Evaluating exposure to radio frequencies (RF) at population-scale is important for conducting sound epidemiological studies about possible health impact of RF radiations. Numerous studies reported population exposure to RF radiations used in wireless telecommunication technologies, but used very small population samples. In this context, the real exposure of the population at scale remains poorly understood. Here, to the best of our knowledge, we report the largest crowd-based measurement of population exposure to RF produced by cellular antennas, Wi-Fi access points, and Bluetooth devices for 254,410 unique users in 13 countries from January 2017 to December 2020.
First, we present methods to assess the population exposure to RF radiations using smartphone measurements obtained using the ElectroSmart Android app. Then, we use these methods to evaluate and characterize the evolution of RF exposure. We show that total exposure has been multiplied by 2.3 in the four-year period considered, with Wi-Fi as the largest contributor. The cellular exposure levels are orders of magnitude lower than regulation limits and are not correlated to national regulation policies. The population tends to be more exposed at home; for half of the study subjects, personal Wi-Fi routers and Bluetooth devices contributed to more than 50% of their total exposure.
In this work, we showcase how crowdsource-based data allow large-scale and long-term assessment of population exposure to RF radiations.