Mobile devices have transformed how hundreds of millions of people manage their daily lives and run their businesses. Global adoption has been rapid compared with other technological developments in previous eras. Scientific reviews have made a vital contribution to establishing industry guidelines and standards.

Vodafone follows the results of these independent expert reviews to understand developments in the scientific research related to mobile devices, base stations and health. We consider the opinions of panels commissioned by recognised national (see list below) or international health agencies such as the World Health Organization (WHO), the European Commission’s Scientific Committee on Health, Environmental and Emerging Risks (SCHEER) and the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP).

We support open debate on the body of published scientific evidence and will continue to share information on significant scientific developments.

 

From observation to publication – how scientists investigate

Scientific discovery is a process. Those discoveries pass through several phases: from hypothesis, through testing and analysis, to writing up results and publication. That publication may then be reviewed by others in a process known as peer review. In addition, other scientists will often try to replicate the study to see if the findings can be repeated.

This short animated film describes how this process works.

 

How we assess evidence

Scientists and public health officials from individual countries and global agencies such as WHO assess risks to human health based on the entire body of evidence available at a given point in time, rather than by using individual scientific studies.

Evidence is considered by panels of experts from many different scientific disciplines, to ensure all aspects are considered and that conclusions are a combined decision.

Vodafone reviews the research conducted into mobiles, base stations and health where it is:

  • designed, performed and reported independently;
  • conducted under the auspices of a national or international health agency by a panel of experts; and/or
  • published in peer-reviewed literature.

Scientific research must always be carried out to very high, globally recognised scientific standards, including the use of best practice experimental procedures, and must be executed with integrity or the results can be misleading or could be misinterpreted. We publish links to the latest scientific research that meet these standards in an effort to ensure our customers and stakeholders can access the information easily.

 

Supporting research needs

While WHO sets priority areas for research, it is taken up by international, national and regional research programmes.

A number of new studies have contributed to ongoing dialogue and research, but there are still some gaps in scientific knowledge and more research is under way. This includes studies prioritised by WHO that monitor the health effects of the long-term use of mobiles and the use of mobiles by children – for example, the Mobi-Kids study.

Vodafone only funds research into mobiles, base stations and health through funding bodies such as national governments to ensure that the research remains independent of industry influence, including our own.

We also respond to requests from bodies conducting research by providing technical advice and information on the use of mobile devices. This helps to ensure scientists have access to the best quality information available. As an example, we responded to scientists from the international study COSMOS to provide information about call duration for their voluntary participants. The scientists analysed mobile device use and possible long-term effects on health. The information was supplied with due care and attention paid to data protection rules in each market and was in line with our Privacy Commitments.

 

Read independent reports

Since 2001, a significant number of reports and reviews of scientific research studies into mobiles, base stations and health have been published by independent expert panels around the world.

We have provided a short, factual outline of each organisation and their report, with links to the various publications and the evidence they contain; these are grouped into international and national publications.

The national publications are provided for Australia, Canada, Finland, France, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Sweden and the UK.

 

International reports

The reports produced by a range of global or regional institutions are shown in reverse chronology, with the latest publication shown first.

World Health Organization (WHO)

Directs and coordinates international health within the United Nations system. WHO established the International Electromagnetic Fields Project in 1996 to assess the scientific evidence of possible adverse health effects and will conduct a formal risk assessment of all studied health outcomes from radio frequency fields exposure, which is due to be published in 2017.

Oct 2014

Fact sheet No. 193
Electromagnetic fields and public health: mobile phones

Provides an assessment of the exposure levels associated with mobiles phones and their health effects and outlines exposure limit guidelines. Also contains WHO’s response to public and government concern.

Jul 2011

CEFALO

CEFALO is an international case-control study examining the association between mobile phone use and the risk of brain tumours in children and adolescents. The study was conducted in Switzerland, Denmark, Norway and Sweden and the main results were published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute in July 2011 (Aydin et al., JNCI, 2011).

