The rise in the use of mobile and cell phones amongst adolescents and teens is surely a concerning issue today. The use of these devices increases the exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (RF-EMF). The most exposed part of the human body is the brain region which gets exposed during the use of mobile phones. Cell phone EMF radiation may have a harmful effect on memory performance in specific brain regions that are exposed during phone calls. This finding was found in a study involving nearly 700 adolescents in Switzerland.
The study, led by the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, published on Thursday, July 19, 2018, in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives.
The investigation studied the relationship between exposure to RF-EMF from wireless communication devices and memory performance in nearly 700 adolescents over a period of one year. Participants, aged 12 to 17 years, were recruited from 7th to 9th public school grades in urban and rural areas of Swiss-German speaking Switzerland. This study follows up to a report published in the scientific journal Environment International in 2015.
The latest study was conducted with twice the sample size and by using more recent information on the absorption of RF-EMF in adolescents’ brains during different types of wireless communication devices used today by teens and adolescents.
The findings show that RF-EMF brain exposure from cell phone use over one year may have a negative effect on the development of figural memory performance in adolescents, confirming prior results published in 2015. Figural memory is mainly located in the right brain hemisphere and association with RF-EMF was more pronounced in adolescents using the mobile phone on the right side of the head.
“This may suggest that indeed RF-EMF absorbed by the brain is responsible for the observed associations,” said Martin Roosli. He is Professor for environmental epidemiology at the Swiss Tropical- and Public Health Institute in Basel and leads the Environmental Exposures and Health Unit.
The main contributors to the total personal RF-EMF were exposures from mobile phones (67.2%) and from mobile phone base stations (19.8%). WLAN at school and at home had little impact on the personal measurements (WLAN accounted for 3.5% of total personal measurements).
According to the dose calculations, exposure from environmental sources (broadcast transmitters, mobile phone base stations, cordless phone base stations, WLAN access points, and mobile phones in the surroundings) contributed on average 6.0% to the brain dose and 9.0% to the whole-body dose.
RF-EMF exposure of adolescents is dominated by their own mobile phone use. Environmental sources such as mobile phone base stations play a minor role. Potential risks to the brain can be minimized by using headphones or the loudspeaker while calling, in particular when network quality is low and the mobile phone is functioning at maximum power.
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