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MOBI-KIDS-Risk of brain cancer from exposure to radiofrequency fields in childhood and adolescence

After leukaemia, brain tumours are the second most common cancer type in young people under 25 years of age. Little is known about what increases the risk of brain tumours. Risk factors include exposure to ionizing radiation, family history of brain tumours, and some rare medical conditions. Exposure to chemicals and to electromagnetic fields may also be associated with the risk of brain tumours, although this is still uncertain. Recent years have seen a dramatic increase in the use of communication technologies, particularly among young people, and there is growing concern about their potential health effects.

An important limitation of the studies of brain tumours in young people to date has been the limited number of children and adolescents included. Although the frequency of brain tumours has tended to increase in young people over recent decades, it is fortunately still a rare disease. Therefore, international studies are needed to better understand the effects of environmental factors on the risk of this disease.

The overall objective of the MOBI-KIDS project is to assess the potential link between the risk of brain tumors and environmental risk factors, including use of communication devices.


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Caractérisation de l’exposition aux radiofréquences (RF) induite par les ouveaux usages et les nouvelles technologies des systèmes de communications mobiles (CREST)

In the 1990’s, mobile phones were mainly used close to the head for voice calls. Much work has gone into characterising this kind of exposure. New technologies and devices, however, have lead to a rapid evaluation of uses, with phones, tablets, portable computers and other devices being used to surf the internet, download data and send text and video messages. At the same time, new types of networks (Wifi, LTE) and network configurations (Femtocell) are rapidly being developed, leading to different RF exposure distributions in the population. We have little information, currently, concerning the patterns of use of mobile communication devices and technologies in the population or their impact on personal RF exposures. This is an important limitation for exposure assessment in epidemiological studies and for the assessment of the potential health impact of RF in the general population. The main objective of CREST, therefore, is to characterize RF exposure from new mobile sources (including smartphones, tablets, laptops) in the general population as a function of technology and new uses related to these technologies. In order to achieve this objective, we have several operative objectives: 
1. The conduct of a general population survey (based on a questionnaire and an APP on smartphones) to characterise typical uses (surfing, voice calls, data download, text messages, etc.) in different contexts (home, work, school, transport, etc.) and positions (device close to the head, on the lap, etc.);

2. The evaluation of power emitted by different mobile sources, based on existing measurements and tools (mobile test system (TEMS)), for different uses (voice call – on standard networks or VoIP), close to the head or using loud-speaker or hands-free kits; data use (3G, LTE, Wifi, Femto cells);

3. The evaluation of exposure related to different uses and positions, based on a compilation of existing dosimetric data and additional measurements for specific configurations. Specific dosimetric studies will be conducted if necessary ;

4. The development of RF exposure matrices for different devices, technologies and uses based on data on typical uses and related exposure derived within the project. These matrices will be an important asset for exposure estimation in the general population and in epidemiological studies.

Work in this project will be carried out by two complementary teams (epidemiologists and engineers) who will collaborate to achieve the project’s objectives. The plan of work will be developed jointly and specific activities conducted in parallel. The work is broken down into 5 complementary Workpackages as follows :

WP1. Characterisation and evaluation of uses in the general population

WP2. Identification and characterisation of networks and systems – existing and foreseen – that can be used for the uses identified in WP1.

WP3. Evaluation of emitted power for the sources identified in WP2

WP4. Evaluation of exposure related to different uses and functions

WP5. Development of appropriate indicators to quantify RF exposure related to new devices, uses and technologies.

The estimated project duration is 36 months.

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