Awareness and Perception of Undergraduate Students towards Risk Associated with Wireless Electromagnetic Field Radiation Exposure in Enugu, South-East Nigeria: A Cross-sectional Study
Chinenye Glory Mgbe,
Ph.D, Department of Health Science, National Open University of Nigeria, Enugu, Nigeria.
Introduction: Use of telecommunication equipment (cell phone or mobile phone, tablets, walkie-talkie, ipads, ipods, android) has been on the increase globally. There is an estimate of over 145 million active subscribers on record in Nigeria. Hence, there is need for correct information about the associated risk of Electromagnetic Field (EMF) exposure of equipment so as to curb its debilitating effects.
Aim: To evaluate the level of awareness and perceived health risks of EMFs exposure (Radiation) among undergraduate students’ of various discipline.
Materials and Methods: The Health Belief Model (HBM) was used with descriptive cross-sectional research design from March 2017-November 2018 to evaluate awareness and perception of EMF radiation exposure. Structured questionnaire, focus group discussion and in-depth interviews with a predominantly 1-5 scale grading was applied in data collection. Data analysis was conducted using Statistical Package for Social Science (SPSS) version 14 with correlation coefficient (r) and Chi-square test (χ2) of p-value <0.05 as significant.
Results: A total of 576 undergraduate students from six tertiary institutions in Enugu State, Eastern Nigeria were recruited for the study. A total of 43% were males while 57% were females. Even though majority (93.9%) of the respondents rightly defined the meaning of EMF as a wave that transmits energy through space or material medium, only 34.6% had significant awareness of the radiation effect of this equipment. About 82% of respondents kept their telecommunication equipment close to their body thereby increasing exposure to EMF. The correlation coefficient (r) is 0.806 and the p-value <0.05 shows that there is a high positive relationship between risk reduction strategies like use of hand-free/ear piece etc., and level of awareness among students. There was significant positive correlation between awareness of EMF radiation and faculty of studies as well between perceived EMF risk and year of study (Each p-value <0.05).
Conclusion: Increase in the level of health education is a key to reduction of risk of EMF exposure (Radiation) among undergraduate telecommunication equipment users and this invariably applies to the entire general population.