Measured radiofrequency exposure during various mobile-phone use scenarios

J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol. 2011 Jul-Aug;21(4):343-54. doi: 10.1038/jes.2010.12. Epub 2010 Jun 16.


Epidemiologic studies of mobile phone users have relied on self reporting or billing records to assess exposure. Herein, we report quantitative measurements of mobile-phone power output as a function of phone technology, environmental terrain, and handset design. Radiofrequency (RF) output data were collected using software-modified phones that recorded power control settings, coupled with a mobile system that recorded and analyzed RF fields measured in a phantom head placed in a vehicle. Data collected from three distinct routes (urban, suburban, and rural) were summarized as averages of peak levels and overall averages of RF power output, and were analyzed using analysis of variance methods. Technology was the strongest predictor of RF power output. The older analog technology produced the highest RF levels, whereas CDMA had the lowest, with GSM and TDMA showing similar intermediate levels. We observed generally higher RF power output in rural areas. There was good correlation between average power control settings in the software-modified phones and power measurements in the phantoms. Our findings suggest that phone technology, and to a lesser extent, degree of urbanization, are the two stronger influences on RF power output. Software-modified phones should be useful for improving epidemiologic exposure assessment.

MeSH terms

  • Cell Phone / classification
  • Cell Phone / statistics & numerical data*
  • Environmental Exposure / analysis*
  • Environmental Exposure / statistics & numerical data
  • Health Services Research / classification
  • Health Services Research / methods*
  • Health Services Research / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Phantoms, Imaging
  • Radio Waves*
  • Risk Assessment / methods
  • Risk Assessment / statistics & numerical data
  • Rural Population
  • Suburban Population
  • Urban Population