Introduction: Radiofrequency (RF) fields are widely used and, while it is still unknown whether children are more vulnerable to this type of exposure, it is essential to explore their level of exposure in order to conduct adequate epidemiological studies. Personal measurements provide individualized information, but they are costly in terms of time and resources, especially in large epidemiological studies. Other approaches, such as estimation of time-weighted averages (TWAs) based on spot measurements could simplify the work.
Objectives: The aims of this study were to assess RF exposure in the Spanish INMA birth cohort by spot measurements and by personal measurements in the settings where children tend to spend most of their time, i.e., homes, schools and parks; to identify the settings and sources that contribute most to that exposure; and to explore if exposure assessment based on spot measurements is a valid proxy for personal exposure.
Methods: When children were 8 years old, spot measurements were conducted in the principal settings of 104 participants: homes (104), schools and their playgrounds (26) and parks (79). At the same time, personal measurements were taken for a subsample of 50 children during 3 days. Exposure assessment based on personal and on spot measurements were compared both in terms of mean exposures and in exposure-dependent categories by means of Bland-Altman plots, Cohen's kappa and McNemar test.
Results: Median exposure levels ranged from 29.73 (in children's bedrooms) to 200.10 μW/m2 (in school playgrounds) for spot measurements and were higher outdoors than indoors. Median personal exposure was 52.13 μW/m2 and median levels of assessments based on spot measurements ranged from 25.46 to 123.21 μW/m2. Based on spot measurements, the sources that contributed most to the exposure were FM radio, mobile phone downlink and Digital Video Broadcasting-Terrestrial, while indoor and personal sources contributed very little (altogether <20%). Similar distribution was observed with personal measurements. There was a bias proportional to power density between personal measurements and estimates based on spot measurements, with the latter providing higher exposure estimates. Nevertheless, there were no systematic differences between those methodologies when classifying subjects into exposure categories. Personal measurements of total RF exposure showed low to moderate agreement with home and bedroom spot measurements and agreed better, though moderately, with TWA based on spot measurements in the main settings where children spend time (homes, schools and parks; Kappa = 0.46).
Conclusions: Exposure assessment based on spot measurements could be a feasible proxy to rank personal RF exposure in children population, providing that all relevant locations are being measured.

Additional Metadata
Keywords Children, Electromagnetic fields, Exposure assessment, Radiofrequencies
Sponsor This work has been funded by grants from the Spanish Carlos III Health Institute [FIS-FEDER PI13/02187 incl. FEDER funds; CP13/ 00054 incl. FEDER funds; MS13/00054], by donations of councils of the study region of Gipuzkoa and from the European Community's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007–2013) under grant agreement no 603794 – the GERONIMO project.
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.envint.2018.05.028, hdl.handle.net/1765/106559
Journal Environment International
Citation
Gallastegi, M, Huss, A, Santa-Marina, L, Aurrekoetxea, J.J, Guxens Junyent, M, Birks, L, … Jiménez-Zabala, A. (2018). Children's exposure assessment of radiofrequency fields. Environment International, 118, 60–69. doi:10.1016/j.envint.2018.05.028