Background: With the increased availability of spatial data and computing power, spatial prediction approaches have become a standard tool for exposure assessment in environmental epidemiology. However, such models are largely dependent on accurate input data. Uncertainties in the input data can therefore have a large effect on model predictions, but are rarely quantified. Methods: With Monte Carlo simulation we assessed the effect of input uncertainty on the prediction of radio-frequency electromagnetic fields (RF-EMF) from mobile phone base stations at 252 receptor sites in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. The impact on ranking and classification was determined by computing the Spearman correlations and weighted Cohen's Kappas (based on tertiles of the RF-EMF exposure distribution) between modelled values and RF-EMF measurements performed at the receptor sites. Results: The uncertainty in modelled RF-EMF levels was large with a median coefficient of variation of 1.5. Uncertainty in receptor site height, building damping and building height contributed most to model output uncertainty. For exposure ranking and classification, the heights of buildings and receptor sites were the most important sources of uncertainty, followed by building damping, antenna- and site location. Uncertainty in antenna power, tilt, height and direction had a smaller impact on model performance. Conclusions: We quantified the effect of input data uncertainty on the prediction accuracy of an RF-EMF environmental exposure model, thereby identifying the most important sources of uncertainty and estimating the total uncertainty stemming from potential errors in the input data. This approach can be used to optimize the model and better interpret model output. (C) 2014 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
- air-pollution exposure