Conduct of a personal radiofrequency electromagnetic field measurement study: Proposed study protocol

Martin Röösli*, Patrizia Frei, John Bolte, Georg Neubauer, Elisabeth Cardis, Maria Feychting, Peter Gajsek, Sabine Heinrich, Wout Joseph, Simon Mann, Luc Martens, Evelyn Mohler, Roger C. Parslow, Aslak Harbo Poulsen, Katja Radon, Joachim Schüz, György Thuroczy, Jean François Viel, Martine Vrijheid

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

91 Citations (Scopus)


Background. The development of new wireless communication technologies that emit radio frequency electromagnetic fields (RF-EMF) is ongoing, but little is known about the RF-EMF exposure distribution in the general population. Previous attempts to measure personal exposure to RF-EMF have used different measurement protocols and analysis methods making comparisons between exposure situations across different study populations very difficult. As a result, observed differences in exposure levels between study populations may not reflect real exposure differences but may be in part, or wholly due to methodological differences. Methods. The aim of this paper is to develop a study protocol for future personal RF-EMF exposure studies based on experience drawn from previous research. Using the current knowledge base, we propose procedures for the measurement of personal exposure to RF-EMF, data collection, data management and analysis, and methods for the selection and instruction of study participants. Results. We have identified two basic types of personal RF-EMF measurement studies: population surveys and microenvironmental measurements. In the case of a population survey, the unit of observation is the individual and a randomly selected representative sample of the population is needed to obtain reliable results. For microenvironmental measurements, study participants are selected in order to represent typical behaviours in different microenvironments. These two study types require different methods and procedures. Conclusion. Applying our proposed common core procedures in future personal measurement studies will allow direct comparisons of personal RF-EMF exposures in different populations and study areas.

Original languageEnglish
Article number23
JournalEnvironmental Health: A Global Access Science Source
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2010

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
No specific funding was obtained for development of this paper. We obtained travel reimbursements from COST Action BM0704 for meetings in Davos (17 June 2009) and Dublin (26 August 2009). MR is supported by the Swiss School of Public Health (SSPH+). JB is supported by the Netherlands Organisation for Health Research and Development (ZonMw). PF and EM are supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation (Grant 405740-113595). WJ is a Post-Doctoral Fellow of the FWO-V (Research Foundation - Flanders).


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