Electromagnetic field exposure assessment in Europe radiofrequency fields (10 MHz-6 GHz)

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Abstract

Average levels of exposure to radiofrequency (RF) electromagnetic fields (EMFs) of the general public in Europe are difficult to summarize, as exposure levels have been reported differently in those studies in which they have been measured, and a large proportion of reported measurements were very low, sometimes falling below detection limits of the equipment used. The goal of this paper is to present an overview of the scientific literature on RF EMF exposure in Europe and to characterize exposure within the European population. A comparative analysis of the results of spot or long-term RF EMF measurements in the EU indicated that mean electric field strengths were between 0.08 V/m and 1.8 V/m. The overwhelming majority of measured mean electric field strengths were <1 V/m. It is estimated that <1% were above 6 V/m and <0.1% were above 20 V/m. No exposure levels exceeding European Council recommendations were identified in these surveys. Most population exposures from signals of radio and television broadcast towers were observed to be weak because these transmitters are usually far away from exposed individuals and are spatially sparsely distributed. On the other hand, the contribution made to RF exposure from wireless telecommunications technology is continuously increasing and its contribution was above 60% of the total exposure. According to the European exposure assessment studies identified, three population exposure categories (intermittent variable partial body exposure, intermittent variable low-level whole-body (WB) exposure and continuous low-level WB exposure) were recognized by the authors as informative for possible future risk assessment.

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