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Review

Tracking Devices for Pets: Health Risk Assessment for Exposure to Radiofrequency Electromagnetic Fields

1
WG Environmental Health, Department of Biomedical Sciences, University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna, Veterinärplatz 1, A-1210 Vienna, Austria
2
Institute of Animal Welfare Science, Department for Farm Animals and Veterinary Public Health, University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna, Veterinärplatz 1, A-1210 Vienna, Austria
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Dedicated to Prof. Gerhard Windischbauer, former head of the Institute of Medical Physics and Biostatistics at the University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna, on the occasion of his 80th birthday.
Animals 2021, 11(9), 2721; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11092721
Received: 7 July 2021 / Revised: 30 August 2021 / Accepted: 13 September 2021 / Published: 17 September 2021
(This article belongs to the Section Companion Animals)
To increase the probability of reunions occurring between owners and lost pets, tracking devices are applied to pets. The pet’s position is determined by satellites (e.g., GPS) and transmitted by radio frequencies (RFs) to a mobile phone. In this study, the health risks from exposure to radio frequencies emitted by radios, TVs, mobile networks, indoor devices (e.g., WLAN, Bluetooth), mobile phones, and in the use of such tracking devices were investigated. The radiation exposure was found to be well below international limit values, which means that adverse health effects are unlikely to occur. The risk of high exposure of pets is mainly caused by indoor RF-emitting devices, such as WLAN devices. This exposure can be limited through a reduction in the exposure time and an increase in the distance between the animal and the RF-emitting device. Even though the exposure of pets to total radiofrequency electromagnetic field (RF-EMF) levels was found to be below the limit values—and, therefore, not a health risk—recommendations are given for the use of tracking devices and to limit the exposure to indoor devices.
Every year, approximately 3% of cats and dogs are lost. In addition to passive methods for identifying pets, radiofrequency tracking devices (TDs) are available. These TDs can track a pet’s geographic position, which is transmitted by radio frequencies. The health risk to the animals from continuous exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (RF-EMFs) was reviewed. Fourteen out of twenty-one commercially available TDs use 2G, 3G, or 4G mobile networks, and the others work with public frequencies, WLAN, Bluetooth, etc. The exposure of pets to RF-EMFs was assessed, including ambient exposure (radios, TVs, and base stations of mobile networks), exposure from indoor devices (DECT, WLAN, Bluetooth, etc.), and the exposure from TDs. The exposure levels of the three areas were found to be distinctly below the International Commission on Non-Ionising Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) reference levels, which assure far-reaching protection from adverse health effects. The highest uncertainty regarding the exposure of pets was related to that caused by indoor RF-emitting devices using WLAN and DECT. This exposure can be limited considerably through a reduction in the exposure time and an increase in the distance between the animal and the RF-emitting device. Even though the total RF-EMF exposure level experienced by pets was found to be below the reference limits, recommendations were derived to reduce potential risks from exposure to TDs and indoor devices. View Full-Text
Keywords: tracking device; health risk; exposure; radiofrequency electromagnetic fields; lost pets; reunion; collar tracking device; health risk; exposure; radiofrequency electromagnetic fields; lost pets; reunion; collar
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MDPI and ACS Style

Klune, J.; Arhant, C.; Windschnurer, I.; Heizmann, V.; Schauberger, G. Tracking Devices for Pets: Health Risk Assessment for Exposure to Radiofrequency Electromagnetic Fields. Animals 2021, 11, 2721. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11092721

AMA Style

Klune J, Arhant C, Windschnurer I, Heizmann V, Schauberger G. Tracking Devices for Pets: Health Risk Assessment for Exposure to Radiofrequency Electromagnetic Fields. Animals. 2021; 11(9):2721. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11092721

Chicago/Turabian Style

Klune, Judith, Christine Arhant, Ines Windschnurer, Veronika Heizmann, and Günther Schauberger. 2021. "Tracking Devices for Pets: Health Risk Assessment for Exposure to Radiofrequency Electromagnetic Fields" Animals 11, no. 9: 2721. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11092721

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