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Journal Reading

Effects on auditory function of chronic


exposure to electromagnetic fields from
mobile phones

Oleh:
Ahmad Marzuki Rifki Hanafi

I4A011001

Dina Aulia Fakhrina

I4A011004

Nadia Bunga Kalistra

I4A011028

Pembimbing
dr. Alex, Sp. THT

BAGIAN/SMF TELINGA, HIDUNG, TENGGOROKAN


FAKULTAS KEDOKTERAN UNIVERSITAS LAMBUNG
MANGKURAT-RSUD ULIN BANJARMASIN

September, 2016

Efek pada fungsi auditorik akibat paparan kronis medan


elektromagnetik dari ponsel
Oleh Sanjeev Bhagat, MS(ENT); Saurabh Varshney, MS(ENT); Sampan
Singh Bist, MS(ENT); Deepak Goel, DM(Neurology); Sarita Mishra,
MS(ENT); Vivek Kumar Jha, MSLAP

ABSTRAK
Meluasnya penggunaan ponsel telah memunculkan ketakutan
mengenai kemungkinan efek kesehatan berbahaya dari medan
elektromagnetik frekuensi tinggi/electromagnetic field (EMF)
pada fungsi pendengaran. Kami melakukan penelitian untuk
menyelidiki efek jangka panjang (> 4 tahun) paparan EMF yang
dipancarkan oleh ponsel pada fungsi pendengaran. Populasi
penelitian kami terdiri dari 40 siswa kedokteran-31 pria dan 9
wanita, berusia 20 sampai 30 tahun (rata-rata 22,7). Dari
kelompok ini, 31 subjek biasanya memegang telepon mereka ke
telinga

kanan

menggunakan

dan

ponsel

ke

telinga

diperlakukan

kiri;

telinga

sebagai

yang

telinga

tidak
kontrol

masing-masing subjek. Subjek pengguna ponsel juga dibagi


menjadi dua kelompok dari 20 berdasarkan durasi mereka
menggunakan telepon sehari-hari (60 menit vs > 60 menit).
Semua orang menjalani audiometri nada murni, audiometri
bicara, audiometri impedansi, dan brainstem evoked response
audiometry

(BERA), dan perbandingan dibuat antara telinga

yang menggunakan telepon dan telinga kontrol serta antara

durasi yang lebih singkat dan lebih lama dari penggunaan seharihari. Kami tidak menemukan perbedaan yang signifikan secara
statistik dalam rata-rata nada murni frekuensi tinggi antara
telinga yang menggunakan ponsel dan telinga kontrol (p = 0.69)
atau antara durasi pendek dan panjang (p = 0,85). Selain itu,
analisis statistik dari temuan BERA menunjukkan tidak ada
perbedaan yang signifikan antara telinga yang menggunakan
ponsel dan telinga kontrol dalam hal gelombang interpeak
latency I-III, III-V, dan I-V (p = 0,59, 0,74 dan 0,44, masingmasing). Tak satu pun dari subjek melaporkan gejala subjektif,
seperti sakit kepala, tinnitus, atau sensasi terbakar ataupun
kehangatan di belakang, sekitar, atau di dalam telinga yang
menggunakan ponsel. Kami menyimpulkan bahwa paparan
jangka panjang EMF dari ponsel tidak mempengaruhi fungsi
pendengaran.
PENDAHULUAN
Dalam beberapa tahun terakhir, penggunaan ponsel telah
meningkat pesat, dan ada lebih dari 1,6 miliar pengguna
diseluruh

dunia.1

Meluasnya

penggunaan

ponsel

telah

melahirkan spekulasi mengenai kemungkinan efek kesehatan


yang

berbahaya

dari

medan

elektromagnetik

frekuensi

tinggi/electromagnetic field (EMF).


Ponsel mengirim dan menerima radiasi gelombang kecil pada
frekuensi terutama antara 800 dan 2.000 MHz. 2 Frekuensi ini
membangkitkan rotasi air dan beberapa molekul organik, namun
mereka tidak berion,3 dan mereka tidak diyakini menyebabkan
kerusakan DNA. Namun, radiasi EMF telah dikaitkan dengan efek
termal dan nontermal pada manusia.4

Efek termal dari ponsel yang dilaporkan termasuk sakit kepala,


sensasi terbakar dan kehangatan di daerah telinga, sensasi
terbakar pada kulit wajah, dan gangguan dalam sawar darahotak.4-6

