile phone RF-EMF during the first trimester of pregnancy is associated with increased susceptibility to disorders such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or autism in the offspring.

Comment: These results are on mice but are anyhow of interest and add to the evidence that maternal use of mobile phone during pregnancy may increase the risk of child behavioral problems, see blog July 11, 2017.

Maternal cell phone use during pregnancy and child behavioral problems in five birth cohorts

Previous studies have reported associations between prenatal cell phone use (exposure to radiofrequent fields) and child behavioral problems. In this study  data from 83,884 mother-child pairs in the five cohorts from Denmark (1996-2002), Korea (2006-2011), the Netherlands (2003-2004), Norway (2004-2008), and Spain (2003-2008) were analyzed. Cell phone use was grouped into none, low, medium, and high, based on frequency of calls during pregnancy reported by the mothers. Evidence for a trend of increasing risk of child behavioral problems through the maternal cell phone use categories was observed for hyperactivity/inattention problems; ADHD (OR for problems in the clinical range: 1.11, 95%CI 1.01, 1.22; 1.28, 95%CI 1.12, 1.48, among children of medium and high users, respectively). Thus, maternal cell phone use during pregnancy may be associated with an increased risk for behavioral problems, particularly hyperactivity/inattention problems, in the offspring. Increased risk was also found in the high cell phone use category for overall behavioral problems and emotional problems, although not statistically significant. The study can be found here.

In all analyses low cell phone use was used as the reference category. For no cell phone use decreased risk was found for all studied behavioral problems (overall problems, ADHD and emotional problems). It is unclear why low cell phone use instead of no cell phone use was used as the reference category. Using subjects that never used a cell phone would have given higher risk estimates in the high use category.

In the Dutch cohort cordless phone use was assessed yielding similar results as for cell phone use.

World Health Organization, radiofrequency radiation and health – a hard nut to crack (Review)

In a new article by Dr Lennart Hardell health effects from radiofrequency radiation, ICNIRP and the WHO agenda are discussed. The whole article can be found here, see also abstract below.

Abstract. In May 2011 the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) evaluated cancer risks from radiofrequency (RF) radiation. Human epidemiological studies gave
evidence of increased risk for glioma and acoustic neuroma. RF radiation was classified as Group 2B, a possible human carcinogen. Further epidemiological, animal and mechanistic
studies have strengthened the association. In spite of this, in most countries little or nothing has been done to reduce exposure and educate people on health hazards from RF
radiation. On the contrary ambient levels have increased. In 2014 the WHO launched a draft of a Monograph on RF fields and health for public comments. It turned out that five
of the six members of the Core Group in charge of the draft are affiliated with International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP), an industry loyal NGO, and
thus have a serious conflict of interest. Just as by ICNIRP, evaluation of non-thermal biological effects from RF radiation are dismissed as scientific evidence of adverse health effects in the Monograph. This has provoked many comments sent to the WHO. However, at a meeting on March 3, 2017 at the WHO Geneva office it was stated that the WHO has no intention to change the Core Group.

 

 

Increased risk for glioma associated with mobile phone use in Interphone Canada

Probabilistic multiple-bias modelling applied to the Canadian data from the INTERPHONE study of mobile phone use and risk of glioma, meningioma, acoustic neuroma, and parotid gland tumors.

Momoli F, Siemiatycki J, McBride ML, Parent MÉ, Richardson L, Bedard D, Platt R, Vrijheid M, Cardis E, Krewski D.

Abstract

We undertook a re-analysis of the Canadian data from the thirteen-country INTERPHONE case-control study (2001-2004), which evaluated the association between mobile phone use and risk of brain, acoustic neuroma, and parotid gland tumors. The main publication of the multinational INTERPHONE study concluded that “biases and errors prevent a causal interpretation”. We applied a probabilistic multiple-bias model to address possible biases simultaneously, using validation data from billing records and non-participant questionnaires as information on recall error and selective participation. Our modelling sought to adjust for these sources of uncertainty and to facilitate interpretation. For glioma, the odds ratio comparing highest quartile of use (over 558 lifetime hours) to non-regular users was 2.0 (95% confidence interval: 1.2, 3.4). The odds ratio was 2.2 (95% confidence interval: 1.3, 4.1) when adjusted for selection and recall biases. There was little evidence of an increase in the risk of meningioma, acoustic neuroma, or parotid gland tumors in relation to mobile phone use. Adjustments for selection and recall biases did not materially affect interpretation in our Canadian results.

The article can be found here.

Comment:

It is noteworthy that statistically significant increased risk was found already at 558+ hours of cumulative use corresponding to 9 min per day during 10 years. This amount is much lower than now used for wireless phones. Total Interphone showed for cumulative call time, 1640 hours or more, odds ratio 1.40 (95% confidence interval 1.03–1.89) for glioma. This corresponds to less than half an hour per day (27 min) during 10 years.

Interphone Canada confirms the increased risk for glioma associated with use of wireless phones, see our recent review, Carlberg, Hardell 2017.

Effects of Mobile Phones on Children’s and Adolescents’ Health: A Commentary

Effects of Mobile Phones on Children’s and Adolescents’ Health: A Commentary

Author: Lennart Hardell

In: Special Section of Child Development. Contemporary Mobile Technology and Child and Adolescent Development, edited by Zheng Yan and Lennart Hardell, May 15, 2017.

Abstract

The use of digital technology has grown rapidly during the last couple of decades. During use, mobile phones and cordless phones emit radiofrequency (RF) radiation. No previous generation has been exposed during childhood and adolescence to this kind of radiation. The brain is the main target organ for RF emissions from the handheld wireless phone. An evaluation of the scientific evidence on the brain tumor risk was made in May 2011 by the International Agency for Research on Cancer at World Health Organization. The scientific panel reached the conclusion that RF radiation from devices that emit nonionizing RF radiation in the frequency range 30 kHz–300 GHz is a Group 2B, that is, a “possible” human carcinogen. With respect to health implications of digital (wireless) technologies, it is of importance that neurological diseases, physiological addiction, cognition, sleep, and behavioral problems are considered in addition to cancer. Well-being needs to be carefully evaluated as an effect of changed behavior in children and adolescents through their interactions with modern digital technologies.

Discussion

In spite of the IARC evaluation little has happened to reduce exposure to RF fields in most countries. The exposure guideline used by many agencies was established in 1998 by the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) and was based on thermal (heating) effects from RF radiation neglecting non-thermal biological effects. It was updated in 2009 and still gives the guideline 2 to 10 W/m2 for RF radiation depending on frequency.

In contrast to ICNIRP the BioInitiative Report from 2007, updated in 2012, based the evaluation also on non-thermal health effects from RF radiation. The scientific benchmark for possible health risks was defined to be 30 to 60 µW/m2.  Thus, using the significantly higher guideline by ICNIRP gives a ‘green card’ to roll out the digital technology thereby not considering non-thermal health effects from RF radiation. Numerous health hazards are disregarded such as cancer, neurological diseases, psychological addiction, cognition, sleep and behavioral problems.

For obvious reasons the extent and severity of long-term health effects among children and adolescents using this technology are not know. However, there are already numerous peer-reviewed studies showing health hazards from wireless devices. Urgent action using the precautionary principle is needed.