Balmori, A. Evidence for a health risk by RF on humans living around mobile phone base stations: From radiofrequency sickness to cancer. Environmental Research (2022), doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2022.113851.
Introduction: During the last few decades, hundreds of thousands of mobile phone base stations and other types of wireless communications antennas have been installed around the world, in cities and in nature, including protected natural areas, in addition to pre-existing antennas (television, radio broadcasting, radar, etc.). Only the aesthetic aspects or urban regulations have been generally considered in this deployment, while the biological, environmental and health impacts of the associated non-ionizing electromagnetic radiation emissions have not been assessed so far. Therefore, the effects on humans living around these anthropogenic electromagnetic field sources (antennas) have not been considered.
In France, there is a significant contribution of mobile phone base stations in the exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (RF-EMF) of urban citizens living nearby (De Giudici et al., 2021). Some studies from India indicate that more than 15% of people have levels of EMF strength above 12 V/m due to their proximity to antennas (Premlal and Eldhose, 2017). Exposure estimates have shown that RF-EMF from mobile telephone systems is stronger in urban than in rural areas. For instance, in Sweden the levels of RF radiation have increased considerably in recent years, both outdoor and indoor, due to new telecommunication technologies, and the median power density measured for RF fields between 30 MHz and 3 GHz was 16 μW/m2 in rural areas, 270 μW/m2 in urban areas and 2400 μW/m2 in city areas (Hardell et al., 2018). Total exposure varies not only between urban and rural areas but also, depending on residential characteristics, between different floors of a building, with a tendency for building exposure to increase at higher floors (Breckenkamp et al., 2012).
Over the past five decades, and more intensively since the beginning of this century, many studies and several reviews have been published on the effects of anthropogenic electromagnetic radiation on humans living around the antennas. The first studies were carried out with radio and television antennas, investigating increases in cancer and leukaemia (Milham, 1988; Maskarinec et al., 1994; Hocking et al., 1996; Dolk et al., 1997a, 1997b; Michelozzi et al., 1998; Altpeter et al., 2000), as well as around radars (Kolodynski and Kolodynska, 1996; Goldsmith, 1997).
Regarding base station antennas, there are scientific discrepancies in their effects: some studies concluded that there are no health-related effects (e.g. Augner and Hacker, 2009; Blettner et al., 2009; Röösli et al., 2010; Baliatsas et al., 2016) whereas others found increases in cancer and other health problems in humans living around antennas (e.g. Santini et al., 2002; Navarro et al., 2003; Bortkiewicz et al., 2004; Eger et al., 2004; Wolf and Wolf, 2004; Abdel-Rassoul et al., 2007; Khurana et al., 2010; Dode et al., 2011; Shinjyo and Shinjyo, 2014; Gandhi et al., 2015; López et al., 2021; Rodrigues et al., 2021). There is a specific symptomatology linked to radar and RF exposure at low levels, characterized by functional disturbances of the central nervous system (headache, sleep disturbance, discomfort, irritability, depression, memory loss, dizziness, fatigue, nausea, appetite loss, difficulty in concentration, dizziness, etc.), that has been termed ‘RF sickness’ (Lilienfeld et al., 1978; Johnson Lyakouris, 1998; Navarro et al., 2003).
Results: The studies that met the selected criteria are presented in chronological order in Table 1, catalogued as Y/N depending on whether or not they found effects. The selected studies cover three types of effects: radiofrequency sickness (RS) (according to Lilienfeld et al., 1978; Johnson Lyakouris, 1998), cancer (C) and changes in biochemical parameters (CBP). Table 1 also includes the authors, year and country, antenna type, study design, diseases and symptoms found/not found and the main conclusions of each study.
For the reasons previously explained, the following studies (n=85) were not considered in this review, even though the conclusions of some of these studies will be discussed later due
to their importance regarding the similarities of the electromagnetic radiation types involved and the effects found in many cases….
The International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) is a private organization that issues exposure guidelines that are then adopted by governments, but it has been accused of having conflicts of interest (Hardell and Carlberg, 2020; Hardell et al., 2021). The ICNIRP (2010, 2020) limits are thousands of times above the levels where effects are recorded for both extremely low frequency and RF man-made EMF and account only for thermal effects, whereas the vast majority of recorded effects are non-thermal. These existing guidelines for public health protection only consider the effects of acute intense (thermal) exposures and do not protect from lower level long-term exposures (Israel et al., 2011; Yakimenko et al., 2011; Blank et al., 2015; Starkey, 2016; Belpomme and Irigaray, 2022). The exposure duration is crucial to assess the induced effects.
Conclusion: In the current circumstances, it seems that the scientific experts in the field are very clear about the serious problems we are facing and have expressed this through important appeals (Blank et al., 2015; Hardell and Nyberg, 2020). However, the media, the responsible organizations (World Health Organization, 2015) and the governments are not transmitting this crucial information to the population, who remain uninformed. For these reasons, the current situation will probably end in a crisis not only for health but also for the technology itself, as it is unsustainable and harmful to the environment and the people.