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Collaboration with Prof. Martin Röösli: validation of the Dutch geospatial model of radio frequency electromagnetic field exposure and cross-comparability of measurements with Swiss data


Bij epidemiologische studies naar effecten van blootstelling aan elektromagnetische velden is het onmogelijk om per deelnemer te meten waaraan hij blootgesteld wordt. Het gaat nl. om duizenden zo niet tienduizend mensen. Er zijn daarom modellen nodig om dit in te schatten. Voor het schatten van radiofrequente elektromagnetische velden (RF-EMV) bestaat een Zwitsers computermodel (NisMap). Voor de toepassing van dat model in Nederland is samengewerkt met dr. Alfred Bürgi van Arias Research in Bern. De Nederlandse onderzoekers hebben, samen met het Zwitserse Tropical and Public Health Institute in Basel (dr. Martin Röösli), het model getest in Basel en Amsterdam. Op verschillende dagen en in verschillende wijken hebben ze, al metende, twaalf keer dezelfde route gelopen. Door het computermodel zo te verfijnen is de blootstelling aan RF-EMV redelijk goed te schatten. De metingen laten ook zien dat het niveau van EMV in Amsterdam iets hoger is dan in Basel, maar ver onder de huidige normen.


Samenvatting van de aanvraag

The introduction of telecommunication technology has led to a substantial increase in exposure to radio frequency electromagnetic fields (RF-EMF) over the last two decades. This development has raised concerns regarding potential health effects from RF-EMF exposure. The Division of Environmental Epidemiology of the Institute for Risk Assessment Sciences, Utrecht University, has recently been awarded several grants for research and education within the ZonMw Research Programme EMF and Health. In particular, these grants include a large pooled community-based cohort study, and a collaboration grant to establish a three-dimensional geospatial exposure model for the area of Amsterdam, The Netherlands. The geospatial model aims at environmental RF-EMF exposure assessment for a large study collective where personal measurements are not feasible for every study participant. A similar model has been tested successfully in a Swiss study. ZonMw recently awarded the collaboration grant and regarded it as an “improvement and a contribution to the general understanding of EMF”, but requested to put effort in “providing proof that the results of the software are accurate”. While some personal measurements were already foreseen in the cohort study, this request necessitates supplementary expertise, as well as additional measurements with a tailored methodology. Over the last few years, personal measurement devices (exposimeters) have become available which allow capturing exposure to RF-EMF from multiple sources in the everyday environment. Several studies have demonstrated the feasibility of exposimeter measurements in population samples, including data collected in The Netherlands. These measurements have focussed on exposure during specific activities such as riding a bike, walking or travelling in a train. This approach helps in characterising the temporal variability of the populations’ exposure, but it provides only limited information about the spatial distribution of the RF-EMF exposure of a population. Because previous research seems to suggest a higher importance of where individuals spend their time, rather than what individuals do, our measurements will focus on exposure profiles of areas, and not on activities of persons. Also, the three-dimensional model will predict spatially defined exposure levels. Therefore, information on area profiles of exposure would add crucial information for a thorough model validation. The area of Basel, Switzerland, is one of the few worldwide where a three-dimensional RF-EMF model has been set up, was validated and which is currently being applied in an epidemiological study. A cross-comparison between the anticipated Dutch and the Swiss modelled and measured data, however, is difficult to perform due to the measurement procedures that were applied. In Switzerland, measurements are currently planned to be expanded, which provides the opportunity to optimise and harmonise methods between countries. Area profiles of exposure measured in Basel and in Amsterdam (the residential area of the participants in the EPIC MORGEN cohort) would add a missing link in environmental RF-EMF exposure assessment for the epidemiological studies. In our collaborative effort, we will define a procedure and conduct measurement series of area profiles that will be performed in Amsterdam and in Basel. Standardisation of the measurements will include using a predefined selection procedure of areas and a measurement protocol, identical exposimeters with much improved measurement characteristics compared to the ones currently available, and a joint data analysis and interpretation. We expect to publish our results in the peer-reviewed literature and also make the results and their interpretation available for use to the ongoing studies on RF-EMF exposure and health in The Netherlands at the different institutions. We also expect considerable knowledge transfer from this collaboration. The collaborating Swiss research group has published several papers on EMF exposure assessment and is a driving force in the area of personal RF-EMF measurements. They have organized an international symposium on personal radiofrequency in 2008 in Pasadena (California). They are part of the COST action BM0704 (emerging EMF technologies: health risk management) and have initiated an international ad-hoc working group consisting of 19 European scientists from 14 different institutions that compile experience with RF-EMF exposure assessment from the different centres. The international collaboration will also include teaching, and this, as well as sharing experiences and joint work discussions on the foreseen measurement results will directly result in knowledge transfer both within as well outside IRAS. The results of this collaboration will improve understanding of current exposure assessment efforts that are being conducted and their application in studies of risks to human health.



Looptijd: 100%
Looptijd: 100 %
Onderdeel van programma:
Gerelateerde subsidieronde:
Projectleider en penvoerder:
Dr. A. Huss
Verantwoordelijke organisatie:
Universiteit Utrecht