Topic updated: August 2012

Electromagnetic Fields

What are electric and magnetic fields?

Electric and magnetic fields (EMFs) are invisible lines of force associated with the production, transmission, and use of electric power such as those associated with high-voltage transmission lines, secondary power lines, and home wiring and lighting. Electric and magnetic fields also arise from the motors and heating coils found in electronic equipment and appliances.

Because the use of electric power is so widespread, humans are constantly exposed to electric and magnetic fields. Studies conducted in the 1980s showed a link between magnetic field strength and the risk of childhood leukemia. After reviewing more than two decades of research in this area, NIEHS scientists have concluded that the overall pattern of results suggests a weak association between increasing exposure to EMFs and an increased risk of childhood leukemia. The few studies that have been conducted on adult exposures show no evidence of a link between residential EMF exposure and adult cancers, including leukemia, brain cancer, and breast cancer. Based on these reviews, the NIEHS recommends continued education on practical ways of reducing exposures to EMFs.

Read the rest of this excellent booklet on electromagnetic fields.

power lines

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