Efek

nontermal

termasuk

modifikasi

pola

tidur,

meningkatkan tekanan darah, dan perubahan dalam fungsi


kognitif.7-9 Gagasan bahwa EMF memiliki efek karsinogenik
adalah kontroversial.10,11
Hanya beberapa studi yang telah dilakukan untuk menilai efek
dari paparan jangka panjang untuk gelombang elektromagnetik
dari ponsel pada pendengaran manusia.12-15 Pada artikel ini, kita
menggambarkan penyelidikan kami pada fungsi pendengaran
dan paparan jangka panjang EMF dari ponsel.
PASIEN DAN METODE
Populasi penelitian kami diambil dari sekelompok mahasiswa
kedokteran yang reguler menggunakan ponsel minimal 4 tahun.
Semua calon partisipan memberikan riwayat rinci, dengan
penekanan

khusus

pada

durasi

penggunaan

ponsel,

sisi

penggunaan yang lebih disukai (telinga yang menggunakan


ponsel), ada atau tidak adanya sensasi hangat di daerah telinga,
dan riwayat sakit kepala, gangguan pendengaran, tinnitus,
vertigo, serta kepenuhan aural.
Kami tidak menyertakan mahasiswa dengan riwayat discharge
telinga, gangguan pendengaran, operasi telinga, penggunaan
obat ototoksik, paparan kebisingan yang lama, atau penyakit
sistemik yang akan mempengaruhi pendengaran. Kami juga
mengeksklusi subjek yang menggunakan ponsel mereka dengan

kedua telinga. Pemeriksaan otoskopik telah dilakukan oleh


otolaringologis untuk menyingkirkan patologi telinga luar dan
tengah.
Sebanyak 40 subyek-31 pria dan 9 wanita, berusia 20 sampai 30
tahun (rata-rata 22,7) -yang memenuhi kriteria kelayakan kami
pilih untuk dimasukkan dalam penelitian. Dari kelompok ini, 31
subjek biasanya memegang telepon mereka ke telinga kanan
dan 9 ke telinga kiri; telinga yang tidak menggunakan ponsel
diperlakukan sebagai telinga kontrol masing-masing subjek.
Subjek juga dibagi menjadi dua kelompok masing-masing 20
berdasarkan durasi mereka menggunakan telepon sehari-hari
(60 menit vs > 60 menit).
Audiometri nada murni, audiometri bicara, audiometri impedansi,
dan brainstem evoked response audiometry

(BERA) dilakukan

pada semua subjek. Pengukuran audiometri termasuk frekuensi


0,25-16 kHz, dan temuan pada telinga yang menggunakan
ponsel dibandingkan dengan mereka pada telinga kontrol;
perbandingan juga dilakukan pada telinga yang menggunakan
ponsel dari kelompok durasi yang lebih pendek (60 min)
dengan

kelompok

pengukuran

BERA,

durasi

panjang

perbandingan

(>

yang

60
sama

menit).
dibuat

Untuk
pada

gelombang latency interpeak I-III, III-V, dan I-V.


Analisis statistik. Uji chi-square digunakan untuk perbandingan
pengamatan

antara

kedua

kelompok,

dan

uji

Student

diaplikasikan untuk perbandingan data variabel.


Pertimbangan

etis.

Persetujuan

untuk

protokol

penelitian

diberikan oleh Komite Etik lembaga kami.

HASIL
Audiometri nada murni mengungkapkan bahwa tidak ada pasien
yang mengalami kehilangan pendengarandidefinisikan sebagai
pure-tone average (PTA) > 25 dB pada 0, 5, 1, 2, dan 3 kHzdi
kedua telinga. Ketika PTA frekuensi tinggi didefinisikan sebagai
rata-rata dari 4, 8, 12, dan 16 kHzdibandingkan, pendengaran
normal ditemukan pada 5 dari 40 telinga yang menggunakan
ponsel (12,5%) dan pada 3 dari 40 telinga kontrol (7,5%),
perbedaan yang tidak signifikan (tabel 1).
Tabel 1. Perbandingan temuan rata-rata nada murni pada
telinga yang menggunakan ponsel (n = 40) dan telinga
kontrol (n = 40)
n (%)

HFPTA*

Telinga yang

Telinga

Total

menggunakan

kontrol (n =

(N =

ponsel (n = 40)

40)

80)

35 (87,5)

37 (92,5)

Nilai
p

* Rata-rata nada murni


frekuensi tinggi dari 4, 8,
12, dan 16 kHz
25 dB (pendengaran
normal)

