Radiofrequency electromagnetic fields from mobile communication: Description of modeled dose in brain regions and the body in European children and adolescents.

LE Birks, L Wel, I Liorni, L Pierotti, Monica Guxens Junyent, A Huss, M Foerster, M Capstick, M Eeftens, Hanan El Marroun, M Estarlich, M Gallastegi, LG Safont, W Joseph, L Santa-Marina, A Thielens, M Torrent, T Vrijkotte, J Wiart, M RöösliE Cardis, R Vermeulen, M Vrijheid*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Little is known about radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (RF) from mobile technology and resulting dose in young people. We describe modeled integrated RF dose in European children and adolescents combining own mobile device use and surrounding sources. Methods: Using an integrated RF model, we estimated the daily RF dose in the brain (whole-brain, cerebellum, frontal lobe, midbrain, occipital lobe, parietal lobe, temporal lobes) and the whole-body in 8358 children (ages 8–12) and adolescents (ages 14–18) from the Netherlands, Spain, and Switzerland during 2012–2016. The integrated model estimated RF dose from near-field sources (digital enhanced communication technology (DECT) phone, mobile phone, tablet, and laptop) and far-field sources (mobile phone base stations via 3D-radiowave modeling or RF measurements). Results: Adolescents were more frequent mobile phone users and experienced higher modeled RF doses in the whole-brain (median 330.4 mJ/kg/day) compared to children (median 81.8 mJ/kg/day). Children spent more time using tablets or laptops compared to adolescents, resulting in higher RF doses in the whole-body (median whole-body dose of 81.8 mJ/kg/day) compared to adolescents (41.9 mJ/kg/day). Among brain regions, temporal lobes received the highest RF dose (medians of 274.9 and 1786.5 mJ/kg/day in children and adolescents, respectively) followed by the frontal lobe. In most children and adolescents, calling on 2G networks was the main contributor to RF dose in the whole-brain (medians of 31.1 and 273.7 mJ/kg/day, respectively). Conclusion: This first large study of RF dose to the brain and body of children and adolescents shows that mobile phone calls on 2G networks are the main determinants of brain dose, especially in temporal and frontal lobes, whereas whole-body doses were mostly determined by tablet and laptop use. The modeling of RF doses provides valuable input to epidemiological research and to potential risk management regarding RF exposure in young people.

Original languageEnglish
Article number110505
JournalEnvironmental Research
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021

Bibliographical note

Sources of financial support
GERoNiMO project: This work is supported by the European Union (grant 603794).

HERMES project: This work is supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation (project number 138190). This research is also supported by the Swiss Research Foundation for Electricity and Mobile Communication (reference number 41).

ABCD, The Netherlands: This work is supported by the Netherlands Organization for Health Research and Development (grant 2100.0076and within the programme Electromagnetic Fields and Health Research (grants 85600004 and 85800001).

Generation R: The general design of the Generation R Study is made possible by financial support from the Erasmus Medical Center, Rotterdam, the Erasmus University Rotterdam, the Netherlands Organization for Health Research and Development (ZonMw (85500036)), the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO), and the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport. Hanan El Marroun is supported by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program (no.733206 LifeCycle), Stichting Volksbond Rotterdam and the Dutch Brain Foundation (De Hersenstichting, project number GH2016.2.01) and the NARSAD Young Investigator Grant from the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation grant number 27853. The funding agencies had no role in the design or conduct of the study, collection, management, analyses or interpretation of the data, or preparation, review or approval of the manuscript or the decision to submit it for publication.

INMA, Gipuzkoa: This study was funded by grants from Instituto de Salud Carlos III (FIS-PI13/02187), CIBERESP, Department of Health of the Basque Government (2015111065), and the Provincial Government of Gipuzkoa (DFG15/221) and annual agreements with the municipalities of the study area.

INMA, Menorca: This study was funded by grants from Instituto de Salud Carlos III (Red INMA G03/176; CB06/02/0041; 97/0588; 00/0021-2; PI061756; PS0901958; PI14/00677 incl. FEDER funds), CIBERESP, Beca de la IV convocatoria de Ayudas a la Investigación en Enfermedades Neurodegenerativas de La Caixa, and EC Contract No. QLK4-CT-2000-00263.

INMA, Sabadell: This study was funded by grants from Instituto de Salud Carlos III (Red INMA G03/176; CB06/02/0041; PI041436; PI081151 incl. FEDER funds; PI12/01890 incl. FEDER funds; CP13/00054 incl. FEDER funds, MS13/00054, CPII18/00018), CIBERESP, Generalitat de Catalunya-CIRIT 1999SGR 00241, Generalitat de Catalunya-AGAUR (2009 SGR 501, 2014 SGR 822), Fundació La marató de TV3 (090430), Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness (SAF2012-32991 incl. FEDER funds), Agence Nationale de Securite Sanitaire de l'Alimentation de l'Environnement et du Travail (1262C0010, EST-2016 RF-21), EU Commission (261357, 308333 and 603794). We also acknowledge support from the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation and State Research Agency through the “Centro de Excelencia Severo Ochoa 2019–2023” Program (CEX2018-000806-S), and support from the Generalitat de Catalunya through the CERCA Program.

INMA, Valencia: This study was funded by Grants from UE (FP7-ENV-2011 cod 282957 and HEALTH.2010.2.4.5-1), Spain: ISCIII (G03/176; FIS-FEDER: PI11/01007, PI11/02591, PI11/02038, PI13/1944, PI13/2032, PI14/00891, PI14/01687, PI16/1288, and PI17/00663; Miguel Servet-FEDER CP11/00178, CP15/00025, and CPII16/00051), and Generalitat Valenciana: FISABIO (UGP 15–230, UGP-15-244, and UGP-15-249).


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