To estimate occupational exposures to electromagnetic fields (EMF) for the INTEROCC study, a database of source-based measurements extracted from published and unpublished literature resources had been previously constructed. The aim of the current work was to summarize these measurements into a source-exposure matrix (SEM), accounting for their quality and relevance. A novel methodology for combining available measurements was developed, based on order statistics and log-normal distribution characteristics. Arithmetic and geometric means, and estimates of variability and maximum exposure were calculated by EMF source, frequency band and dosimetry type. The mean estimates were weighted by our confidence in the pooled measurements. The SEM contains confidence-weighted mean and maximum estimates for 312 EMF exposure sources (from 0 Hz to 300 GHz). Operator position geometric mean electric field levels for radiofrequency (RF) sources ranged between 0.8 V/m (plasma etcher) and 320 V/m (RF sealer), while magnetic fields ranged from 0.02 A/m (speed radar) to 0.6 A/m (microwave heating). For extremely low frequency sources, electric fields ranged between 0.2 V/m (electric forklift) and 11,700 V/m (high-voltage transmission line-hotsticks), whereas magnetic fields ranged between 0.14 μT (visual display terminals) and 17 μT (tungsten inert gas welding). The methodology developed allowed the construction of the first EMF–SEM and may be used to summarize similar exposure data for other physical or chemical agents.
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Magnetic flux density, in μT (low-frequency fields)
Chemical vapor deposition
Electric field strength, in V/m
Extremely low frequency (3–3000 Hz)
Geometric standard deviation
Magnetic field strength, in A/m (high-frequency fields)
High-voltage transmission lines
Intermediate frequency (3 kHz–10 MHz)
Outside dynamic range (The range between an EMF instrument’s overload input and its minimum input with acceptable accuracy)
Power density, in watts per square meter (W/m2)
Radiofrequency (10 MHz–300 GHz)
Static Magnetic Fields, in microTesla (μT), 0 Hz
Tungsten inert gas
Standard normal quantile of a data set’s maximum value.
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We thank Dave Conover (deceased), Ed Mantiply and Leeka Kheifets (USA); Dave McLean (New Zealand); Hans Kromhout (the Netherlands); Paolo Vecchia (Italy); Louis Nadon (Canada); Wout Joseph (Belgium); Martie van Tongeren, Simon Mann, Myron Maslanyj, Cristian Goiceanu and Carolina Calderon (UK), Peter Gajšek (Slovenia) and Tommi Alanko, Maila Hietanen and Maria Tiikkaja (Finland) for providing and/or assessing measurements. Jérôme Lavoué (Canada) and Stanley Shulman (USA) contributed to the development of the SEM methodology. We also thank Professor Pere Puig (Autonomous University of Barcelona) for his input on the history of estimation. This work was funded by the National Institutes for Health (NIH) Grant No. 1R01CA124759-01. Coding of the French occupational data was in part funded by AFSSET (Convention N° ST-2005-004). The INTERPHONE study was supported by funding from the European Fifth Framework Program, “Quality of Life and Management of Living Resources” (contract 100 QLK4-CT-1999901563) and the International Union against Cancer (UICC). The UICC received funds for this purpose from the Mobile Manufacturers’ Forum and GSM Association. Provision of funds to the INTERPHONE study investigators via the UICC was governed by agreements that guaranteed INTERPHONE's complete scientific independence (http://interphone.iarc.fr/interphone_funding.php). In Australia, funding was received from the Australian National Health and Medical Research 5 Council (EME Grant 219129), with funds originally derived from mobile phone service licence fees; a University of Sydney Medical Foundation Program; the Cancer Council NSW and The Cancer Council Victoria. In Montreal, Canada, funding was received from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (project MOP-42525); the Canada Research Chair programme; the Guzzo-CRS Chair in Environment and Cancer; the Fonds de la recherche en sante du Quebec; the Société de recherché sur le cancer; in Ottawa and Vancouver, Canada, from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), the latter including partial support from the Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association; the NSERC/SSHRC/McLaughlin Chair in Population Health Risk Assessment at the University of Ottawa. In France, funding was received by l’Association pour la Recherche sur le Cancer (ARC; Contrat N85142) and three network operators (Orange, SFR, Bouygues Telecom). In Germany, funding was received from the German Mobile Phone Research Program (Deutsches Mobilfunkforschungsprogramm) of the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nuclear 45 Safety, and Nature Protection; the Ministry for the Environment and Traffic of the state of Baden — Wurttemberg; the Ministry for the Environment of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia; the MAIFOR Program (Mainzer Forschungsforderungsprogramm) of the University of Mainz. In New Zealand, funding was provided by the Health Research Council, Hawkes Bay Medical Research Foundation, the Wellington Medical Research Foundation, the Waikato Medical Research Foundation and the Cancer Society of New Zealand. Additional funding for the UK study was received from the Mobile Telecommunications, Health and Research (MTHR) program, funding from the Health and Safety Executive, the Department of Health, the UK Network Operators (O2, Orange, T-Mobile, Vodafone, ‘3”) and the Scottish Executive. All industry funding was governed by contracts guaranteeing the complete scientific independence of the investigators.
The authors declare no conflict of interest.
The findings and conclusions in this paper have not been formally disseminated by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and should not be construed to represent any agency determination or policy.
Interocc Study Group members: International coordination
Elisabeth Cardis9, Laurel Kincl10, Lesley Richardson11, Geza Benke12, Jérôme Lavoué13 and Jack Siemiatycki13, Daniel Krewski14, Marie-Elise Parent15, Martine Hours16, Brigitte Schlehofer17 and Klaus Schlaefer17, Joachim Schüz18, Maria Blettner19, Siegal Sadetzki20, Dave McLean21, Sarah Fleming22, Martie van Tongeren23, Joseph D Bowman24
9CREAL, Spain; 10now at Oregon State University, USA; 11now at University of Montreal Hospital Research Centre, Canada; 12Monash University, Australia; 13University of Montreal Hospital Research Centre, Canada; 14University of Ottawa, Canada; 15INRS-Institut Armand-Frappier, France; 16IFSTTAR, Germany; 17DKFZ, Germany; 18now at IARC, France; 19Universitätsmedizin Mainz, Germany; 20Gertner Institute, Chaim Sheba Medical Center and Tel Aviv University, Israel; 21Massey University, New Zealand; 22University of Leeds, UK; 23Institute of Occupational Medicine, UK; 24NIOSH, USA.
Supplementary Information accompanies the paper on the Journal of Exposure Science and Environmental Epidemiology website
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Vila, J., Bowman, J., Figuerola, J. et al. Development of a source-exposure matrix for occupational exposure assessment of electromagnetic fields in the INTEROCC study. J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol 27, 398–408 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1038/jes.2016.60
- electromagnetic fields
- log-normal distribution
- occupational exposure assessment
- semi-empirical exposure estimation
- source-exposure matrix
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