Epidemiological Study (cross-sectional study)
Prevalence of self-reported hypersensitivity to electric or magnetic fields in a population-based questionnaire survey. epidemiol. By: Hillert L, Berglind N, Arnetz BB, Bellander T
Published in: Scand J Work Environ Health 2002; 28 (1): 33 - 41 ( PubMed Entry , Journal web site )
Aim of study (according to author)
A cross-sectional study was conducted in Sweden to estimate the prevalence of self-reported hypersensitivity to electric and magnetic fields. Furthermore, the association of such hypersensitivity with demographic characteristics, other complaints and types of self-reported hypersensitivity (including traditional allergies) should be investigated.
Endpoint/type of risk estimation
Estimate of prevalence
- hypersensitivity: hypersensitivity to electric or magnetic fields (facial skin problems, eye irritation, runny or stuffy nose, impaired sense of smell, hoarse or dry throat, coughing, sense of pressure in the ear, fatigue, sense of heaviness in head, headache, nausea or dizziness, difficulties to concentrate)
- electric field, magnetic field, 50/60 Hz (AC), personal exposure, non-EMF exposure
- type of exposure: personal
- assessment by list (information on age, gender, income and country of birth obtained from the national population register)
- assessment by questionnaire (hypersensitivity to electric or magnetic fields )
Study group: men and women, aged from 19 to 80 years
Group characteristics: randomly selected adults from 17 different geographic regions
Observation period: 1997
Study location: Sweden (Stockholm County)
Source of data: Statistics Sweden
Further parameters acquired by questionnaire (education, marital status, allergy, hypersensitivity to furry animals, pollen, dust, mold, mite, food, gluten, amalgam, other dental fillings, nickel, cosmetics; health complaints and symptoms, reported disturbances due to environmental factors)
|Study size || |
|number total ||15,000|
|number participating ||10,670|
|rate of participating ||73%|
|number of complete follow-up/|
available for analysis
Statistical analysis using Chi-square test
Results/conclusion (according to author)
Of all respondents, 1.5 % (167 persons) reported hypersensitivity to electric or magnetic fields. The prevalence was highest among women and in the 60- to 69-year age group. The hypersensitive group reported all symptoms, allergies, and other types of hypersensitivities included in the survey to a significantly greater extent than the rest of the respondents. No specific symptom profile was identified for the hypersensitive group compared to the rest of the respondents.
The authors conclude that there is widespread concern among the general population about risks to health posed by electric and magnetic fields.
Limitations (according to author): The authors noted that the results should be interpreted with caution.
(Study character: epidemiological study, cross-sectional study)
Study funded byRelated articles
Glossary: 50/60 Hz, AC, adults, allergies, amalgam, animals, chi-square test, cross-sectional study, dizziness, ear, electric, electric field, EMF, epidemiological, exposure, eye, fatigue, follow-up, headache, health, health complaints, hypersensitive, magnetic fields, nausea, population, prevalence, questionnaire, randomly, risks, significantly, skin, statistical, survey, symptom
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