Comparison of Personal Radio Frequency Electromagnetic Field Exposure in Different Urban Areas Across Europe

Environ Res. 2010 Oct;110(7):658-63. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2010.06.009.


Background: Only limited data are available on personal radio frequency electromagnetic field (RF-EMF) exposure in everyday life. Several European countries performed measurement studies in this area of research. However, a comparison between countries regarding typical exposure levels is lacking.

Objectives: To compare for the first time mean exposure levels and contributions of different sources in specific environments between different European countries.

Methods: In five countries (Belgium, Switzerland, Slovenia, Hungary, and the Netherlands), measurement studies were performed using the same personal exposure meters. The pooled data were analyzed using the robust regression on order statistics (ROS) method in order to allow for data below the detection limit. Mean exposure levels were compared between different microenvironments such as homes, public transports, or outdoor.

Results: Exposure levels were of the same order of magnitude in all countries and well below the international exposure limits. In all countries except for the Netherlands, the highest total exposure was measured in transport vehicles (trains, car, and busses), mainly due to radiation from mobile phone handsets (up to 97%). Exposure levels were in general lower in private houses or flats than in offices and outdoors. At home, contributions from various sources were quite different between countries.

Conclusions: Highest total personal RF-EMF exposure was measured inside transport vehicles and was well below international exposure limits. This is mainly due to mobile phone handsets. Mobile telecommunication can be considered to be the main contribution to total RF-EMF exposure in all microenvironments.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Electromagnetic Fields*
  • Environmental Exposure*
  • Europe
  • Humans
  • Radio Waves*
  • Urban Population*