Tracking Devices for Pets: Health Risk Assessment for Exposure to Radiofrequency Electromagnetic Fields †
WG Environmental Health, Department of Biomedical Sciences, University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna, Veterinärplatz 1, A-1210 Vienna, Austria
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.
Received: 7 July 2021
Revised: 30 August 2021
Accepted: 13 September 2021
Published: 17 September 2021
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.