Oct 2010

Systematic review on the health effects of exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields from mobile phone base stations

Prepared for WHO by the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute and the University of Basel. Aims to present a systematic review of the scientific literature concerning all the health effects of mobile phone base station radiation that have been investigated to date.

May 2006

Backgrounder: base stations and wireless technologies

Reviews the scientific evidence on the health effects from continuous low-level human exposure to base stations and other local wireless networks. Outlines protection standards and includes a summary of associated WHO initiatives.

Dec 2005

Backgrounder: electromagnetic hypersensitivity

Describes what is known about the condition of electromagnetic hypersensitivity and provides information for helping people with such symptoms.

International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC)

IARC is the specialist, interdisciplinary cancer agency of WHO. It aims to promote international collaboration by bringing together skills in epidemiology, laboratory sciences and biostatistics.

Apr 2013

IARC Monographs Volume 102
Non-Ionizing Radiation, Part 2: Radiofrequency Electromagnetic Fields

Contains evaluations of the carcinogenic hazard to humans (30 kHz to 300 GHz). Does not specifically or exclusively consider mobile phones, but rather the type of radiation emitted by mobile phones and various other sources (press release published a summary at the conclusion of the IARC meeting May 2011).

Feb 2012

Interphone study reports on mobile phone use and brain cancer risk

Interphone study, a major piece of research into the possible health effects of mobile devices.

International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP)

A non-profit organisation that aims to protect people and the environment against adverse effects of non-ionizing radiation (NIR) by developing and disseminating science-based advice on limiting exposure. 

Jul 2011

ICNIRP Sci Review
Mobile phones, brain tumours and the Interphone study: where are we now?

Review of evidence on whether mobile phone use raises a risk of the main types of brain tumour (glioma and meningioma), with a particular focus on the recent publication of the largest epidemiological study yet conducted, the 13-country Interphone study

Jul 2009

Exposure to high frequency electromagnetic fields, biological effects and health consequences (100 kHz-300 GHz)

Review of evidence concerning exposure with the aim of providing input to the respective health risk assessment being conducted by WHO. Together with a similar review into the static and low frequency fields published by ICNIRP in 2003, these form the basis for a thorough re-evaluation of ICNIRP's science-based guidance on limiting exposure.

Dec 2004 Epidemiology of health effects of radiofrequency exposure
Dec 2001

ICNIRP SCI Review
Epidemiology of health effects of radiofrequency exposure

A comprehensive review of epidemiologic studies about the effects of radio frequency (RF) fields on human health in order to summarise the current state of knowledge, explain the methodologic issues that are involved and aid in the planning of future studies.

Apr 1998

ICNIRP guidelines for limiting exposure to time-varying electric, magnetic, and electromagnetic fields (up to 300 GHz)

The main objective of this publication is to establish guidelines for limiting electromagnetic fields exposure in order to provide protection against known adverse health effects. 

Scientific Committee on Health, Environmental and Emerging Risks (SCHEER)

SCHEER was formed in 2016 in response to a request from the European Commission to provide opinions on questions concerning health, environmental and emerging risks. It replaces the European Commission’s Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR), set up in 2004.

Jan 2015

Opinion on potential health effects of exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMF)

Updates to previous reports from the SCENIHR, known as Opinions (19 January 2009 and 6 July 2009), giving consideration to areas where important knowledge gaps were identified. Discusses biophysical interaction mechanisms and the potential role of co-exposures to environmental stressors.

Jan 2009

Health Effects of Exposure to EMF

The purpose of this Opinion is to update the SCENIHR Opinion of 21 March 2007 in the light of newly available information, and to provide a methodological framework and corresponding guidelines to evaluate available scientific evidence in order to ensure the best possible quality for risk assessment.

Mar 2007

Possible effects of Electromagnetic Fields (EMF) on Human Health

Provides the SCENIHR’s update of their 2001 report, Opinion of the Scientific Committee on Toxicity, Ecotoxicity and the Environment on ‘Possible effects of Electromagnetic Fields (EMF), Radio Frequency Fields (RF) and Microwave Radiation on human health’.

