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Generalized EMF research using novel methods

An integrated approach: from research to risk assessment and support to risk management.

The European population is increasingly exposed to new physical and chemical agents in the environment, some of which may be damaging to health. Among these, electromagnetic fields (EMF) are one of the most widespread, and their application in new technologies continues to grow, with novel uses being actively developed and commercialised. Although there is some concern among the public and public health professionals alike about possible health effects related to EMF, results of studies to date are inconsistent.

  • To better understand mechanisms underlying possible health effects of EMF;
  • To better characterise current and future populations levels of EMF exposure in Europe;
  • To further the state of knowledge on EMF and health;
  • To improve health risk assessment of EMF; and
  • To reinforce policy development and propose non-technological means to reduce EMF exposure.

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Caractérisation de l’exposition aux radiofréquences (RF) induite par les ouveaux usages et les nouvelles technologies des systèmes de communications mobiles (CREST)

In the 1990’s, mobile phones were mainly used close to the head for voice calls. Much work has gone into characterising this kind of exposure. New technologies and devices, however, have lead to a rapid evaluation of uses, with phones, tablets, portable computers and other devices being used to surf the internet, download data and send text and video messages. At the same time, new types of networks (Wifi, LTE) and network configurations (Femtocell) are rapidly being developed, leading to different RF exposure distributions in the population. We have little information, currently, concerning the patterns of use of mobile communication devices and technologies in the population or their impact on personal RF exposures. This is an important limitation for exposure assessment in epidemiological studies and for the assessment of the potential health impact of RF in the general population. The main objective of CREST, therefore, is to characterize RF exposure from new mobile sources (including smartphones, tablets, laptops) in the general population as a function of technology and new uses related to these technologies. In order to achieve this objective, we have several operative objectives: 
1. The conduct of a general population survey (based on a questionnaire and an APP on smartphones) to characterise typical uses (surfing, voice calls, data download, text messages, etc.) in different contexts (home, work, school, transport, etc.) and positions (device close to the head, on the lap, etc.);

2. The evaluation of power emitted by different mobile sources, based on existing measurements and tools (mobile test system (TEMS)), for different uses (voice call – on standard networks or VoIP), close to the head or using loud-speaker or hands-free kits; data use (3G, LTE, Wifi, Femto cells);

3. The evaluation of exposure related to different uses and positions, based on a compilation of existing dosimetric data and additional measurements for specific configurations. Specific dosimetric studies will be conducted if necessary ;

4. The development of RF exposure matrices for different devices, technologies and uses based on data on typical uses and related exposure derived within the project. These matrices will be an important asset for exposure estimation in the general population and in epidemiological studies.

Work in this project will be carried out by two complementary teams (epidemiologists and engineers) who will collaborate to achieve the project’s objectives. The plan of work will be developed jointly and specific activities conducted in parallel. The work is broken down into 5 complementary Workpackages as follows :

WP1. Characterisation and evaluation of uses in the general population

WP2. Identification and characterisation of networks and systems – existing and foreseen – that can be used for the uses identified in WP1.

WP3. Evaluation of emitted power for the sources identified in WP2

WP4. Evaluation of exposure related to different uses and functions

WP5. Development of appropriate indicators to quantify RF exposure related to new devices, uses and technologies.

The estimated project duration is 36 months.

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