Radiofrequency exposure in the French general population: band, time, location and activity variability.
Information on the exposure of individual persons to radiofrequency (RF) fields is scarce, although such data are crucial in order to develop a suitable exposure assessment method, and frame the hypothesis and design of future epidemiological studies. The main goal of this survey is to assess individual RF exposure on a population basis, while clarifying the relative contribution of different sources to the total exposure. A total of 377 randomly selected people were analyzed. Each participant was supplied with a personal exposure meter for 24-hour measurements (weekday), and kept a time-location-activity diary. Electric field strengths were recorded in 12 different RF bands every 13s. Summary statistics were calculated with the robust regression on order statistics method. Most of the time, recorded field strengths were not detectable with the exposure meter. Total field, cordless phones, WiFi-microwave, and FM transmitters stood apart with a proportion above the detection threshold of 46.6%, 17.2%, 14.1%, and 11.0%, respectively. The total field mean value was 0.201V/m, higher in urban areas, during daytime, among adults, and when moving. When focusing on specific channels, the highest mean exposure resulted from FM sources (0.044V/m), followed by WiFi-microwaves (0.038V/m), cordless phones (0.037V/m), and mobile phones (UMTS: 0.036V/m, UMTS: 0.037V/m). Various factors, however, contributed to a high variability in RF exposure assessment. These population-based estimates should therefore be confirmed by further surveys to better characterize the exposure situation in different microenvironments.