Representativeness and repeatability of microenvironmental personal and head exposures to radio-frequency electromagnetic fields

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The aims of this study were to: i) investigate the repeatability and representativeness of personal radio frequency-electromagnetic fields (RF-EMFs) exposure measurements, across different microenvironments, ii) perform simultaneous evaluations of personal RF-EMF exposures for the whole body and the head, iii) validate the data obtained with a head-worn personal distributed exposimeter (PDE) against those obtained with an on-body worn personal exposimeter (PEM). Data on personal and head RF-EMF exposures were collected by performing measurements across 15 microenvironments in Melbourne, Australia. A body-worn PEM and a head-worn PDE were used for measuring body and head exposures, respectively. The summary statistics obtained for total RF-EMF exposure showed a high representativeness (r2 > 0.66 for two paths in the same area) and a high repeatability over time (r2 > 0.87 for repetitions of the same path). The median head exposure in the 900 MHz downlink band ranged between 0.06 V/m and 0.31 V/m. The results obtained during simultaneous measurements using the two devices showed high correlations (0.42 < r2 < 0.94). The highest mean total RF-EMF exposure was measured in Melbourne's central business district (0.89 V/m), whereas the lowest mean total exposure was measured in a suburban residential area (0.05 V/m). This study shows that personal RF-EMF microenvironmental measurements in multiple microenvironments have high representativeness and repeatability over time. The personal RF-EMF exposure levels (i.e. body and head exposures) demonstrated moderate to high correlations.HighlightsFirst time assessment of head exposure to RF-EMF in uncontrolled environments, in 15 microenvironments in Melbourne, Australia.We show that our measurement protocol is repeatable over time.We show that the paths selected in our protocol are representative for the larger areas in which they are defined.Exposure to RF-EMF is higher in more dense urban areas than in less populated suburban areas in the outskirts of the city.

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