Feeds

Why 3G won't fry your brain just yet

Dutch health study questioned

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications

A study for the Dutch government which linked UMTS or G3 base stations to complaints about nausea and headaches in people close to them, has caused quite a stir this week, but only in the media.

The actual study (download the PDF here) conducted by the technological research institute TNO is less conclusive. Most reporters forgot to mention that only a very small group of people participated in the double-blind experiment, whereby participants do not know whether they are exposed to 3G base station signals or not.

Indeed, some subjects said they felt tingling sensations, got headaches and felt nauseous. But then again, how would you feel in a shielded semi-anechoic chamber?

The study also suggests that cognitive functions such as memory and response times were boosted. Some people became more alert when were exposed to signals from GSM and UMTS antennae. But thermal effects, or the warming up of body tissue, could play a role here too. Third-generation UMTS networks transmit signals at a higher frequency range.

TNO seems to be aware of its shortcomings: the report says that because of a lack of scientific data "a prediction of reasonable electromagnetic exposure is not possible". And that the constant presence of the base station antennas during the measurements "might invite the subjects to malinger the results". And that the "dimension of changes observed" is relatively small.

TNO also admits that it not possible to speculate on "a scientifically justified hypothesis to explain the potential effects on cognition". In other words: we measured something, but we don't know what it is.

The GSM Association claims that the effects reported are too small to be taken seriously. Ericsson too downplayed the report this week, telling Reuters there is no scientific evidence that there are any health problems associated with radio waves from mobile communications.

The government ministers responsible for Economic Affairs, Health and Telecommunications in the Netherlands reconfirmed this week that follow-up research is needed to substantiate the findings as well as to look at any longer-term health effects and biological causes. Germany's Research Association for Radio Applications already commissioned its own health study. Until we know the results, let's assume UMTS won't fry you brain just yet. ®

HP ProLiant Gen8: Integrated lifecycle automation

More from The Register

next story
Scotland's BIG question: Will independence cost me my broadband?
They can take our lives, but they'll never take our SPECTRUM
Bring back error correction, say Danish 'net boffins
We don't need no steenkin' TCP/IP retransmission and the congestion it causes
Auntie remains MYSTIFIED by that weekend BBC iPlayer and website outage
Still doing 'forensics' on the caching layer – Beeb digi wonk
NBN Co adds apartments to FTTP rollout
Commercial trial locations to go live in September
Samsung Z Tizen OS mobe is post-phoned – this time for good?
Russian launch for Sammy's non-droid knocked back
Telstra to KILL 2G network by end of 2016
GSM now stands for Grave-Seeking-Mobile network
Seeking LTE expert to insert small cells into BT customers' places
Is this the first step to a FON-a-like 4G network?
What FTC lawsuit? T-Mobile US touts 10GB, $100 family-of-4 plan
Folks 'could use that money for more important things' says CEO Legere
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable
Learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.