72
(90,0)
0,69

>25 dB (kehilangan
pendengaran)

5 (12,5)

3 (7,5)

8
(10,0)

Demikian pula, tidak ada perbedaan yang signifikan dalam PTA


frekuensi tinggi yang terlihat sesuai dengan durasi penggunaan
telepon (tabel 2).
Tabel 2. Perbandingan parameter-parameter audiometri
berdasarkan durasi penggunaan telepon (60 menit / hari
[n = 20] vs > 60 menit / hari [n = 20]) pada telinga yang
menggunakan telepon

Parameter

Rata-rata Nilai
SD

* Rata-rata nada murni frekuensi tinggi dari 4, 8,


12, dan 16 kHz
HFPTA*
60 menit

>60 menit

0,85
15,06
5,91
14,62
8,59

I-III Latency

0,25

60 menit

2,13 0,17

>60 menit

2,06 0,20

III-V Latency

0,33

60 menit

1,94 0,21

>60 menit

2,05 0,43

I-V Latency

0,41

60 menit

4,07 0,28

>60 menit

3,99 0,30

Analisis statistik data BERA tidak menemukan perbedaan yang


signifikan secara statistik dalam gelombang latency interpeak IIII, gelombang III-V, dan gelombang I-V antara telinga yang
menggunakan ponsel dan telinga kontrol (tabel 3). Selain itu,
tidak ada perbedaan dalam latensi-latensi ini yang sesuai dengan
lamanya penggunaan (tabel 2).
Tabel 3. Perbandingan parameter-parameter audiometri
pada telinga yang menggunakan ponsel (n = 40) dan
telinga kontrol (n = 40)

Parameter

Rata-rata Nilai
SD

* Rata-rata nada murni frekuensi tinggi dari 4, 8,


12, dan 16 kHz.
HFPTA*
Telinga yang menggunakan ponsel

Kontrol

0,69
14,83
7,28
14,93
7,48

Latensi I-III

0,59

Telinga yang menggunakan ponsel

2,09 0,19

Kontrol

2,07 0,18

Latensi III-V

0,74

Telinga yang menggunakan ponsel

1,99 0,34

Kontrol

1,97 0,19

Rata-rata Nilai

Parameter

SD

Latensi I-V

0,44

Telinga yang menggunakan ponsel

4,03 0,29

Kontrol

3,98 0,27

Sehingga, tidak ada pasien yang melaporkan adanya sensasi


terbakar atau kehangatan di belakang, sekitar, ataupun di
telinga, dan tidak ada yang mengeluh sakit kepala, rasa penuh,
ataupun tinnitus.

DISKUSI
Telah ada minat yang besar baru-baru ini pada efek biologis yang
mungkin dari paparan EMF yang dipancarkan dari ponsel.
Meskipun EMF dapat memberi efek termal melalui pemanasan,
ponsel

beroperasi

pada

tingkat

daya

yang

pemanasan

berlebihannya tidak terjadi. Kebanyakan penelitian sekarang


telah difokuskan pada apakah ada efek samping nontermal
biologis yang buruk dari paparan jangka panjang dan sering oleh
EMF.
EMF rendah energi (450 MHz) tampak menyebabkan perubahan
struktural dan fungsional dalam membran sel, yang memicu
respon sel yang abnormal. Frekuensi antara 800 dan 1.800 MHz
dapat menyebabkan efek nontermal pada struktur dan fungsi

sitoplasma, menginduksi perubahan elektrofisiologi pada sel-sel


hidup.16
Derajat paparan internal EMF dari ponsel dapat diukur dengan
jumlah energi yang diserap oleh satuan massa dari objek, yang
dinyatakan

sebagai

tingkat

penyerapan

spesifik/specific

absorption rate (SAR) dalam satuan W/ kg.17 Set standar yang


ditetapkan oleh lembaga nasional dan internasional membatasi
SAR hingga kisaran 1,6-2 W/kg untuk paparan lokal di publik
umum.18
Karena kedekatan ponsel ke kepala saat digunakan, otak dan
sistem pendengaran terkena SAR yang lebih tinggi daripada
bagian tubuh lain. Efek biologis dari EMF tergantung pada
frekuensi dan intensitas radiasi, durasi paparan, dan karakteristik
individu dari sistem saraf dan status kekebalan seseorang yang
diberikan.10,15,19-21 Berbagai penelitian telah membahas efek
jangka pendek akut untuk ponsel terhadap pendengaran.22-24
Namun, data masih kurang dalam hal paparan yang sering dan
jangka

