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Dutch downplay 3G health scare study

Results require verification, says Health Council

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The Dutch Health Council says that a study by research institute TNO which linked UMTS or 3G base stations to complaints about nausea and headaches in people close to them needs to be replicated. The study caused quite a stir last year.

TNO reported that some subjects felt tingling sensations, got headaches and felt nauseous after being exposed to strong electromagnetic fields. The study also suggested 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.

Although the Health Council praises the design and execution of the TNO study, it believes the results do not allow determination of whether a causal relationship exists between electromagnetic field exposure and a decrease in well-being or adverse health effects. The TNO study is a first and therefore suffers from the statistical uncertainties inherent to experimental research. The validity of the questionnaire that has been used to measure well-being is also debated by the Health Council. The council says that a new study should be performed by researchers who are independent from TNO, but under identical exposure conditions as the TNO study sunbects.

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

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