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Combining near- and far-field exposure for an organ-specific and whole-body RF-EMF proxy for epidemiological research: A reference case



A framework for the combination of near-field (NF) and far-field (FF) radio frequency electromagnetic exposure sources to the average organ and whole-body specific absorption rates (SARs) is presented. As a reference case, values based on numerically derived SARs for whole-body and individual organs and tissues are combined with realistic exposure data, which have been collected using personal exposure meters during the Swiss Qualifex study. The framework presented can be applied to any study region where exposure data is collected by appropriate measurement equipment. Based on results derived from the data for the region of Basel, Switzerland, the relative importance of NF and FF sources to the personal exposure is examined for three different study groups. The results show that a 24-h whole-body averaged exposure of a typical mobile phone user is dominated by the use of his or her own mobile phone when a Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) 900 or GSM 1800 phone is used. If only Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS) phones are used, the user would experience a lower exposure level on average caused by the lower average output power of UMTS phones. Data presented clearly indicate the necessity of collecting band-selective exposure data in epidemiological studies related to electromagnetic fields. Bioelectromagnetics 34:366–374, 2013. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.