European Health Risk Assessment Network on Electromagnetic Fields Exposure (EFHRAN)

EFHRAN is a European Commission-funded project that seeks to establish a network for performing health risk assessments of electromagnetic field exposure.

Oct 2012

Risk analysis of human exposure to electromagnetic fields (revised)

Considers and reviews the latest published research exploring the possible effects of EMF on humans in order to identify any potential health concerns. 

Jul 2010

Work package 5, D3 – on the analysis of risks associated to exposure to EMF: in vitro and in vivo (animals) studies

Aims to monitor and review recent key research results to identify any EMF health risks. Activities and tasks were essentially to collate and critically review the literature. Both cancer and non-cancer endpoints were considered.

 

National reports

These national research institutions are presented in alphabetical order by country.

 

Australia
Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA)

The Australian Government’s primary authority on radiation protection and nuclear safety, ARPANSA, undertakes research, provides services, and promotes national uniformity and the implementation of international best practice.

May 2002

Radiation Protection Standard
Maximum exposure levels to radiofrequency fields 3 kHz to 300 GHz

Specifically devised to include children, the limits specified are based on the ICNIRP’s 1998 Guidelines.

Canada
Health Canada

Health Canada is the federal department responsible for helping Canadians maintain and improve their health, while respecting individual choices and circumstances. For more than two decades, Health Canada has conducted its own research on the biological effects of EMF.

Jun 2015
Limits of Human Exposure to Radiofrequency Electromagnetic Energy in the Frequency Range from 3 kHz to 300 GHz

These safety codes specify the requirements for the safe use of, or exposure to, radiation emitting devices. This revision replaces the previous version of Safety Code 6 (2009).

Apr 2015
A Review of Safety Code 6 (2013): Health Canada’s Safety Limits for Exposure to Radiofrequency Fields

At the request of Health Canada, the Royal Society of Canada has assembled this expert panel to conduct a review of Safety Code 6, which concerns the potential health risks of radio frequency fields from wireless telecommunication devices.

Feb 2013
Research on Radiofrequency Energy and Health

For more than two decades, Health Canada has conducted its own research on the biological effects of radio frequency (RF) energy.

Apr 2009

Recent advances in research on radiofrequency fields and health: 2004–2007

This report is one of a series of updates to the original report of the Royal Society of Canada (1999) and covers the period 2004–2007. 

Jun 2007
Recent advances in research on radiofrequency fields and health 2001–2003

This report is one of a series of updates to the original report of the Royal Society of Canada (1999) and covers the period 2001–2003.

Feb 2001
A Review of the Potential Health Risks of Radiofrequency Fields from Wireless Telecommunication Devices

Review by the Royal Society of Canada expert panel on radio frequency (RF) fields into the potential biological and health effects from RF fields, in order to review the adequacy of Canada’s Safety Code 6, which lays out guidelines for safe exposure limits. 

Feb 2001
Recent advances in research on radiofrequency fields and health

This article provides a summary of scientific research on the potential health effects of radiofrequency fields that has been reported since the original Royal Society report was published in 1999.

Finland
Health Risk Assessment of Mobile Communications (HERMO)

Part of Finland’s national research programme carried out between 1994 and 2007. The planning for these reports was based on the research needs listed in the WHO research agenda and review of literature.

Dec 2007

Final Report (2004–2007)

Outlines the results of research projects in support of the HERMO programmes.

France
French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety (ANSES) 

ANSES was created on 1 July 2010. It is an administrative public establishment accountable to the French Ministries of Health, Agriculture, the Environment, Labour and Consumer Affairs. ANSES has carried out several expert appraisals in the area of the health effects of EMF. It published opinions and collective expert appraisal reports in 2003 and 2005 on mobile telecommunications and in 2009 on all technologies using radio frequencies.

Feb 2005

Téléphonie mobile et santé (2004–2005 edition)

This is the second ANSES report on mobile telephone technology. It evaluates the health risk consequences that could be drawn from a Dutch study (TNO Institute) on the relay antennas of universal mobile telephone systems (UMTS) (3G). It also takes into account the new technologies developed since the first review.

