Objectives Exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMF) has become ubiquitous in modern life and concern has increased regarding possible associated health effects. To date, assessment of occupational exposure has relied on job-exposure matrices, with exposure estimates for very broad occupational categories. To move EMF research forward, a new approach was necessary. A source-based strategy, incorporating detailed information on tasks, equipment used and work organisation could allow a more individualised exposure assessment.
Method Information on occupational histories and sources of EMF was collected as part of the INTERPHONE-INTEROCC study, providing an opportunity to assess occupational EMF exposure by assigning exposure to each source used. A source-exposure matrix (SEM) was developed based on measurements identified in the literature and estimates obtained through experts’ elicitation, for sources without available measurements. This paper focuses on the SEM development methodology to ensure the quality and representativeness of the estimates.
Results Estimates of exposure for 138 EMF sources were obtained from measurements (1424 aggregated records) extracted from 71 papers and hygiene reports (1974–2013). For each source, exposure was calculated by frequency band and dosimetry type, as the arithmetic and geometric means of all measurements identified. Standard deviations were included in order to characterise the variability of the estimates.
Conclusions A source-exposure matrix has been constructed for the most common sources of EMF in the workplace, based on the responses to the INTERPHONE-INTEROCC study questionnaire. This database currently represents the most comprehensive source of information on occupational EMF exposure and is available on request to researchers.
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