Abstract. The present study aimed to characterize the wire-less infrastructure and public exposure to radiofrequency (RF) electromagnetic fields, including the sub‑millimeter wave 5G, in the city center of Columbia, SC, USA. A downtown measurement route was designed to cover popular outdoor areas, including business, recreational and shopping areas. The route was measured five times during different days and times.
An exposimeter, was used to cover all the main civilian wireless broadcasting and downlink sources in frequencies 88‑5,850 MHz. The measurement route at the streets and squares calculated 1.240 V/m as a mean exposure (total as a sum of all frequency bands) and 6.867 V/m as all times maximum. The most common contributors to the exposure budget were bands FM US, 14DL, 27DL, 25DL and 66DL ‑ mainly indicating 4G. The exposure levels were found to be 12‑16% lower during weekends as compared to business hours (P<0.001). The spatial analysis of the field distribution revealed 15‑20 hotspot areas.
A number of hotspots were found where cell phone base station antennas were mounted on top of the utility poles and therefore positioned at low levels, close to street level. On the whole, the findings of the present study suggest that cell phone base station antennas should be distinct and noticeable, as this would assist individuals who need to limit their exposure by distancing themselves from RF sources.
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