04/07/2003 - 3G / UMTS mobile base station (mast) signals can cause nausea, headache
Microwave signals for the next generation (3G / UMTS) of mobile phone
services can cause headaches and nausea, according to a study conducted by three
Dutch ministries. They tested two groups of people, totalling about 76 subjects,
one group being 'completely healthy' and the other group who had reported to the
Dutch Health Monitoring Network that they were suffering adverse health effects
from living near to a base station. They excluded subjects who were suffered
from epilepsy, brain injury, claustrophobia, or were using medication to
counteract mental health problems.
Both groups experienced statistically significant adverse effects on their
'well being' as defined by the World Health Organisation (WHO).
The first properly conducted study that exposed people to typical levels of
signals that the public would be experience from mobile phone base stations
(masts) compared - nothing, GSM900, GSM1800 and UMTS/3G exposures at only 1
volt per metre. At present only Hutchison 3G (a.k.a. '3') is the only
UK Operator offering such a system, though the other Operators are all actively
installing 3G base stations near to people's homes. The study, conducted by the
Dutch technological research institute TNO, was the first to look for an impact
of mobile telephones on well-being. It was also the first study to find a
statistically significant impact from 3G base stations.
A 3G base station covers a "cell" area of a few square kilometers, and
transmits signals to mobile phones using microwave radiation.
No-one knew when anyone was being exposed - it was a welll controlled
'double-blind' study. "When the test group was exposed to third generation
base station signals there was a significant impact ... They felt tingling
sensations, got headaches and felt nauseous," a spokeswoman for the Dutch
Economics Ministry said. There was no overall negative effect from signals for
the older GSM mobile network signals.
The study found that cognitive functions such as memory and response times
were changed by both 3G signals and the current GSM signals, although the
overall effect was to decrease their sense of 'well-being'. 3G signals seemed to
stimulate the brain. This supports the anecdotal reports Powerwatch has been
receiving from members of the public about disrupted sleep and bad dreams when
living near to base stations, especially TETRA and 3G ones.
Government ministers responsible for Economic Affairs, Health and
Telecommunications said follow-up research was urgently needed to confirm the
findings as well as to look at any longer-term health effects and biological
Previous research did find an effect on cognitive functions, which was also
found in the Dutch survey. But TNO noted that earlier studies always measured
the impact of cellphones held close to the head, causing high fields of
radiation close to the ear and warming of the brain.
TNO's study used a far lower dose of radiation to mimic real base station
signals rather than those from handsets held next to the head. Handsets emit
stronger radiation when they are used, while base stations transmit more
constant levels of radio signals, exposing everyone within range.
TNO-report FEL-03-C148. Effects of Global Communication system
radio-frequency fields on Well Being and Cognitive Functions of human subjects
with and without subjective complaints. Prof dr ir APM Zwamborn, Dr ir
SHJA Vossen, et al.
This is laboratory confirmation of what we already knew from what members
of the general public have been telling us. If you live near to such a mast you
can take avoiding action by using microwave screening materials.