A study conducted by the Swiss Tropical and Health Institute (TPH) has investigated the relationship between RF EMF exposure from mobile phones and memory performance in young people. The study builds on a report published in 2015 in the journal Environment International and includes twice the sample size and more recent information on the absorption of electromagnetic radiation in the brain of young people. These are the world’s first epidemiological studies to estimate the cumulative brain HF-EMF dose in adolescents.
The study found that cumulative exposure to brain RF-EMF from mobile phones for one year can have a negative impact on the development of figurative memory performance in adolescents. Figure memory is mainly located in the right hemisphere, and the influence of RF-EMF was more pronounced in those adolescents who also used their mobile phone on the right side of the head. “This indicates that electromagnetic radiation absorbed by the brain is responsible for the observed relationships,” says Martin Röösli, Head of the Environment and Health Unit at Swiss TPH.
Other aspects of wireless communication such as sending text messages, playing games or surfing the Internet cause little radiation exposure to the brain and showed no connection with the development of memory performance. “A unique point of this study is the use of objectively collected user data from mobile phone operators,” said Röösli. However, he stressed that further research was necessary to exclude the influence of other factors. “For example, the study results may have been influenced by puberty, which affects both mobile phone use and the behaviour and cognitive abilities of the participants.
The data collected in the study Health Effects Related to Mobile phone usE in adolescentS (HERMES) concerned the relationship between RF EMF exposure and the development of memory performance of nearly 700 adolescents over a period of one year. Participants aged 12 to 17 were recruited in public schools in urban and rural areas of German-speaking Switzerland.