About EMF:data

Research database for studies and documentations on the effects of electromagnetic fields from wireless communication technologies (nonionizing radiation)

The EMF:data database provides an overview of the current state of research on nonionizing radiation emitted from cell phones, smartphones, tablets, Wi-Fi routers, DECT cordless phones, and other mobile applications. As an environmental and consumer protection organization, diagnose:funk is dedicated to assessing the current state of research on nonionizing radiation — independent and in cooperation with scientists and experts — and informing the general public and policy-makers about the latest findings. The database is an essential tool for increasing awareness among the public and policy-makers because — despite available studies about the risks of wireless radiation — findings are played down and the public is not provided with adequate protection.

The maintenance of the independent study database as well as the assessments and translations of studies, documentations, and information are funded by donations. For the ongoing maintenance, diagnose:funk therefore relies on the support of the public.

Selection of studies

The studies included in EMF:data deal with health risks of nonionizing radiation from wireless communication technologies. The assessment shows that current exposure limits do not protect the public. The commonly made claim that there would be no relevant biological effects below the current exposure limits must be considered proven false.

Selection criteria

  • Studies investigating effects that are relevant to human health or the environment
  • Studies with exposure levels below exposure limits
  • Studies investigating frequencies from 30 kHz to 300 GHz 
  • Studies meeting a high scientific standard
  • Studies published in peer-reviewed journals
  • Studies subject to controversy

General research overview

As early as in the 1930s, first studies on radio-frequency radiation were published that observed effects relevant to human health. Shortly after World War II, studies began to focus on the radiation from radar equipment. The striking frequency of cataracts in radar technicians initiated the research efforts. Already at the beginning of the 1980s, on average about five studies on biological effects of radio-frequency radiation were published per month. Some of those studies, however, used field strengths that frequently resulted in the heating of tissues and thus documented a so-called thermal effect. The thermal dogma — which only recognizes thermal effects as promoted by the military-industrial complex, but not nonthermal effects  — led to the circumstance that one area of research findings has been ignored in Western countries. This is also the cause of the very different exposure limits and safety guidelines in contrast to those in former Eastern Bloc countries in which nonthermal effects had been researched. 

The health effects of radio-frequency radiation are anything but “not researched.” When considering the studies carried out by researchers independent of industry ties, a clear picture emerges: Radio-frequency radiation from wireless communication applications can cause considerable damage in biological systems, and studies demonstrate more and more often that such effects already occur at levels far below current exposure limits. 

Be cautious in dealing with abstracts

It should be noted that the abstract, the summary of the findings of a study, can also be authored by the commissioning party of a study and as a result, important details can often be left out or misrepresented. In some abstracts, the main findings are even denied (e.g. Altpeter et al. 1995, authored by the Federal Office of Energy).

Connections between EMF research and funding

The two experts Prof. Henry Lai und Dr. Louis Slesin already looked into the trend of how funding affects study outcomes back in 2006. To this end, they compiled 85 studies about the effects of radio-frequency radiation on genes, which had been published in scientific journals over a period of sixteen years. They compared the study findings with the source of funding. Forty-three studies found a “biological” effect; forty-two found no effect.

There is a clear connection between the finding of a study and the source of funding. It was shown that about four out of five studies, which consider electromagnetic radiation to be safe, were funded by the industry. In contrast, just under 7% of those studies funded by industry found a biological effect caused by radiation exposure.

Thereafter, the Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine at the University of Bern also compiled a study investigating whether there is an association between the origin of funding and the outcome of a study. The research team reviewed 50 studies (published from 1995 to 2005) investigating health-related effects of radio-frequency radiation from wireless communication technologies and came to the same conclusion: Studies that were not funded by industry were ten times more likely to find statistically significant results compared to those that had been funded exclusively by industry. According to the coauthor Prof. Matthias Egger, the differences could not be explained by the study design or quality. Rather, they had to be attributed to the different sources of funding. Additional information and details can be found in diagnose:funk Brennpunkt.