panjang

untuk

EMF

tingkat

rendah

pada

sistem

pendengaran manusia.12-15
Davidson dan Lutman melaporkan tidak ada efek kronis dari
penggunaan ponsel dalam hal pendengaran, tinnitus, dan
keseimbangan

dalam

populasi

siswa

dengan

bantuan

kuesioner.25 Dalam penelitian kami, tidak ada subjek yang


melaporkan gejala

subjektif

berkaitan dengan penggunaan

ponsel, seperti sebagai sensasi panas di sekitar telinga, sakit


kepala, kepenuhan, ataupun tinitus. Temuan kami sejalan dengan
Hietanen et al.26 Namun, penulis lain telah melaporkan berbagai
gejala subjektif, terutama sensasi termal sekitar telinga, di
antara pengguna-pengguna ponsel yang luas.12,13,15,24

Perbandingan kami dari PTA frekuensi tinggi tidak menemukan


perbedaan yang signifikan secara statistik pada ambang batas
pendengaran antara telinga yang menggunakan ponsel dan
telinga kontrol. Temuan ini mendukung pengamatan yang
dilakukan oleh orang lain. Misalnya, Kerekhanjanarong et al
menemukan tidak ada perbedaan yang signifikan dalam ambang
batas pendengaran antara telinga yang dominan dan tidak
dominan.12 Demikian juga, Panda et al menemukan tidak ada
perbedaan yang signifikan dalam gangguan pendengaran pada
frekuensi bicara dan pada frekuensi tinggi antara pengguna
telepon

dan

sebaliknya

kontrol

dilaporkan

di

kedua

oleh

telinga.15

Garca

Namun,

Callejo

et

temuan

al,

yang

menyimpulkan bahwa penggunaan ponsel yang sering lebih dari


3 tahun berkorelasi dengan gangguan pendengaran ringan 1 dan
5 dBHL yang tidak didapati pada bukan pengguna ponsel.27
Kerekhanjanarong et al juga mengamati bahwa pada 8 subjek
yang menggunakan ponsel selama lebih dari 60 menit per hari,
ambang pendengaran telinga dominan lebih buruk daripada
telinga yang tidak dominan; tetapi karena ukuran sampel mereka
begitu kecil, perbedaan itu secara statistik tidak significant. 12
Oktay

dan

Dasdag

juga

menemukan

bahwa

ambang

pendengaran pada mereka yang menggunakan ponsel sekitar 2


jam per hari lebih tinggi dari pada pengguna sedang (10 sampai
20 menit / hari ) dan kontrol (bukan pengguna).13 Panda et al
membandingkan

hasil

audiometri

frekuensi

tinggi

dan

menemukan bahwa mereka yang menggunakan ponsel selama


lebih dari 60 menit per hari memiliki PTA frekuensi tinggi yang
lebih

besar

secara

signifikan

daripada

mereka

yang

menggunakannya kurang lama.15

10

Sebaliknya, kami tidak menemukan perbedaan yang signifikan


dalam PTA frekuensi tinggi antara mereka yang menggunakan
ponsel kurang dari 60 menit per hari dan pengguna yang lebih
sering. Sebuah penjelasan yang mungkin untuk ini adalah ukuran
sampel penelitian kami kecil; faktor lain mungkin usia, kekuatan
sinyal, kedekatan tempat tinggal pengguna atau tempat kerja
dengan stasiun pangkalan atau menara televisi, dan pengaruh
lingkungan lainnya.
Oysu et al mempelajari efek jangka pendek dari paparan EMF
ponsel pada respons auditori batang otak/auditory brainstem
response (ABR) di 18 relawan manusia yang sehat dan tidak
menemukan perubahan dalam absolute latency dan interpeak
latency.28 Arai et al memaparkan 15 sukarelawan sehat dengan
pendengaran normal ke radiasi ponsel selama 30 menit; tidak
ada perubahan yang dicatat dalam gelombang I, III, dan V, di
ABR, dan dalam respons midlatency setelah 30 menit paparan.22
Demikian pula, Bak et al mengevaluasi efek yang diberikan
radiasi

