by R. Santini, P. Santini,
J.M. Danze, P. Le Ruz, M. Seigne
Editions scientifiques et medicales
A survey study using a questionnaire was conducted on 530 people
(270 men, 260 women) living or not in the vicinity of cellular phone
base stations, on 18 Non Specific Health Symptoms.
Comparisons of complaint frequencies (CHISQUARE
test with Yates correction) in relation to the distance from base
stations and sex show significant (p <0.05) increase as compared to
people living > 300 m or not exposed to base stations, up through
300 m for tiredness, 200 m for headache, sleep disruption,
discomfort, etc., 100 m for irritability, depression, loss of
memory, dizziness, libido decrease, etc.
Women significantly more often than men
(p < 0.05) complained of headache, nausea, loss of appetite, sleep
disruption, depression, discomfort and visual disruptions. This
first study on symptoms experienced by people living in the vicinity
of base stations shows that, in view of radioprotection, the of
minimal distance of people from cellular phone base stations should
not be < 300 m.
Chronic exposure to high frequency electromagnetic fields or
microwaves brings on bioeffects in man such as headaches,
fatigue, and sleep and memory disruptions [1, 2]. These biological
effects, associated with others (skin problems, nausea,
irritability, etc.) constitute what is known in English as “Non
Specific Health Symptoms” (NSHS) that characterize radiofrequency
Cellular mobile phone technology uses hyperfrequencies (frequencies
of 900 or 1800 MHz) pulsed with extremely low frequencies
(frequencies < 300 Hertz) . Even though the biological effects
resulting from mobile phone use are relatively well known and bring
to mind those described in radiofrequency sickness [5, 6], to our
knowledge no study exists on the health of people living in the
vicinity of mobile phone base stations.
We are reporting here the results pertaining to 530 people living in
France, in the vicinity or not, of base stations, in relation to the
distances from these stations and to the sex of the study
2.1. Questionnaire employed:
A questionnaire similar to that developed for the study on mobile
phone users  was sent to people wishing to participate in
the study. General questions pertained to age, sex, estimated
distance from base stations (less than 10 m, 10 to 50 m, 50 to 100
m, 100 to 200 m, 200 to 300 m, more than 300 m) and their location
in relation to the antennas (facing, beside, behind, beneath in the
case of antennas placed on rooftops).
The exposure conditions were
defined by the length of time living in the neighborhood of base
stations, (less than 1 year through more than 5 years), the number
of days per week and the n umber of hours per day ( less than I hour
through 16-24 hours per day).
Participants were asked to indicate the presence or not of
electrical transformers (at less that 10 m), high or very high
tension electric power lines (at less that 100 m) and radio and
television transmitters (at less than 4 km). The questionnaire also
sought information on computer use (more than 2 hours per day) and
portable telephone use (more than 20 minutes per day).
The level of complaints for the studied symptoms was expressed by
the study participants using a scale of: 0 = never, 1 =
sometimes, 2 = often, 3 = very often. Of 570 questionnaires
received, 40 were not used due to lack of information on the
distance from the base stations or on the level of the complaints
experienced. For the 530 questionnaires studied, 270 came from males
(average age + or - variation: 45 years + or - 20) and 260 from
females (47 years + or - 19). 18 symptoms referenced in the “NSHS”
were the subject of the questionnaire, one of which, premature
menopause, concerned only females.
2.2 Analysis of results:
The results obtained, pertaining to the frequency of the complaints
experienced (in comparison to complaints at a level of “0”), were
analyzed by the CHI-SQUARE test with Yates correction  using a
program (STATITCF, 19787, France).
We present here the results
a) The influence of distance for the
base stations on the frequency of reported complaints, by
comparison with the reference subjects, exposed at >300 m or not
exposed (no existing base stations or non-operating base
b) The influence of sex on the frequency of reported complaints,
and this independent of the age of the subjects.
3.1 Influence of distance:
The study subjects are distributed in the following manner:
are at less than 10 m from base station antennas
between 10 and 50 m
13.8% between 50 and 100 m
9.6% between 100
and 200 m
10.1% between 200 and 300 m
20.7% are at more than
300 m or not exposed (reference group)
In comparison with the reference subject group located at >300 m or
not exposed to base stations, the complaints are
experienced to a significantly higher degree by the subjects located
in the distance zones of <10 m through 300 m from base stations.
Certain symptoms are experienced significantly more often (p < 0.05)
uniquely in the immediate vicinity of base stations (<10 m) and not
beyond that: nausea, loss of appetite, visual disruptions,
difficulty in moving.
