The effects of radiofrequency electromagnetic fields exposure on human self-reported symptoms: A protocol for a systematic review of human experimental studies

Environ Int. 2021 Nov 1;158:106953. doi: 10.1016/j.envint.2021.106953. Online ahead of print.


BACKGROUND: The technological applications of radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (RF-EMF) have been steadily increasing since the 1950s across multiple sectors exposing large proportions of the population. This fact has raised concerns related to the potential consequences to people’s health. The World Health Organization (WHO) is assessing the potential health effects of exposure to RF-EMF and has carried out an international survey amongst experts, who have identified six priority topics to be further addressed through systematic reviews, whereof the effects on symptoms is one of them. We report here the systematic review protocol of experimental studies in humans assessing the effects of RF-EMF on symptoms.

OBJECTIVE: Our objectives are to assess the effects of exposure to electromagnetic fields (compared to no or lower exposure levels) on symptoms in human subjects. We will also assess the accuracy of perception of presence of exposure in volunteers with and without idiopathic environmental intolerance attributed to electromagnetic fields (IEI-EMF).

ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA: We will search relevant literature sources (e.g. the Web of Science, Medline, Embase, Epistemonikos) for randomized trials (comparing at least two arms) and randomised crossover trials of RF-EMF exposure that have assessed the effects on symptoms. We will also include studies that have measured the accuracy of the perception of the presence or absence of exposure. We will include studies in any language.

STUDY APPRAISAL AND SYNTHESIS: Studies will be assessed against inclusion criteria by two independent reviewers. Data on study characteristics, participants, exposure, comparators and effects will be extracted using a specific template for this review, by two independent reviewers. Discrepancies will be solved by consensus. Risk of bias (ROB) will be assessed using the ROB Rating Tool for Human and Animal Studies and the level of confidence in the evidence of the exposure-outcome relations will be assessed using the GRADE approach. For the perception studies, we will use adapted versions of the ROB tool and GRADE assessment. Where appropriate, data will be combined using meta-analytical techniques.

PMID:34735955 | DOI:10.1016/j.envint.2021.106953

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