elektromagnetik

penggunaan

ponsel

pada
dan

ABR

mereka

selama

dan

mengamati

setelah

tidak

ada

perbedaan dalam gelombang latensi I, III, dan V atau di


interpeak

latency.29

Namun,

tiga

studi

ini

secara

khusus

ditargetkan untuk paparan akut jangka pendek, sehingga hasil


mereka tidak memberikan informasi mengenai potensi dampak
jangka panjang atau pajanan kumulatif EMF dari ponsel.
Dalam studi mereka tentang kemungkinan efek paparan EMF
ponsel jangka panjang dan sering pada pendengaran orang
dewasa (berdasarkan temuan BERA), Oktay dan Dasdag tidak
menemukan perbedaan dalam gelombang latency I, III, dan V
ataupun di interpeak latency antara bukan pengguna, pengguna
sedang, dan pengguna intensif.13 Hasil yang sama dilaporkan
11

oleh Panda et al, yang menemukan tidak ada perbedaan yang


signifikan dalam gelombang I-III, III-V, dan IV interpeak latency
antara pengguna dan kontrol, serta tidak ada perbedaan dengan
respek terhadap durasi penggunaan ( 60 menit).15
Kami juga tidak menemukan perbedaan yang signifikan secara
statistik dalam gelombang I-III, III-V, dan I-V latency interpeak
antara telinga yang menggunakan ponsel dan telinga kontrol,
dan tidak ada perbedaan dalam hal durasi penggunaan. Satusatunya studi yang kita tahu bertentangan dengan temuan dari
studi BERA lainnya diterbitkan Kellnyi et al, yang melaporkan
penundaan 0,2-ms dalam gelombang V setelah 15 menit paparan
EMF ponsel di 10 subjek pendengaran-normal (usia rata-rata:
29,3 tahun).30
Kesimpulannya, kami tidak menemukan efek buruk pada sistem
pendengaran dari paparan kronis EMF melalui ponsel, yang
diukur dengan perubahan audiometri nada murni dan BERA.
Studi tindak lanjut diperlukan untuk mengevaluasi efek dari
penggunaan

ponsel

jangka

panjang

dan

sering

pada

pendengaran dengan ukuran sampel yang besar sebelum kita


dapat mencapai kesimpulan yang pasti.

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Spanish]. Acta Otorrinolaringol Esp 2005; 56 (5): 187-91.
28. Oysu C, Topak M, Celik O ,et al. Effects of the acute
exposure to the electromagnetic field of mobile phones on
human auditory brainstem responses. Eur Arch
Otorhinolaryngol 2005; 262 (10): 839-43.
29. Bak M, Sliwinska-Kowalska M, Zmyslony M, Dudarewicz A.
No effects of acute exposure to the electromagnetic field
emitted by mobile phones on brainstem auditory potentials
in young volunteers. Int J Occup Med Environ Health 2003;
16 (3): 201-8.
30. Kellnyi L, Thurczy G, Faludy B, Lnrd L. Effects of mobile
GSM radiotelephone exposure on the auditory brainstem
response (ABR). Neurobiology (Bp) 1999; 7 (1): 79-81.

15

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Home > Effects on auditory function of chronic exposure to electromagnetic fields from mobile
phones

Effects on auditory function of


chronic exposure to
electromagnetic fields from
mobile phones
| Reprints
August 21, 2016
by Sanjeev Bhagat, MS(ENT); Saurabh Varshney, MS(ENT); Sampan Singh Bist, MS(ENT);
Deepak Goel, DM(Neurology); Sarita Mishra, MS(ENT); Vivek Kumar Jha, MSLAP

Abstract
The widespread use of mobile phones has given rise to apprehension regarding the possible
hazardous health effects of high-frequency electromagnetic fields (EMFs) on auditory function.
We conducted a study to investigate the effects of long-term (>4 yr) exposure to EMFs emitted
by mobile phones on auditory function. Our study population was made up of 40 healthy
medical students-31 men and 9 women, aged 20 to 30 years (mean 22.7). Of this group, 31
subjects typically held their phone to the right ear and 9 to the left ear; the non-phone-using
ear served as each subject's control ear. The phone-using subjects were also split into two
groups of 20 based on the duration of their daily phone use (60 min vs. >60 min). All subjects
underwent pure-tone audiometry, speech audiometry, impedance audiometry, and brainstem
evoked response audiometry (BERA), and comparisons were made between the phone-using
ear and the control ear and between the shorter and longer duration of daily use. We found no
statistically significant differences in high-frequency pure-tone average between the phoneusing ears and the control ears (p = 0.69) or between the shorter- and longer-duration phoneusing ears (p = 0.85). Moreover, statistical analysis of BERA findings revealed no significant
differences between the phone-using ears and the control ears in terms of wave I-III, III-V, and
I-V interpeak latencies (p = 0.59, 0.74 and 0.44, respectively). None of the subjects reported
any subjective symptoms, such as headache, tinnitus, or sensations of burning or warmth

behind, around, or on the phone-using ear. We conclude that the long-term exposure to EMFs
from mobile phones does not affect auditory function.