Significant differences (p < 0.05)) are
observed up through 100 m from base stations for symptoms such as:
irritability, depressive tendencies, difficulties in concentration,
loss of memory, dizziness, lowering of libido).
In the zone 100 m to
200 m, the symptoms of headaches, sleep disruption, feelings of
discomfort, and skin problems are again experienced significantly
more often (p < 0.05) in comparison with the group of subjects at >
300 m or not exposed.
Beyond 200 m, only the symptom of fatigue is
reported at a significantly high frequency (p < 0.05) (Table 1).
By contrast, no significant effect is
demonstrated in relation to distance for the symptom of premature
menopause. A significant lowering of libido is reported for the
distances of less than 10 m, 10 to 50 m and 50 to 100 m from base
stations. For fatigue and headaches Figures 1 and 2 present the
percentages of complaints expressed as a function of distance from
3.2 Influence of sex:
Two symptoms were experienced significantly more often in women (p <
0.05) as a function o f different distance zones:
nausea at a distance of less than 10 m, and headaches at distances
of 10-50m, 50-100 m, 100-200 m, and 200-300 m. Men
complained significantly more often (p < 0.05) than women of
decrease in libido at a distance of 50 to 100 m from base stations.
When the men/women comparison is made for subjects exposed at a
distance of < 300 m, seven symptoms (headaches,
nausea, loss of appetite, sleep disruptions, depressive tendencies,
feeling of discomfort, and visual disruptions) are experienced
significantly more often in women (p < 0.05) (Table II).
contrary, in the group of subjects living beyond 300 m or not
exposed to base stations, no significant difference related to sex
appears in the frequency of complaints reported for t he different
This study gives evidence of the fact that bioeffects are reported
by people exposed at up to 300 m from base stations. The
significant increase in the frequency of complaints in relation to
the reference group (people exposed at > 300 m or not exposed) leads
toward the observation found in the Australian governmental report
indicating that at 200 m from a base station, some people exposed in
their homes are complaining of chronic fatigue and sleep disruption
The number of reported symptoms is higher close to base stations and
it decreases with increased distance from them.
Some symptoms such as nausea, loss of appetite, visual disturbances,
and difficulties in movement are no longer experienced in a
significant way beyond 10 m. For symptoms that, like fatigue,
headaches, and sleep disruptions, are experienced significantly at
considerable distances from base stations, no notable diminishment
is observed in the percentages of complaints experienced with
However, the measurements of
electromagnetic fields in the neighborhood of base stations show a
reduction in field strength over distance [1,9].
One can expect that human sensitivity to
electromagnetic waves is such that increased distance from base
stations has no significant effect on certain symptoms up to a
distance of 200 to 300 m. It is equally possible that the levels of
electromagnetic fields found around base stations would not be the
exact representation of the levels of exposure of populations. In
fact, different parameters are likely to interfere to modify the
levels and in particular fluctuations in emission strengths such as
the number of calls handled by the base stations, the reflection of
electromagnetic waves, etc. .
The results obtained demonstrate the greater sensitivity of women
for 7 of the studied NSHS. One earlier study relating to
portable phone users demonstrated a greater sensitivity of females
to the symptom of sleep disturbance. This sex-related difference is
parallel to the particular sensitivity of females to electromagnetic
fields [11, 12].
From these results and in applying the precautionary principle, it
is advisable that mobile phone base stations not be sited
closer than 300 meters to populations and most significantly because
exposed people can have different sensitivities related
particularly to their sex.
Percentages of complaints reported
compared to responses of a level of « 0 »,
by persons living in the vicinity of
base stations as a function of their distance away from a base
Influence of sex on the frequency of
symptoms reported by subjects (205 men, 215 women)
living in the vicinity (all distances
< 300 m) of mobile phone base stations
Frequencies of complaints compared to
a response level of « 0 » for the symptom of fatigue, in people
living in the vicinity of mobile phone base stations as a function
of their distance from base stations.
M = Males, F = Females, m = meters, deux (souvent) = two (often),
trois (tres souvent) = three (very often).
* = p < 0.05 (comparison with the subjects at a distance > 300 m or
Frequencies of complaints reported in
comparison to a response level of « 0 » for the symptom of headaches
in people living in the vicinit y of base stations as a function of
their distance from base stations.
M = Males, F = Females, m = meters, deux (souvent) = two (often ),
trois (tres souvent) = three (very often),
* = p < 0.05 (comparison with the subjects at a distance > 300 m or
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The authors gratefully acknowledge Janet NEWTON, President of
The EMR Network, for her help with the English translation.