Joseph W, Frei P, Roösli M, Thuróczy G, Gajsek P, Trcek T, Bolte J, Vermeeren G, Mohler E, Juhász P, Finta V, Martens L. Comparison of personal radio frequency electromagnetic field exposure in different urban areas across Europe. Environ Res. Jul 16, 2010. Ahead of print.
Exposure to electromagnetic fields of the general public is assessed with personal exposure meters. Such measurements were performed in several European countries in order to evaluate exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields in everyday life. Because of different recruitment strategies and data analysis methods, direct comparison between results of studies from different countries is difficult.
The objective was “to compare radiofrequency electromagnetic field exposure in different microenvironments between urban areas in five European countries by applying the same data analysis methods.”
The study was conducted in Belgium, Switzerland, Slovenia, Hungary and the Netherlands. Measurements using the same personal exposure meters were performed in different “microenvironments”: offices, trains, cars/buses, at home, and outdoor. Because a large proportion of measurements were below the limit of detection of the personal exposure meter (0.0067 mW/m2), the robust regression on order statistics (ROS) was applied to allow for such measurements.
Exposure levels in all countries were of the same order of magnitude. Mean power densities for all the microenvironments in all countries were much below the ICNIRP exposure guidelines. In the Netherlands, the highest exposure levels were measured in offices. In all other countries, the highest exposures occurred in transport (trains and cars/buses) followed by urban outdoor, offices and urban homes. Exposure in urban homes was lowest in all countries. Exposure to mobile communication made a significant contribution to total RF exposure in all microenvironments. In Hungary, Slovenia and the Netherlands, it was the highest in all microenvironments. In transport vehicles, radiation from mobile phone handsets contributed from 63% to 97% in different countries.
Interpretation and Conclusion
The highest personal exposure, which was still much below ICNIRP limits, occurred in transport vehicles and was mainly due to mobile phone handsets. Mobile communication was a major contributor to total RF exposure in all microenvironments in all countries.