Published studies from around the world have linked electromagnetic fields (EMFs) to increased risks for several types of cancer, as well as increased stress, suppression of the immune system, cellular and hormone changes, and even depression and suicide. In fact, several thousand studies have reported biological effects related to EMFs.
Some of the specific illnesses include leukemia, lymphoma, brain tumors, melanoma, breast cancer, asthma, Alzheimer’s disease, Lou Gehrig’s disease, miscarriage and birth defects. Anecdotally, EMFs are often associated with sleep problems, headache, fatigue, anxiety, mental confusion, irritability, memory loss, dizziness, itchy or burning skin, tinnitus, and other symptoms.
There are three main kinds of EMFs. All three types have been linked to important biological effects. And each type of EMF is measured with a different kind of test instrument…
ELF Magnetic FieldsNote 2 are the particular EMF component most often linked to serious health effects – such as childhood leukemia and other cancers – in the research studies. Common sources include electric power lines, electrical wiring, lighting fixtures, electric appliances and most electrical devices. Wiring problems and stray electrical current in metal pipes can also create surprisingly high levels. Magnetic fields are measured with an ELF gaussmeter, in units of “milligauss” (mG).
ELF Electric FieldsNote 2 are also linked to important biological effects, but have been studied less. Anecdotally, they are often involved when people feel “sensitive” to electromagnetic fields. Common sources include hidden electrical wiring, power cords for lamps and devices, and power lines. Electric fields create unnatural electric voltages on the skin, which can be measured with a Body Voltage Meter, in units of “Volts AC” (V).
RF Fields (radio frequency fields, includes microwaves) have been linked to various types of cancer, tumors and health effects similar to the ELF fields. RF fields are commonly emitted from modern wireless and electronic equipment – cell towers, cell phones, cordless telephones, wireless computers, Wi-Fi routers, baby monitors, Smart Meters, TV and radio broadcast towers, microwave ovens, radar, etc. They are measured with an RF meter, usually in units of “microwatts per centimeter squared” (μW/cm²). Note 3
Special Note: There is still great controversy about the potential health effects from EMFs. Please refer to the proper medical authorities and scientific research literature to make your own decisions regarding health effects and safety levels.1 The attached “What EMF Level Is Safe?”page shows some of the more common EMF exposure guidelines that you may wish to consider.4
Note 1 I am engineer and not a medical doctor. I cannot diagnose or treat any EMF-related health concerns. Please consult with your own doctor or other health professional regarding EMF exposure guidelines.
Note 2 Extremely-Low-Frequency or “ELF” is the EMF frequency range which includes the common 60 hertz (60 cycles-per-second) electric utility power used in the US/Canada and the 50 Hz power in Europe.
Note 3 When RF frequencies are also added to the ELF magnetic and electric fields due to the use of electronic dimmers, fluorescent lights, computers, Smart Meters, etc., this is called “Dirty Electricity”.
Note 4 Some of this information is anecdotal, based on my 22 years of professional experience with clients.
“Possible Safety Levels To Consider”3 Types of EMF→ (See attached page for more information)
ELF Magnetic Fields
ELF Electric Fields
Radio Frequency (RF) & Microwaves
Unit of Measurement in USA(Abbreviation)
AC Volts on skin (VAC)
Lowest Level Linked to Cancer See Notes 5 & 6
1.0 (2.0) Note 5
0.2 Note 6
Average Level in Homes See Note 7
0.5 to 1.0
0.5 to 2.0
0.0001 to 0.5
Building Biology Severe Concern See Note 8
BioInitiative 2012 Report See Note 9
General Public Precautionary Level See Note 10
1.0 (sleep 0.5)
EMF Hypersensitivity Advice See Note 11
1.0 (sleep 0.5)
0.0001 or less
Official FCC Safety Limit See Note 12
1000 Note 13
ICNIRP Guidelines for General Public See Note
1000 Note 13
What Are the Health Concerns?
5 The Lowest Level Linked to Cancer for Magnetic Fields:The strongest evidence comes from the Swedish epidemiological study which reported increased leukemia for children at levels of 2.0 mG or more (Feychting&Ahlbom, 1993). And a German study has linked exposures as low as 1.0 mG to reduced survival rates for children trying to recover from leukemia (Svendsen, Weikopf, Kaatsch&Schuz, 2007).
6 The Lowest Level Linked to Cancer for RF is from two Australian studies of radio/TV broadcast towers that found increased childhood leukemia at levels as low as 0.2 microwatts/cm². The first (Hocking, 1996) found that leukemia death rates were more than double for the exposed children. The second (Hocking, 2000) found that children trying to recover from leukemia were twice as likely to survive in alower exposure home.
7 The Average Level in Homes for magnetic fields is derived from nationwide research studies and confirmed in my own testing experience. The average levels for electric fields and RF fields are estimates from my own 22 years of professional testing in the San Francisco Bay area.
10 The General Public Precautionary Level is my own offering to healthy concerned clients based on my own understanding of the EMF research, and leaning towards caution. For example for magnetic fields, to offer some margin of safety below the 1.0 mG linked to cancer, I might suggest a safety level of 0.5 mG.
11 The EMF Hypersensitivity Advisoryis based upon anecdotal experience by EMF professionals like myself who often find it necessary to reduce exposures to these levels for sensitive individuals to report relief of symptoms. However, there is no guarantee that these levels will be low enough for any particular person.