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Effects on auditory function of chronic exposure to electromagnetic fields from mobile phones

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August 21, 2016
by Sanjeev Bhagat, MS(ENT); Saurabh Varshney, MS(ENT); Sampan Singh Bist, MS(ENT); Deepak Goel, DM(Neurology); Sarita Mishra, MS(ENT); Vivek Kumar Jha, MSLAP

Abstract

The widespread use of mobile phones has given rise to apprehension regarding the possible hazardous health effects of high-frequency electromagnetic fields (EMFs) on auditory function. We conducted a study to investigate the effects of long-term (>4 yr) exposure to EMFs emitted by mobile phones on auditory function. Our study population was made up of 40 healthy medical students-31 men and 9 women, aged 20 to 30 years (mean 22.7). Of this group, 31 subjects typically held their phone to the right ear and 9 to the left ear; the non-phone-using ear served as each subject's control ear. The phone-using subjects were also split into two groups of 20 based on the duration of their daily phone use (≤60 min vs. >60 min). All subjects underwent pure-tone audiometry, speech audiometry, impedance audiometry, and brainstem evoked response audiometry (BERA), and comparisons were made between the phone-using ear and the control ear and between the shorter and longer duration of daily use. We found no statistically significant differences in high-frequency pure-tone average between the phone-using ears and the control ears (p = 0.69) or between the shorter- and longer-duration phone-using ears (p = 0.85). Moreover, statistical analysis of BERA findings revealed no significant differences between the phone-using ears and the control ears in terms of wave I-III, III-V, and I-V interpeak latencies (p = 0.59, 0.74 and 0.44, respectively). None of the subjects reported any subjective symptoms, such as headache, tinnitus, or sensations of burning or warmth behind, around, or on the phone-using ear. We conclude that the long-term exposure to EMFs from mobile phones does not affect auditory function.

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