Introduction
In recent years, the use of mobile phones has increased tremendously, and there are more
than 1.6 billion users worldwide.1 The widespread use of mobile phones has given rise to
speculation regarding the possible hazardous health effects of high-frequency electromagnetic
fields (EMFs).
Mobile phones transmit and receive microwave radiation at frequencies mainly between 800
and 2,000 MHz.2 These frequencies excite the rotation of water and some organic molecules,
but they are not ionizing,3 and they are not believed to cause damage to DNA. However, EMF
radiation has been attributed to thermal and nonthermal effects on humans.4
The reported thermal effects of mobile phones include headache, a sensation of burning and
warmth in the ear area, a burning sensation on the facial skin, and alterations in the bloodbrain barrier.4-6 Nonthermal effects include modification of sleep patterns, an increase in
blood pressure, and alterations in cognitive functions.7-9 The idea that EMFs have a
carcinogenic effect is controversial.10,11
Only a few studies have been undertaken to assess the effects of long-term exposure to
electromagnetic waves from mobile phones on hearing in human beings.12-15 In this article,
we describe our investigation of auditory function and long-term exposure to EMFs from
mobile phones.

Patients and methods


Our study population was drawn from a group of medical students who had been regular
mobile phone users for at least 4 years. All prospective participants provided a detailed history,
with particular emphasis on the duration of mobile phone use, the preferred side of use
(phone-using ear), the presence or absence of a warm sensation in the area of the phoneusing ear, and a history of headache, hearing loss, tinnitus, vertigo, and aural fullness.
We did not include any students with a history of ear discharge, hearing loss, ear surgery,
ototoxic medication use, prolonged noise exposure, or any systemic disease that would affect
hearing. We also excluded subjects who used their mobile phone with both ears. Otoscopic
examinations had been performed by an otolaryngologist (S.B.) to rule out any external and
middle ear pathology.
A total of 40 subjects-31 men and 9 women, aged 20 to 30 years (mean 22.7)-who met our
eligibility criteria were selected for inclusion in the study. Of this group, 31 subjects typically
held their phone to the right ear and 9 to the left ear; the non-phone-using ear served as each
subject's control ear. The subjects were also split into two groups of 20 based on the duration
of their daily phone use (60 min vs. >60 min).

Pure-tone audiometry, speech audiometry, impedance audiometry, and brainstem evoked


response audiometry (BERA) were performed on all subjects. The audiometric measurements
included frequencies from 0.25 to 16 kHz, and findings in the phone-using ear were compared
with those in the control ear; comparisons were also made in the phone-using ears of the
shorter-duration (60 min) and longer-duration (>60 min) groups. For the BERA
measurements, the same comparisons were made in the wave I-III, III-V, and I-V interpeak
latencies.
Statistical analysis. The chi-square test was applied for comparisons of observation between
the two groups, and the Student t test was applied for comparisons of variable data.
Ethical considerations. Approval for the study protocol was granted by our institution's Ethics
Committee.

Results
Pure-tone audiometry revealed that no patient experienced a hearing loss-defined as a puretone average (PTA) of >25 dB at 0.5, 1, 2, and 3 kHz-in either ear. When the high-frequency
PTA-defined as the average over 4, 8, 12, and 16 kHz-was compared, abnormal hearing was
found in 5 of the 40 phone-using ears (12.5%) and in 3 of the 40 control ears (7.5%), which
was not a statistically significant difference (table 1).

Table 1. Comparison of pure-tone


average findings in the mobile-phoneusing ears (n = 40) and the control
ears (n = 40)
n (%)
HFPTA*

Phone-using ear Control ear (n Total (N = p


(n = 40)
= 40)
80)
Value

* High-frequency pure-tone average


over 4, 8, 12, and 16 kHz.
25 dB (normal hearing)

35 (87.5)

37 (92.5)

72 (90.0)
0.69

>25 dB (hearing loss)

5 (12.5)

3 (7.5)

8 (10.0)

Similarly, no statistically significant difference in high-frequency PTAs was seen according to


the duration of phone use (table 2).

