2024:05 Recent Research on EMF and Health Risk, Seventeenth report from SSM’s Scientific Council on Electromagnetic Fields, 2022

SSM perspective


The Swedish Radiation Safety Authority’s (SSM) Scientific Council on Electromagnetic Fields monitors current research on potential health risks in relation to exposure to electromagnetic fields and provides the authority with advice on assessing possible health risks. The Council gives guidance when the authority must give an opinion on policy matters when scientific testing is necessary. The council is required to submit a written report each year on the current research and knowledge situation.

This is a consensus report. This means that all members of the Scientific Council agree with the complete report. This increases the strength of the given conclusions.

The report has the primary objective of covering the previous year’s research in the area of electromagnetic fields (EMF) and health but also to place this in the context of present knowledge. The report gives the authority an overview and provides an important basis for risk assessment.


This report reviews studies on electromagnetic fields (EMF) and health risks, published from January 2021 up to and including December 2021. The report is the seventeenth in a series of annual scientific reviews which consecutively discusses and assesses relevant new studies and put these in the context of available information. The report covers different areas of EMF (static, low frequency, intermediate and radio frequency fields) and different types of studies such as biological, human and epidemiological studies. The result will be a gradually developing health risk assessment of exposure to EMF.

No new established causal relationships between EMF exposure and health risk have been identified.

The studies presented in this report do not resolve whether the consistently observed association between ELF magnetic field (ELF-MF) exposure and childhood leukaemia in epidemiology is causal or not.

New research on brain tumours and mobile phone use is in line with previous research suggesting mostly an absence of risk. The thyroid gland is potentially highly exposed during mobile phone calls but little research on thyroid cancer has been conducted so far.

Concerning studies on animals, it is difficult to draw general conclusions other than that under certain circumstances some effects from RF-EMF exposure are observed in experimental animals. The observations of increased oxidative stress reported in previous SSM reports continue to be found, some even below current reference levels. Oxidative stress is a natural biological process that can sometimes be involved in pathogenesis, but under what circumstances oxidative stress due to weak radio wave exposure may affect human health remains to be investigated.

It is notable that new studies revealed that perception thresholds are lower in hybrid exposure conditions than in DC or AC field exposure alone.

Despite the increasing use of applications in the intermediate frequency (IF) range of the electromagnetic spectrum (300 Hz-10 MHz), scientific evaluation of potential health risks in that range is scarce. However, the few studies identified by the council in this area have not indicated any health effects below current reference levels.

The annual report also includes a section where studies that lack satisfactory quality have been listed. This year, as well as last year, many studies have been excluded due to poor quality (see appendix). From a scientific perspective, studies of poor quality are irrelevant. They are also a waste of money, human resources and, in many cases, experimental animals.


The results of the research review give no reason to change any reference levels or recommendations in the field. However, the observations of biological effects in animals due to weak radio wave exposure clearly show the importance of maintaining the Swedish Environmental Code precautionary thinking.

SSM´s hands-free recommendation for mobile phone calls remains even though trends of glioma incidences do not provide support for an increasing risk caused by mobile phone radio wave exposure. However, observed biological effects and uncertainties regarding possible long term effects justify caution.

No new findings that clearly change the suspicion of a causal link between weak low-frequency magnetic fields and childhood leukaemia have emerged in the report. The Swedish authorities’ recommendation to generally limit exposure to low frequency magnetic fields due to the observed increased incidence of childhood leukaemia close to power lines remains unchanged.