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Personal radiofrequency electromagnetic field exposure of adolescents in the Greater London area in the SCAMP cohort and the association with restrictions on permitted use of mobile communication technologies at school and at home

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Claudia Schmutz, Alexandra Bürgler, Narain Ashta, Jana Soenksen, Yasmin Bou Karim, Chen Shen, Rachel B. Smith, Rosemary H. Jenkins, Michael O. Mireku, Julian Mutz, Mikaël J.a. Maes, Rosi Hirst, Irene Chang, Charlotte Fleming, Aamirah Mussa, Daphna Kesary, Darren Addison, Myron Maslanyj, Mireille B. Toledano, Martin Röösli & 1 more Marloes Eeftens

Original languageEnglish
Article number113252
JournalEnvironmental Research
Volume212
Issue numberPart B
Early online date12 Apr 2022
DOIs
Accepted/In press2 Apr 2022
E-pub ahead of print12 Apr 2022
PublishedSep 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information: SCAMP is independent research funded (2021–2025) by the Medical Research Council (MRC) ( MR/V004190/1 ), and originally commissioned and funded (March 2014–Dec 2021) by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Policy Research Programme ( PRP ) (Secondary School Cohort Study of Mobile Phone Use and Neurocognitive and Behavioural Outcomes/091/0212) via the Research Initiative on Health and Mobile Telecommunications ( RIHMT ) - a partnership between public funders and the mobile phone industry. This study is part supported by the MRC Centre for Environment and Health, which is currently funded by the MRC ( MR/S019669/1, 2019–2024 ). The study is also supported by funds from the NIHR Health Protection Research Units in Environmental Exposures and Health & Chemical and Radiation Threats and Hazards, based at Imperial College London, in partnership with UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) (HPRU-2012-10141). Infrastructure support for the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Imperial College London was provided by the NIHR Imperial Biomedical Research Centre. MBT's Chair, RBS's Fellowship and the work in this paper is supported in part by a donation from Marit Mohn to Imperial College London to support Population Child Health through the Mohn Centre for Children's Health and Wellbeing. The funders of the study had no role in the design or conduct of the study nor the reporting of the SCAMP study results. The views expressed in this paper are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the MRC, NIHR or UKHSA. Funding Information: SCAMP is independent research funded (2021?2025) by the Medical Research Council (MRC) (MR/V004190/1), and originally commissioned and funded (March 2014?Dec 2021) by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Policy Research Programme (PRP) (Secondary School Cohort Study of Mobile Phone Use and Neurocognitive and Behavioural Outcomes/091/0212) via the Research Initiative on Health and Mobile Telecommunications (RIHMT) - a partnership between public funders and the mobile phone industry. This study is part supported by the MRC Centre for Environment and Health, which is currently funded by the MRC (MR/S019669/1, 2019?2024). The study is also supported by funds from the NIHR Health Protection Research Units in Environmental Exposures and Health & Chemical and Radiation Threats and Hazards, based at Imperial College London, in partnership with UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) (HPRU-2012-10141). Infrastructure support for the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Imperial College London was provided by the NIHR Imperial Biomedical Research Centre. MBT's Chair, RBS's Fellowship and the work in this paper is supported in part by a donation from Marit Mohn to Imperial College London to support Population Child Health through the Mohn Centre for Children's Health and Wellbeing. The funders of the study had no role in the design or conduct of the study nor the reporting of the SCAMP study results. The views expressed in this paper are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the MRC, NIHR or UKHSA. Publisher Copyright: © 2022

King's Authors

Abstract

Personal measurements of radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (RF-EMF) have been used in several studies to characterise personal exposure in daily life, but such data are limitedly available for adolescents, and not yet for the United Kingdom (UK). In this study, we aimed to characterise personal exposure to RF-EMF in adolescents and to study the association between exposure and rules applied at school and at home to restrict wireless communication use, likely implemented to reduce other effects of mobile technology (e.g. distraction). We measured exposure to RF-EMF for 16 common frequency bands (87.5 MHz–3.5 GHz), using portable measurement devices (ExpoM-RF), in a subsample of adolescents participating in the cohort Study of Cognition, Adolescents and Mobile Phones (SCAMP) from Greater London (UK) (n = 188). School and home rules were assessed by questionnaire and concerned the school's availability of WiFi and mobile phone policy, and parental restrictions on permitted mobile phone use. Adolescents recorded their activities in real time using a diary app on a study smartphone, while characterizing their personal RF-EMF exposure in daily life, during different activities and times of the day. Data analysis was done for 148 adolescents from 29 schools who recorded RF-EMF data for a median duration of 47 h. The majority (74%) of adolescents spent part of their time at school during the measurement period. Median total RF-EMF exposure was 40 μW/m2 at home, 94 μW/m2 at school, and 100 μW/m2 overall. In general, restrictions at school or at home made little difference for adolescents’ measured exposure to RF-EMF, except for uplink exposure from mobile phones while at school, which was found to be significantly lower for adolescents attending schools not permitting phone use at all, compared to adolescents attending schools allowing mobile phone use during breaks. This difference was not statistically significant for total personal exposure. Total exposure to RF-EMF in adolescents living in Greater London tended to be higher compared to exposure levels reported in other European countries. This study suggests that school policies and parental restrictions are not associated with a lower RF-EMF exposure in adolescents.

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