EMF Health-effects Research

Differences in energy absorption between heads of adults and children in the near field of sources

Schonborn F, Burkhardt M, Kuster N,

Health Phys 74(2):160-168, 1998

This paper was motivated by a recent article in which the levels of electromagnetic energy absorbed in the heads of mobile phone users were compared for children and adults at the frequencies of 835 MHz and 1,900 MHz.

Significant differences were found, in particular substantially greater absorption in children's heads at 835 MHz. These findings contradict other studies in which no significant changes had been postulated.

The clarification of this issue is crucial to the mobile communications industry since current SAR evaluations as required by the FCC are only performed with phantoms based on the heads of adults.

In order to investigate the differences in absorption between adults and children due to their differing anatomies, simulations have been performed using head phantoms based on MRI scans of an adult (voxel size 2 x 2 x 1 mm3) and two children (voxel size 2 x 2 x 1.1 mm3) of the ages of 3 and 7 y.

Ten different tissue types were distinguished. The differences in absorption were investigated for the frequencies of 900 MHz and 1,800 MHz using 0.45 lambda dipoles instead of actual mobile phones. These well-defined sources simplified the investigation and facilitated the comparison to previously published data obtained from several numerical and experimental studies on phantoms based on adults.

All simulations were performed using a commercial code based on the finite integration technique. The results revealed no significant differences in the absorption of electromagnetic radiation in the near field of sources between adults and children. The same conclusion holds when children are approximated as scaled adults.

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