Impact of head morphology on local brain specific absorption rate from exposure to mobile phone radiation

Bioelectromagnetics. 2015 Jan;36(1):66-76. doi: 10.1002/bem.21885. Epub 2014 Nov 15.


Among various possible health effects of mobile phone radiation, the risk of inducing cancer has the strongest interest of laymen and health organizations. Recently, the Interphone epidemiological study investigated the association between the estimated Radio Frequency (RF) dose from mobile phones and the risk of developing a brain tumor. Their dosimetric analysis included over 100 phone models but only two homogeneous head phantoms. So, the potential impact of individual morphological features on global and local RF absorption in the brain was not investigated. In this study, we performed detailed dosimetric simulations for 20 head models and quantified the variation of RF dose in different brain regions as a function of head morphology. Head models were exposed to RF fields from generic mobile phones at 835 and 1900 MHz in the "tilted" and "cheek" positions. To evaluate the local RF dose variation, we used and compared two different post-processing methods, that is, averaging specific absorption rate (SAR) over Talairach regions and over sixteen predefined 1 cm(3) cube-shaped field-sensors. The results show that the variation in the averaged SAR among the heads can reach up to 16.4 dB at a 1 cm(3) cube inside the brain (field-sensor method) and alternatively up to 15.8 dB in the medulla region (Talairach method). In conclusion, we show head morphology as an important uncertainty source for dosimetric studies of mobile phones. Therefore, any dosimetric analysis dealing with RF dose at a specific region in the brain (e.g., tumor risk analysis) should be based upon real morphology.

Keywords: SAR; brain tumor risk analysis; epidemiology; head morphology; mobile phone exposure.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Brain / radiation effects*
  • Cell Phone*
  • Computer Simulation
  • Female
  • Head / anatomy & histology*
  • Head / radiation effects*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Anatomic
  • Phantoms, Imaging
  • Radio Waves*
  • Radiometry
  • Uncertainty