Electromagnetic fields (EMF)

2003 WHO research agenda for radio frequency fields

Human studies

Overarching issues:

  • Special consideration should be given, in designing human laboratory studies of RF exposure, to establish protocols that avoid design flaws that may have affected published studies (e.g., the potential impact of uncontrolled RF exposure prior to the actual experiment, the possibility that effects may be delayed substantially beyond the exposure period, inadequate exposure of functional subregions such as hippocampus).
  • Experimental design for human laboratory studies should consider testing parameters such as volunteer age (i.e. children versus adults) and the temporal pattern of exposure.


  • Studies on the effect of RF exposures on reaction times and on memory performance.

Short-term or urgent needs:

  • Replication and extension of the studies which demonstrated effects on sleep.
  • Studies of RF exposure and headaches in a controlled laboratory setting.
  • Studies of memory performance should be expanded to include children.

Long-term or future needs:

  • The effects of exposure to RF on cognitive performance through whole-body heating or localised heating in the head should be investigated using well defined methodologies. These studies might be usefully supplemented by experiments using animals.