Epidemiological Studies

With regard to community exposures from base stations antennas, there is a scientific consensus that these levels are many thousands of times below the international safety standards, even at short distances from the antennas. The few published epidemiological studies with a minimally accepted degree of quality have not demonstrated any clear effects of RF exposure on morbidity, mortality, effects on well-being and health status of population groups living near the RF sources. Long duration studies are lacking, however. Furthermore, it is difficult to separate exposures to cell phone base stations from those of other sources, such as radio and TV broadcasts, with any degree of accuracy.

On the other hand, a much larger number of epidemiological studies investigating possible effects of RF exposure of cell phone handset users have been published. Many of them have a good methodological quality and a large number of subjects. While some large cohort studies have not detected any higher risks for users of cell phones for a period up to 15 years when compared to non-users, for a number of outcomes, including malignant and benign tumors of the nervous system; a small number of restricted epidemiological studies have contradicted these results for some tumors, among heavy and long time users, in the most used side of the head. Larger and better controlled studies, such as INTERPHONE (an international collaborative study which has involved 16 careful case/control studies in 13 different countries), generally reported a lack of statistical associations, except for a disputable slighter higher risk of gliomas and acoustic neuromas for users with more than 10 years of use. No epidemiological studies with long term exposures larger than 20 years have been published so far, as well as no study addressing health risks of cell phone usage by children and adolescents.

Epidemiological studies of associations between exposure of populations to RF of cell phones or base stations and several other health problems, such as neurodegenerative disorders, cardiovascular diseases, cataracts, reproductive health changes, behavioral changes and nonspecific symptoms, etc. have resulted in mostly statistically non-significant associations.

In addition, there is a large number of methodological difficulties in epidemiological studies of exposure to low-level RF, including several kinds of biases which are hard to identify and compensate for.

We conclude, therefore, that current published RF epidemiological studies have not shown any sizable, incontrovertible and reproducible adverse health effect, and that numerous methodological flaws, along with only the few outcomes examined so far, do not allow for firm conclusions, particularly as it relates to children and to continuous exposure for periods larger than 20 years.

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