Personal radiofrequency electromagnetic field exposure measurements in Swiss adolescents

Environ Int. 2017 Feb;99:303-314. doi: 10.1016/j.envint.2016.12.008. Epub 2016 Dec 27.


Background: Adolescents belong to the heaviest users of wireless communication devices, but little is known about their personal exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (RF-EMF).

Objectives: The aim of this paper is to describe personal RF-EMF exposure of Swiss adolescents and evaluate exposure relevant factors. Furthermore, personal measurements were used to estimate average contributions of various sources to the total absorbed RF-EMF dose of the brain and the whole body.

Methods: Personal exposure was measured using a portable RF-EMF measurement device (ExpoM-RF) measuring 13 frequency bands ranging from 470 to 3600MHz. The participants carried the device for three consecutive days and kept a time-activity diary. In total, 90 adolescents aged 13 to 17years participated in the study conducted between May 2013 and April 2014. In addition, personal measurement values were combined with dose calculations for the use of wireless communication devices to quantify the contribution of various RF-EMF sources to the daily RF-EMF dose of adolescents.

Results: Main contributors to the total personal RF-EMF measurements of 63.2μW/m2 (0.15V/m) were exposures from mobile phones (67.2%) and from mobile phone base stations (19.8%). WLAN at school and at home had little impact on the personal measurements (WLAN accounted for 3.5% of total personal measurements). According to the dose calculations, exposure from environmental sources (broadcast transmitters, mobile phone base stations, cordless phone base stations, WLAN access points, and mobile phones in the surroundings) contributed on average 6.0% to the brain dose and 9.0% to the whole-body dose.

Conclusions: RF-EMF exposure of adolescents is dominated by their own mobile phone use. Environmental sources such as mobile phone base stations play a minor role.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Cell Phone*
  • Electromagnetic Fields*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Radiation Exposure*
  • Radiation Monitoring*
  • Radio Waves
  • Switzerland
  • Wireless Technology*