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Gallastegi, M., Guxens, M., Jimenez-Zabala, A., Calvente, I., Fernandez, M., Birks, L., Struchen, B., Vrijheid, M., Estarlich, M., Fernandez, M. F., Torrent, M., Ballester, F., Aurrekoetxea, J. J., Ibarluzea, J., Guerra, D., Gonzalez, J., Roosli, M., Santa-Marina, L

Characterisation of exposure to non-ionising electromagnetic fields in the Spanish INMA birth cohort: study protocol

BMC.Public Health, 2016, 16, 1, , 67, IF: 2.264, PMID: 26892951

BACKGROUND: Analysis of the association between exposure to electromagnetic fields of non-ionising radiation (EMF-NIR) and health in children and adolescents is hindered by the limited availability of data, mainly due to the difficulties on the exposure assessment. This study protocol describes the methodologies used for characterising exposure of children to EMF-NIR in the INMA (INfancia y Medio Ambiente- Environment and Childhood) Project, a prospective cohort study. METHODS/DESIGN: Indirect (proximity to emission sources, questionnaires on sources use and geospatial propagation models) and direct methods (spot and fixed longer-term measurements and personal measurements) were conducted in order to assess exposure levels of study participants aged between 7 and 18 years old. The methodology used varies depending on the frequency of the EMF-NIR and the environment (homes, schools and parks). Questionnaires assessed the use of sources contributing both to Extremely Low Frequency (ELF) and Radiofrequency (RF) exposure levels. Geospatial propagation models (NISMap) are implemented and validated for environmental outdoor sources of RFs using spot measurements. Spot and fixed longer-term ELF and RF measurements were done in the environments where children spend most of the time. Moreover, personal measurements were taken in order to assess individual exposure to RF. The exposure data are used to explore their relationships with proximity and/or use of EMF-NIR sources. DISCUSSION: Characterisation of the EMF-NIR exposure by this combination of methods is intended to overcome problems encountered in other research. The assessment of exposure of INMA cohort children and adolescents living in different regions of Spain to the full frequency range of EMF-NIR extends the characterisation of environmental exposures in this cohort. Together with other data obtained in the project, on socioeconomic and family characteristics and development of the children and adolescents, this will enable to evaluate the complex interaction between health outcomes in children and adolescents and the various environmental factors that surround them


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