Research Impact


Exposing electromagnetic radiation

Through collaboration with international bodies UOW is contributing extensively to the safe use of mobile telecommunications

Mobile phones, base stations, Wi-Fi and a host of other modern devices use electromagnetic fields to make their wireless communication possible.

In addition to providing entertainment, these technologies have brought great benefits to society, ranging from improved emergency services and education, to improved equity in developing countries through economic developments.

However, the resultant exposure to electromagnetic fields that occurs when using these ubiquitous technologies has led to substantial concern that this may impair health.

Understanding and balancing the pros and cons of telecommunication technologies has become an urgent task for society, according to the Director of the Australian Centre for Electromagnetic Bioeffects Research at UOW, Professor Rodney Croft.

Through collaboration with international bodies, UOW experts are contributing extensively to the evidence base for recommended safe use of mobile telecommunications.

One of the two international research efforts in this area is the World Health Organization’s Environmental Health Criteria, a systematic review to bring the past 20 years of research together to determine whether mobile telecommunication technology impacts human health. 

Playing a vital role in the small team of international experts reviewing the data is the School of Psychology’s Dr Sarah Loughran, a bioelectromagnetics researcher bringing her experience to analyse the human experimental literature.

A second international effort in this area is the development of updated guidelines for the safe use of wireless technologies by the International Commission on NonIonising Radiation Protection (ICNIRP).

Professor Croft chairs the ICNIRP guidelines development process, and his expert contributions have led to three guidelines to date, covering exposure from movement through magnetic fields, such as those around magnetic resonance imaging facilities, and laser and optical radiation more generally. Dr  Loughran is also an active research contributor to the ICNIRP guidelines group.

The foundation of electromagnetic research at UOW is centred at the Australian Centre for Electromagnetic Bioeffects Research (ACEBR), a National Health and Medical Research Council Centre of Research Excellence.

As lead organisation in the Centre of Excellence, UOW academics play key roles in its research projects. Current collaborations include with the University of Bordeaux addressing the potential for electromagnetic fields to reduce Alzheimer’s disease pathology; with the University of Utrecht to determine whether the ‘blue light’ associated with ‘screen time’ before bed impairs sleep quality in children; and with the University of Montpellier to further develop research addressing the effect of mobile phones on sleep function.

Partner organisations
World Health Organization Environmental Health
International Commission on NonIonising Radiation Protection

UOW participants

Prof. Rodney Croft, Dr Sarah Loughran