Development of a source-exposure matrix for occupational exposure assessment of electromagnetic fields in the INTEROCC study

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Abstract

To estimate occupational exposures to electromagnetic fields (EMF) for the INTEROCC study, a database of source-based measurements extracted from published and unpublished literature resources had been previously constructed. The aim of the current work was to summarize these measurements into a source-exposure matrix (SEM), accounting for their quality and relevance. A novel methodology for combining available measurements was developed, based on order statistics and log-normal distribution characteristics. Arithmetic and geometric means, and estimates of variability and maximum exposure were calculated by EMF source, frequency band and dosimetry type. The mean estimates were weighted by our confidence in the pooled measurements. The SEM contains confidence-weighted mean and maximum estimates for 312 EMF exposure sources (from 0 Hz to 300 GHz). Operator position geometric mean electric field levels for radiofrequency (RF) sources ranged between 0.8 V/m (plasma etcher) and 320 V/m (RF sealer), while magnetic fields ranged from 0.02 A/m (speed radar) to 0.6 A/m (microwave heating). For extremely low frequency sources, electric fields ranged between 0.2 V/m (electric forklift) and 11,700 V/m (high-voltage transmission line-hotsticks), whereas magnetic fields ranged between 0.14 μT (visual display terminals) and 17 μT (tungsten inert gas welding). The methodology developed allowed the construction of the first EMF-SEM and may be used to summarize similar exposure data for other physical or chemical agents.

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