Table 2. Comparison of audiometric


parameters according to duration of
phone use (60 min/day [n = 20] vs.
>60 min/day [n = 20]) in the phoneusing ears
Parameter

Mean SD

p Value

* High-frequency pure-tone average over 4, 8, 12, and 16 kHz.


HFPTA*

0.85

60 min

15.06 5.91

>60 min

14.62 8.59

I-III Latency

0.25

60 min

2.13 0.17

>60 min

2.06 0.20

III-V Latency

0.33

60 min

1.94 0.21

>60 min

2.05 0.43

I-V Latency

0.41

60 min

4.07 0.28

>60 min

3.99 0.30

Statistical analysis of the BERA data found no statistically significant differences in the wave IIII, wave III-V, and wave I-V interpeak latencies between the phone-using ears and the control

ears (table 3). Moreover, there were no differences in these latencies according to the duration
of use (table 2).

Table 3. Comparison of audiometric


parameters in the mobile-phone-using
ears (n = 40) and the control ears (n =
40)
Parameter

Mean SD

p Value

* High-frequency pure-tone average over 4, 8, 12, and 16 kHz.


HFPTA*

0.69

Phone-using ear

14.83 7.28

Control

14.93 7.48

I-III Latency

0.59

Phone-using ear

2.09 0.19

Control

2.07 0.18

III-V Latency

0.74

Phone-using ear

1.99 0.34

Control

1.97 0.19

I-V Latency

0.44

Phone-using ear

4.03 0.29

Control

3.98 0.27

Finally, no patient reported any sensations of burning or warmth behind, around, or on the ear,
and none complained of headache, fullness, or tinnitus.

Discussion
There has been considerable interest recently in the possible biologic effects of human
exposure to EMFs emitted from mobile phones. Although EMFs can exert thermal effects by
heating, mobile phones operate at a power level at which overt heating does not occur. Most
studies have now focused on whether there are any adverse biologic nonthermal effects of
frequent and long-term exposure to EMFs.
Low-energy EMFs (450 MHz) appear to cause structural and functional changes in cell
membranes, leading to an abnormal cell response. Frequencies between 800 and 1,800 MHz
can cause nonthermal effects on the structure and function of cytoplasm, inducing changes in
the electrophysiology of living cells.16
The degree of internal exposure to EMFs from mobile phones can be quantified by the amount
of energy absorbed by a unit mass of the object, which is expressed as the specific absorption
rate (SAR) in units of W/kg.17 The standards set by national and international institutions limit
the SAR to a range of 1.6 to 2 W/kg for local exposure in the general public.18
Because of the proximity of mobile phones to the head during use, the brain and auditory
system are exposed to a higher SAR than is the rest of the body. The biologic effects of EMFs
depend on both the frequency and intensity of radiation, the duration of exposure, and the
individual characteristics of a given person's nervous system and immune status.10,15,19-21
Various studies have addressed the short-term effects of acute exposure to mobile phones on
hearing.22-24 However, data are still lacking in terms of frequent and long-term exposure to
low-level EMFs on the human auditory system.12-15
Davidson and Lutman reported no chronic effects of cell phone use in terms of hearing,
tinnitus, and balance in a student population with the help of questionnaires.25 In our study,
none of the subjects reported any subjective symptoms related to mobile phone use, such as a
heat sensation around the ear, headache, fullness, or tinnitus. Our findings are in agreement
with those of Hietanen et al.26 However, other authors have reported various subjective
symptoms, especially a thermal sensation around the ear, among extensive mobile phone
users.12,13,15,24
Our comparison of high-frequency PTAs found no statistically significant difference in hearing
thresholds between the phone-using ears and the control ears. This finding supports
observations made by others. For example, Kerekhanjanarong et al found no significant
difference in hearing thresholds between dominant and nondominant ears.12 Likewise, Panda
et al found no significant difference in hearing loss at the speech frequencies and at the high
frequencies between phone users and controls in either ear.15 However, contrary findings
were reported by Garca Callejo et al, who concluded that frequent mobile phone use over 3
years was correlated with a mild hearing loss of 1 and 5 dBHL that was not observed in nonmobile-phone users.27

