There have been numerous studies published on Electro Magnetic Fields (EMF), which indicate that extremely low frequency magnetic emissions may present serious health risks. Occupational exposure to these emissions has been associated with elevated death rates due to leukemia, brain tumours, an across-the-board decline in the immune response system, other cancers, as well as, central nervous system concerns. Exposure during pregnancy has been associated with significant increases of miscarriage and increases in infant mortality. It has also been associated with an increase in suicide.
Where do EMF come from? — Electricity is the unseen helper of our times. It’s taken for granted most of the time but it may be harming us. EMF is stronger relative to the strength of current, and its intensity falls off quickly with distance from the source. If currents leaving and entering are a home not equal, an “inequity” can create a magnetic field along the service drop — where the electricity is fed into the house. Commonly, the current enters the home by way of a transformer on a hydro pole which reduces the voltage to the service drop and on through to the meter. From here it travels throughout the home’s wiring, receptacles, fixtures, appliances, etc. It then returns through the electrical panel to exit back to the pole on the street. Some current can even travel along the grounding wire attached to the home’s water pipes. This can in turn travel underground to the next home. Homes located near high voltage overhead transmission lines can be a concern as well, as lighting rods are typically attached to them. The electric power industry is looking for ways to reduce the publics’ exposure to the lines’ magnetic fields. Currently there have been no acceptable levels of EMF emissions set down by any governing bodies in North America.
How serious can EMF be? — While we are still unsure about the effects of EMF certain precautions are being taken. In July 1991 the Swedish government adopted standards restricting emissions from computer monitors. In 1992, the Karolinska Institute in Sweden released a study showing a connection between proximity to power lines and various cancers, most notably childhood leukemia. The New York City Board of Education adopted even stronger restrictions. The East York (Toronto area) Board of Education permanently closed a kindergarten room and moved to a portable. The Toronto Board of Health formally adopted a policy for avoidance in 1993. In 2002, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and part of the World Health Organization (WHO) concluded that: “ELF magnetic fields are possibly carcinogenic to humans, based on consistent statistical associations of high level residential magnetic fields with a doubling of risk of childhood leukaemia. Children who are exposed to residential ELF magnetic fields less than 0.4 microTesla have no increased risk for leukaemia.”
Some common household items that can produce EMF include — Microwave Oven, Electric Range, Heated Aquariums, Plug-in Analog Clocks, Blow Dryer, Heated Waterbed, Electric Blanket, Electric Baseboard Heat, Table Fan, Fluorescent Light, Cellular Phone, Electric Space Heater, Computer Monitor, Knob & Tube wiring.
What can you do? — Large scale studies now underway may eventually resolve some of the uncertainties left by early research. Until the final results are available, be informed about EMF, test & monitor regularly for its presence and practice prudent avoidance.