Radiofrequency electromagnetic fields from mobile communication: Description of modeled dose in brain regions and the body in European children and adolescents

Environ Res. 2021 Feb:193:110505. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2020.110505. Epub 2020 Nov 24.


Background: Little is known about radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (RF) from mobile technology and resulting dose in young people. We describe modeled integrated RF dose in European children and adolescents combining own mobile device use and surrounding sources.

Methods: Using an integrated RF model, we estimated the daily RF dose in the brain (whole-brain, cerebellum, frontal lobe, midbrain, occipital lobe, parietal lobe, temporal lobes) and the whole-body in 8358 children (ages 8-12) and adolescents (ages 14-18) from the Netherlands, Spain, and Switzerland during 2012-2016. The integrated model estimated RF dose from near-field sources (digital enhanced communication technology (DECT) phone, mobile phone, tablet, and laptop) and far-field sources (mobile phone base stations via 3D-radiowave modeling or RF measurements).

Results: Adolescents were more frequent mobile phone users and experienced higher modeled RF doses in the whole-brain (median 330.4 mJ/kg/day) compared to children (median 81.8 mJ/kg/day). Children spent more time using tablets or laptops compared to adolescents, resulting in higher RF doses in the whole-body (median whole-body dose of 81.8 mJ/kg/day) compared to adolescents (41.9 mJ/kg/day). Among brain regions, temporal lobes received the highest RF dose (medians of 274.9 and 1786.5 mJ/kg/day in children and adolescents, respectively) followed by the frontal lobe. In most children and adolescents, calling on 2G networks was the main contributor to RF dose in the whole-brain (medians of 31.1 and 273.7 mJ/kg/day, respectively).

Conclusion: This first large study of RF dose to the brain and body of children and adolescents shows that mobile phone calls on 2G networks are the main determinants of brain dose, especially in temporal and frontal lobes, whereas whole-body doses were mostly determined by tablet and laptop use. The modeling of RF doses provides valuable input to epidemiological research and to potential risk management regarding RF exposure in young people.

Keywords: Cell phone use; Children’s health; Electromagnetic fields; Frontal lobe; Radio waves; Temporal lobe.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Brain
  • Cell Phone*
  • Child
  • Communication
  • Electromagnetic Fields*
  • Environmental Exposure
  • Humans
  • Netherlands
  • Radio Waves
  • Spain
  • Switzerland