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09/08/2004 - Bad health caused by phone mast radiation


Researchers from Valencia University in Spain, investigated people's health in a small town near Murcia, where two mobile phone masts had been erected in the past 7 years. The results of the investigations have been plotted against levels of radiation in their homes from the masts, to see if there is any link between the radiation levels and health problems.

Layman's Summary

Many symptoms of 'microwave sickness' increased considerably with exposure to microwave radiation, in particular Depression, Fatigue, Concentration Loss, Appetite Loss and Heart and Blood Pressure Problems. These occurred at radiation levels found around most masts.

Key Information

  • Depression increased by up to 64-fold.
  • Fatigue increased by up to 37-fold.
  • Appetite Loss increased by up to 25-fold.

Report Detail

Author/s: Oberfeld Gerd, Navarro A. Enrique et al
Title: The Microwave Syndrome - Further Aspects of a Spanish Study
Publication Date: Not yet published - expected October 2004
Download report

Detailed Analysis

The Microwave Syndrome: Further Aspects of a Spanish study - Oberfeld, Navarro, Portoles, Maestu & Gomez-Perretta, 2004 (to be published).

Questionnaires were distributed; 144 were completed and returned for analysis. 97 homes were measured and the residential microwave exposure was split into 3 groups according to the levels measured in the bedroom:

  • 0.02 - 0.04 V/m
  • 0.05 - 0.22 V/m
  • 0.25 - 1.29 V/m

The results, when adjusted for sex, age & distance showed statistically significant dose-response associations between the measured exposure level and:-
Depressive tendency, fatigue, loss of appetite, difficulty in concentration, cardiovascular problems, nausea, feeling of discomfort, sleeping disorder, irritability, dizziness, skin disorder, loss of memory & headaches.

13 out of the 16 symptoms examined, showed a significantly increased risk when the high exposure group was compared with the low exposure group. Of even more concern is that 10 out of the 16 showed a significantly increased risk when the high exposure group was compared with the intermediate exposure group.

The questionnaires were distributed & collected in October-November 2000, 1 year or more from when the 2 base stations began operating. Measurements in the 97 bedrooms were taken in February-March 2001, and six of these were randomly selected for re-measurement in July 2004, to validate the 2001 measurements.

29% of the participants used a mobile phone for more than 20 minutes a day. 43% reported living closer than 100 metres to a high voltage power line. We, at Powerwatch, feel that mobile phone use at this level may at least in part contribute towards the reports of concentration & memory problems, and proximity to power lines may increase the reports of depressive tendencies (see Perry references at the end).

The authors suggest that power frequency measurements could usefully be made in future studies to reduce the possibility of misclassification.

The authors recommend a maximum level of exposure of 0.02 V/m (0.0001 mW/cm2), the precautionary indoor exposure value for GSM base stations proposed on empirical evidence by the Public Health Office of the Government of Salzburg in 2002.

Navarro et al. (2003) - The microwave syndrome: a preliminary study in Spain, Electromagnetic Biology & Medicine 22 (2) 161-169
Perry, Pearl & Binns (1989) - Power frequency magnetic field: depressive illness & myocardial infarction, Public Health 103, 177-180
Perry & Pearl (1988) - Power frequency magnetic field & illness in multi-storey blocks, Public Health 102, 11-18

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