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Theme 3: Project 2 - Electromagnetic fields

We will start the SCAMP study involving a group of ~2,500 secondary school children to investigate whether children’s use of mobile phones and/or other technologies that use radio waves e.g. wireless internet, might affect their neurocognitive or behavioural development e.g. attention and memory. The study will set-up a cohort of year 7 children (ages 11-12 years) from ~25 schools across Greater London, with follow-up in year 9 (ages 13-14 years).

Children will undertake a computerised assessment conducted at their school, including cognitive tasks assessing how fast and accurately they can solve problems and recall images.

The assessment will also include detailed questions on behavioural problems e.g. hyperactivity, and use of mobile phones and other radio frequency technologies.

At home, parents and children will give online consent/assent respectively for their participation and each will complete a questionnaire on lifestyle, home environment and medical history. Information on phone usage will also be obtained via mobile phone companies and from smartphone apps.

The accurate assessment of electromagnetic field exposures is critical to the design of sound epidemiological investigations of the potential health impact of exposures. As an enhancement to a planned RF-EMF exposure validation study in a sub-set (5-10%) of SCAMP children, we will also collect personal exposure measurements on adults using a parent-child pair’s design and obtain multi-time point urine sampling over a 48-hour study period (for subsequent metabonomic profiling).

Data collected in the validation study will subsequently be used to validate and calibrate models estimating cumulative and integrated RF-EMF exposure metrics to better reflect ‘real-life’ exposure scenarios for epidemiological investigation in both the UK COSMOS (adult) and SCAMP (child) cohort studies.PHE has extensive experience of EMF exposure assessment and this expertise will be used to evaluate available personal exposure monitors through extensive lab based testing.

PHE will also conduct exposure assessments in a limited number of the school and home environments of SCAMP cohort participants. We will provide baseline analysis of data collected as part of the AIRWAVE study of the use of the TETRA radio system among the police forces nationally.

Lead researchers

Dr Mireille Toledano

Theme 3 Deputy Leader

Imperial College London

Dr Simon Bouffler

Theme 3 Leader: Health impact of low dose non-ionising and ionising radiation

Public Health England