Research Needs on Health Effects

The committee from the National Research Council that wrote the report identified research needs and gaps based on presentations made by international experts and discussion sessions that evaluated disciplines and topics such as measurement of RF energy and exposure, studies on human populations, human laboratory measurements, and animal and cell biology.

In the report, research needs are defined as studies that, in the near term, could increase understanding of any potential adverse effects of RF energy on humans. Gaps are defined as research studies that are of lower priority or that should not be carried out until the results of current research studies are evaluated. The committee did not evaluate potential health effects or recommend how the identified research needs should be met.

One research need is studies of any potential health consequences from multiple, long-term, low-intensity RF exposure as opposed to most of the present data that evaluates acute effects on healthy adults during short exposures to RF fields. For instance, measuring the amount of RF energy received by juveniles, children, pregnant women, and fetuses from wireless devices and RF base station antennas could help define exposure ranges for various populations.

Other research needs identified by the committee include:
  • Completing a prospective study of adults in a general population and a retrospective group with medium to high occupational exposures.

  • Conducting human laboratory studies that focus on possible effects of RF electromagnetic fields on neural networks and the brain's electrical activity.

  • Completing human population studies of children and pregnant women, including childhood cancers and brain cancer.

  • Evaluating effects of RF doses at the microscopic level.

  • Characterizing radiated electromagnetic fields for typical multiple-element base station antennas and exposures to affected individuals.; Source: The National Academies