Everyone in modern society is exposed to electric and magnetic fields (EMFs) that exist around all electric or electronic devices. Recently, scientific studies have raised questions about potential health effects of these fields. There is hot debate over the level of exposure that presents a safety risk. In the interim, as this question is examined, various national and international agencies have established workable minimum levels of exposure to EMFs. The International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (ICNIRP) (www.incirp.de) has taken the lead in this effort over the past decade. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) also is active in monitoring the situation.
EMF Sources: Cell Phones, Power Lines, and Just About Everything
EMFs are created whenever electricity is used by cell phones, power lines, wiring, and appliances or equipment. People in the vicinity can be exposed to both electric and magnetic fields. The effects depend on which field is present, as well as the strength of the field. For instance, workers can be exposed to high magnetic fields if they work near electrical systems that use large amounts of electric power, such as large electrical motors. Higher frequencies (above 60 hertz) create the potential for exposure to high electric fields, such as those present near radio transmitters, industrial process systems, or even CRT displays.
EMF Exposure: Ongoing Studies
Thanks to the efforts of NIOSH and ICNIRP, many experts are working to identify such fields in the workplace and post warning signs wherever the fields exist. Efforts are also underway to train workers in dealing with these fields and to evaluate workers’ exposure to EMFs.
LSR has taken an active interest in this area and has performed these field evaluations. We have also been active in helping to write new standards for workplace safety regarding exposure to EMFs.