Ireland
Irish Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources

Irish Department of Communications, Marine and Natural Resources – a government department which supports policy and develops legislation in the areas of the internet, fixed networks, convergence, radio spectrum, broadcast networks, satellite, mobile and contract management.

Mar 2007

Health effects of electromagnetic fields

This report provides the conclusions from the review of the scientific literature, addresses key topic of concern, and makes recommendations.

The Netherlands
Health Council of the Netherlands (HCN)

HCN, established in 1902, is an independent scientific advisory body with a remit ‘to advise the government and parliament on the current level of knowledge with respect to public health issues and health (services) research’. The task of the HCN Committee on Electromagnetic Fields is to closely follow scientific developments, periodically report on these developments and reply to requests for advice.

Jun 2013

Mobile phones and cancer
Part 1: Epidemiology of tumours in the head

An advisory report by HCN’s Electromagnetic Fields committee investigating whether there are indications for a causal relationship between exposure to radiofrequency fields from mobile phones and tumours in the brain and various other tissues in the head (e.g. meninges, acoustic nerve, parotid glands).

Oct 2011

Influence of radiofrequency telecommunication signals on children’s brains

An advisory report by HCN’s Electromagnetic Fields committee, examining the effects of exposure to radiofrequency EMF on the development and function of the brains of children aged 0 to 16 years. Also answers the question of whether there is reason to use different exposure limits for children than for adults.

Mar 2009 Electromagnetic Fields: Annual Update 2001 – 2009

Update from HCN’s Electromagnetic Fields committee. Gives a brief overview of the advisory reports published in the period under review, elaborates on the approach and methods and discusses the relationships between EMF, brain activity and health symptoms. Updates from 2001, 2003, 2005, 2006 and 2009.

Jan 2004

Mobile phones and children: Is precaution warranted?

This study considers whether developmental arguments might be found for recommending that children limit their use of mobile phones. It concludes that no major changes in head development occur after the second year of life that might point at a difference in electromagnetic susceptibility between children and adults.

Jan 2002

Mobile telephones: An evaluation of health effects

This advisory report provides, on the basis of the scientific literature, an overview of various aspects that may play a role.

Jun 2000

GSM Base Stations

This advisory report discusses the construction of a base station and the electromagnetic fields in its vicinity. The field strengths are compared to the exposure limits proposed by the Health Council’s Electromagnetic Fields committee, which are based on a survey of the scientific literature.

New Zealand
University of Auckland

The University of Auckland is New Zealand’s largest and highest ranked research organisation.

May 2015

Trends in incidence of primary brain cancer in New Zealand, 1995 to 2010

Case-control studies have linked mobile phone use to an increased risk of glioma in the most exposed brain areas, although inconsistently. This study by scientists at the University of Auckland (Stella J-H Kim, Sally J Ioannides and J Mark Elwood) examined time trends in incidence rates and was published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health.

Sweden
Swedish Radiation Safety Authority

In 2002, the Swedish Radiation Protection Authority, SSI (Statens strålskyddsinstitut), appointed an international independent expert group into electromagnetic fields (EMF) and health. The Swedish Government reorganised their radiation protection work under the newly formed Swedish Radiation Safety Authority (SSM). 

May 2016

Recent Research on EMF and Health Risk
Eleventh report from SSM’s Scientific Council on Electromagnetic Fields, 2016

This covers the previous year’s research on EMF, gives an overview and provides an important basis for risk assessment. It describes the different areas of EMF (static, low frequency intermediate, and radio frequent fields) and includes different types of studies conducted, including biological, human and epidemiological.

Mar 2015

Recent Research on EMF and Health Risk
Tenth report from SSM’s Scientific Council on Electromagnetic Fields, 2015

This covers the previous year’s research on EMF, gives an overview and provides an important basis for risk assessment. It describes the different areas of EMF (static, low frequency intermediate, and radio frequent fields) and includes different types of studies conducted, including biological, human and epidemiological.