Kerekhanjanarong et al also observed that in 8 subjects who used a mobile phone for more
than 60 minutes per day, the hearing threshold of the dominant ear was worse than that of the
nondominant ear; but because their sample size was so small, the difference was not
statistically significant.12 Oktay and Dasdag also found that the hearing thresholds in those
who used their phone approximately 2 hours per day were higher than in moderate users (10
to 20 min/day) and controls (nonusers).13 Panda et al compared high-frequency audiometric
results and found that those who used their phones for more than 60 minutes per day had
significantly greater high-frequency PTA than those who used them less.15
In contrast, we found no significant differences in high-frequency PTAs between those who
used their phone less than 60 minutes per day and more frequent users. A possible
explanation for this is the small size of our study sample; other factors might be age, signal
strength, the proximity of a user's residence or workplace to a base station or television tower,
and other environmental influences.
Oysu et al studied the short-term effects of exposure to mobile phone EMFs on auditory
brainstem responses (ABRs) in 18 healthy human volunteers and found no changes in the
absolute latencies and interpeak latencies.28 Arai et al exposed 15 healthy volunteers with
normal hearing to mobile phone radiation for 30 minutes; no changes were noted in waves I,
III, and V, in ABR, and in midlatency response after 30 minutes of exposure.22 Similarly, Bak
et al evaluated the effects that electromagnetic radiation has on ABRs during and after the use
of a mobile phone, and they observed no differences in wave I, III, and V latencies or in
interpeak latencies.29 However, these three studies were specifically targeted to short-term
acute exposure, so their results provide no information regarding the potential effects of longerterm or cumulative exposure to EMFs from mobile phones.
In their study of the possible effects of frequent and long-term exposure to EMFs from cellular
phones on hearing in adults (based on BERA findings), Oktay and Dasdag found no
differences in wave I, III, and V latencies or in interpeak latencies among nonusers, moderate
users, and intensive users.13 Similar results were reported by Panda et al, who found no
significant differences in wave I-III, III-V, and I-V interpeak latencies between users and
controls, as well as no difference with respect to the duration of use (60 min).15
We also found no statistically significant difference in wave I-III, III-V, and I-V interpeak
latencies between the phone-using ears and the controls, and no differences in terms of the
duration of use. The only study we know of that contradicts the findings of the other BERA
studies was published Kellnyi et al, who reported a 0.2-ms delay in wave V after 15 minutes
of EMF cellular phone exposure in 10 normal-hearing subjects (mean age: 29.3 yr).30
In conclusion, we found no adverse effect on the auditory system from chronic exposure to
EMFs by mobile phones, as measured by changes in pure-tone audiometry and BERA. More
follow-up studies are needed to evaluate the effects of frequent and long-term mobile phone
use on hearing on a large sample size before we can reach any definitive conclusions.

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Oysu C, Topak M, Celik O ,et al. Effects of the acute exposure to the electromagnetic
field of mobile phones on human auditory brainstem responses. Eur Arch
Otorhinolaryngol 2005; 262 (10): 839-43.

29.

Bak M, Sliwinska-Kowalska M, Zmyslony M, Dudarewicz A. No effects of acute


exposure to the electromagnetic field emitted by mobile phones on brainstem auditory
potentials in young volunteers. Int J Occup Med Environ Health 2003; 16 (3): 201-8.

30.

Kellnyi L, Thurczy G, Faludy B, Lnrd L. Effects of mobile GSM radiotelephone


exposure on the auditory brainstem response (ABR). Neurobiology (Bp) 1999; 7 (1): 7981.

10

From the Department of ENT, Government Medical College, Patiala, Punjab, India (Dr.
Bhagat); the Department of Otorhinolaryngology, All India Institute of Medical Sciences,
Dehradun, Uttarakhand, India (Dr. Varshney); the Department of ENT (Dr. Bist and Mr. Jha)
and the Department of Neurology (Dr. Goel), Himalayan Institute of Medical Sciences, Swami
Ram Nagar, Doiwala, Dehradun; and the Department of ENT, Indira Ghandhi Institute of
Medical Sciences, Patna, Bihar, India (Dr. Mishra). The study described in this article was
conducted at the Himalayan Institute of Medical Sciences.
Corresponding author: Dr. Sanjeev Bhagat, Department of ENT, Government Medical College,
Patiala, Punjab, India Email: sbent224@gmail.com [2]
Ear Nose Throat J. 2016 August;95(8):E18
Topics
Audiometry [3]
Hearing Loss [4]
Otology [5]

Source URL: http://www.entjournal.com/article/effects-auditory-function-chronicexposure-electromagnetic-fields-mobile-phones

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