Topic > Environment and Health

Non-Ionising Radiation

Exposure to non-ionising radiation has become almost unavoidable. Electric devices produce extremely low frequency magnetic fields (ELF-MF) and radio-frequency electromagnetic fields (RF-EMF) are used for wireless communication. Both types of non-ionising radiation are suspected to impair human health. Using epidemiological methods, including personal measurements, Swiss TPH experts scrutinise a variety of potential health consequences, ranging from tumours to sleep disturbances. The possible biological pathways of non-ionising radiation are elucidated by means of bioinformatics.

The Health Impact of Mobile Phones

HERMES (Health effects related to mobile phone use in adolescents) studied the link between mobile phone use in adolescents and impacts on cognitive functions, behaviour and health-related quality of life. Two PhD students evaluated usage data from around 500 adolescents in years 7 and 8 over a period of 12 months, and tested their cognitive ability with standardised computer tests. Now in its second phase, Hermes continues under the European-wide GERoNIMO project (Generalised EMF Research using Novel Methods), including 900 study participants.

Link to Project

Trains are assessed in terms of electromagnetic field exposure.

Measuring Exposure Levels Across Europe

Swiss TPH researchers lead an international study aiming at testing a novel "radiofrequency exposure meter" that achieves considerably higher sensitivity levels than the already existing personal exposure assessment methods. The new body-worn device allows for radiofrequency measurement and comparison of micro-environments like trains, shopping centres or town centres across five different European countries. The results allow quantifying radiofrequency exposure contributions from these settings, and evaluating the impact of policies related to electromagnetic field exposure of the population in various countries.

Link to Project

Mobile phone radiation impairs the figurative memory of pupils.

Children’s Exposure to Extremely Low Frequency Magnetic Fields

Swiss TPH epidemiologists develop a model based on the exposure data from 6-12 years old children, including activity and geographic (GPS) information. Combined with other stochastic models, this allows them to investigate the health impact of new technologies on the children’s exposure to extremely low frequency magnetic fields.

Link to Project

Expert Group on Non-Ionising Radiation