Mobile phone, wi-fi health risks studied at UOW

ENERGY IMPACT: Professor Rodney Croft will lead the five-year study including the effect of mobile phones.
ENERGY IMPACT: Professor Rodney Croft will lead the five-year study including the effect of mobile phones.

The question of whether mobile phone and wi-fi radiation is safe is not settled, a new University of Wollongong-led research centre project shows.

The Australian Centre for Electromagnetic Bioeffects Research (ACEBR)  has been awarded a $2,499,671 grant over five years to continue its investigation into possible health risks of exposure to radiofrequency (RF) electromagnetic energy.

This electromagnetic energy can come from ubiquitous household devices such as mobile phones, radio and the wireless internet transmission system wi-fi. 

The next five years of study will look into effects of RF energy on humans including potential psychological impacts, hypersensitivity, and early childhood brain development.

Centre Director Professor Rodney Croft from UOW’s School of Psychology and the Illawarra Health and Medical Research Institute, said the National Health and Medical Research Council funding would further the centre’s research.

“Our research will have a particular emphasis on RF from new and emerging technologies, such as the 5th Generation mobile communication protocol that is due to be implemented in 2020,” Professor Croft said.

“The research will address issues ranging from the potential for RF to impact on early neurodevelopment, neurodegenerative disorders, cellular processes, as well as on the relative physiological sensitivity of those reporting sensitivity to chronic RF exposure.

“It will also look at better understanding of RF exposure to and within individuals and the community more generally; the exploration of psychosocial triggers to electrohypersensitivity; and the understanding and improvement of strategies for the communication of RF risk information.”

RF-enabled communication devices, including smart phones, have brought substantial benefits and changes to society, particularly over the past decade.

But their everyday use has also raised concerns that the levels of RF exposure we endure may bring with it an unknown but pervasive health risk.