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 SPUTNIC Study
We are constantly surrounded by mobile phones, for quick calls, checking our email, watching movies, reading the news. Being connected has many advantages, but these technologies also increase our exposure to mobile phone radiation. The SPUTNIC study aims to investigate possible correlations between mobile phone radiation and human health.
For this purpose, the individual radiation exposure of the study participants is determined with the help of a smartphone app and possible effects on memory, concentration, logical thinking and sleep quality are investigated using several fun, game-like cognitive tests and a fitness-measuring device. The findings can help to assess if further restrictions on exposure to mobile phone radiation should be applied and which group of persons may be mostly affected.
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.
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. Read more about the project.
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.