EMF Health Assessment and RF Safety

EPRI Electric and Magnetic Fields Research

Electric and magnetic fields (EMF) exist wherever electricity is present. Electric power lines and substations, electrical wiring, household appliances, and electrical equipment all produce EMF. EMF also occur naturally in the environment.

During the last 35 years, research at the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) and elsewhere has investigated whether EMF associated with electricity can cause biologic changes or affect health. Hundreds of studies have been reviewed in health risk evaluations by the World Health Organization and other national and international organizations concerned with public health.

Recent evaluations concluded that in epidemiologic studies, exposure to magnetic fields measuring 0.3–0.4 microtesla (3–4 milligauss) or more is weakly associated with childhood leukemia risk. However, the evaluations concluded that other factors could account for the association and that the overall scientific evidence does not support a cause-and-effect relationship. Health risk evaluation panels found weaker evidence for an association between EMF and several other health outcomes, including adult leukemia, adult brain cancer, miscarriage, and the neurodegenerative diseases amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s disease) and Alzheimer disease.

EPRI EMF Health Assessment and RF Safety Program research is addressing childhood leukemia and other high-priority health issues identified in EMF health risk evaluations. The program’s research includes:

  • investigating hypotheses that could plausibly explain the magnetic field–childhood leukemia association
  • investigating EMF and other electrical factors in relation to neurodegenerative diseases
  • investigating the scientific basis for occupational EMF exposure guidelines
  • monitoring studies of EMF interference with cardiac pacemakers and other implanted medical devices
  • investigating EMF exposure levels that are present in electric motor vehicles

A few years ago, the program expanded to include research and information on safety issues for workers exposed to radio-frequency (RF) fields near telecommunications facilities and equipment.

EPRI is the only organization in North America funding long-term, multidisciplinary EMF research. To ensure objective results, EPRI carries out much of this research through sponsorship of independent scientists affiliated with major universities, laboratories, and consulting organizations. In addition, an external, blue-ribbon scientific advisory committee provides guidance for the EMF program’s research activities. Research findings are published in peer-reviewed journals.

In keeping with its mandate to conduct scientific research for the benefit of societies throughout the world, EPRI is continuing the search for answers to questions about EMF and health.


… thank you Angela Flynn for bringing this to our attention.

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