May 2014

Recent Research on EMF and Health Risk
Ninth report from SSM’s Scientific Council on Electromagnetic fields, 2014

This covers the previous year’s research on EMF, gives an overview and provides an important basis for risk assessment. It includes the different areas of EMF (static, low frequency intermediate, and radio frequent fields) and different types of studies conducted  including biological, human and epidemiological.

May 2013

Recent Research on EMF and Health Risk
Eighth report from SSM’s Scientific Council on Electromagnetic Fields

This covers both the 2011 and 2012 research on EMF, gives an overview and provides an important basis for risk assessment. It also includes the different areas of EMF (static, low frequency intermediate, and radio frequent fields) and different types of studies conducted including biological, human and epidemiological. 

Dec 2010

Recent Research on EMF and Health Risk
Seventh annual report from SSM’s Independent Expert Group on Electromagnetic Fields, 2010

This report concerns a study conducted for the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority, SSM. 

Dec 2009

Recent Research on EMF and Health Risks
Sixth annual report from SSM’s independent Expert Group on Electromagnetic Fields 2009

This report concerns a study conducted for the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority, SSM. 

Dec 2003 – Mar 2008
Research from SSI’s independent Expert Group on Electromagnetic Fields are published annually.
Sept 2002

Epidemiologic Studies of Cellular Telephones and Cancer Risk – A Review, Swedish Radiation Protection Authority (SSI), No. 16, September 2002

This review examines the epidemiologic studies that have been conducted on cancer risk among cellular telephone users, with emphasis on strengths, weaknesses and conclusions that can be drawn.

UK
Advisory Group on Non-Ionising Radiation (AGNIR)

AGNIR is an independent advisory body reporting to Public Health England. AGNIR reports are referred to by the UK Government and the devolved administrations of Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales and have been used in developing exposure guidelines. 

Apr 2012

Health Effects from Radiofrequency Electromagnetic Fields

Addresses the scientific research related to the potential health effects from exposure to radiofrequency fields, concentrating on new evidence since 2003.

Mobile Telecommunications and Health Research Programme (MTHR)

Set up in 2001 in the UK in response to the Stewart Report recommendations and funded by government and the telecoms industry. To ensure research independence, scientific management was entrusted to an independent committee, made up of experts, mostly senior university academics. The final report was published in 2013.

Sept 2007

MTHR Report 2007

Outlines the results of the MTHR six-year research programme, which included ‘the largest and most robust studies of electrical hypersensitivity undertaken anywhere in the world’.

National Radiological Protection Board (NRPB)

This government body became part of the Health Protection Agency in 2005 and part of Public Health England in 2013. A number of NRPB publications continue to be relevant and are made available through the National Archives website.

Jan 2005

Mobile Phones and Health 2004

Provides further advice to address remaining public concerns about mobile phone technology as well as related technological developments. It also reviews progress on implementing the recommendations in the Stewart Report (May 2000).

Dec 2004

Review of the Scientific Evidence for Limiting Exposure to Electromagnetic Fields (0–300 GHz)

Reviews the scientific evidence relating to possible adverse health effects, provides the basis of NRPB advice on quantitative restrictions on exposure and other measures to avoid adverse effects, and explores recent evidence on the possibility of variations in sensitivity between different groups in the population.

Feb 2001

Documents of the NRPB: Volume 14, No. 2 - Health Effects from Radiofrequency Electromagnetic Fields: Report of an independent Advisory Group on Non-ionising Radiation

Independent Expert Group on Mobile Phones (IEGMP)

Set up in 1999 at the behest of the UK Government with a remit to consider present concerns about possible health effects, to conduct a rigorous assessment of existing research and to give advice based on the present state of knowledge. The Group’s report was published in May 2000.

May 2000

Mobile Phones and Health

Considers the underlying technology and the characteristics of radio frequency fields generated by present and near-future (three to five years) handsets and base stations, with particular reference to magnitude. It provides an appraisal of the body of experimental and theoretical research that has a bearing on human health and makes a number of recommendations to the UK Government.