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NIOSH - National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health

NIOSH Safety and Health Topic:

EMF (Electric and Magnetic Fields)

NIOSH research on protecting workers from proven and possible EMF health risks focuses on:

  • RF (radio frequencies) --including broadcast antennas, induction heaters, and cell telephones

  • ELF (extremely low frequencies) --including AC electricity and video display terminals (VDTs)

  • Static Magnetic Fields --including DC electricity.

CDC/NIOSH Publications on EMF

Frequently Asked Questions about Cell Phones and Your Health
this document in PDF PDF only 94 KB (2 pages)
This CDC fact sheet answers questions about possible health effects from the radiation emitted by cellular phones. (2005)

Manual for Measuring Occupational Electric and Magnetic Field Exposures
NIOSH Publication No. 98-154 (1998)
This technical document is a reference manual for industrial hygienists and researchers who measure occupational exposures to static and ELF EMF.

NIOSH Publication on Video Display Terminals
NIOSH Publication No. 99-135 (3rd ed., 1999)
This publication is a collection of NIOSH studies and statements on all kinds of health effects from working with VDTs, including studies which found no link between their EMF emissions and reproductive effects.

RF Fields

Frequently Asked Questions about Cell Phones and Your Health
this document in PDF PDF only 94 KB (2 pages)
This CDC fact sheet answers questions about possible health effects from the radiation emitted by cellular phones. (2005)

OSHA: Radiofrequency/Microwave Radiation
External Link: http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/radiofrequencyradiation/index.html
Information on the recognition, evaluation, and control of RF/MW radiation.

Federal Communications Commission (FCC): Radio Frequency Safety
External Link: http://www.fcc.gov/oet/rfsafety/
Information and health standards for consumers and broadcasters on wireless communications, including cellular telephones and amateur radios.

Food and Drug Administration (FDA):  Electronic Products Which Emit Radiation
External Link: http://www.fda.gov/cdrh/comp/eprc.html
Information for consumers and manufacturers on microwave ovens, video display terminals, etc.

FDA/FCC:  Consumer Update on Mobile Phones
External Link: http://www.fda.gov/cellphones/
FDA site with answers to frequently-asked questions about potential health risks from using mobile telephones and research on this question.

National Radiation Protection Board in Great Britain: A Summary of Recent Reports on Mobile Phones and Health (2000–2004)
NRPB-W65 (2005)
External Link: http://www.hpa.org.uk/web/HPAwebFile/HPAweb_C/1194947376017
This British report reviews studies of brain cancer and neurological effects from the use of cell phones health and highlights any commonality or differences in opinion.

National Radiation Protection Board in Great Britain: Health Effects from Radiofrequency Electromagnetic Fields: Report of an independent Advisory Group on Non-ionising Radiation
NRPB Documents Volume 14, No. 2 (2003)
External Linkhttp://www.hpa.org.uk/web/HPAwebFile/HPAweb_C/1194947334474
This report examines possible health effects of exposure to RF fields, with an emphasis on studies conducted since the report Mobile Phones and Health by the Independent Expert Group on Mobile Phones Chair Sir William Stewart (2000). The Stewart report was one of the first government reviews on possible health effects from cell phones. It recommended precautionary measures to protect the public health.

ELF and Static EMF

Risk Assessment and Risk Management Five major evaluations of the evidence for health risks from exposures to occupational and residential ELF-EMF have been published since 1999. Four of them were accompanied by statements on managing EMF exposures and directions for future research.

OSHA: Extremely Low Frequency (ELF) Radiation
External Link: http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/elfradiation/index.html
Information on the recognition, evaluation, and control of ELF radiation.

OSHA: Computer Workstations
External Link: http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/computerworkstation/solutions.html
This page briefly examines the potential hazards and interventions employers can use to prevent or reduce the potential harmful effects of working with computers.

NIOSH Fact Sheet: EMFs in the Workplace
NIOSH Publication No. 96-129 (1996)
En Español
This fact sheet answers frequently-asked questions about extremely low frequency (ELF) EMFs in the workplace. This publication can help identify EMF sources at work and suggests simple steps for reducing exposures.

EMF Questions and Answers: Electric and Magnetic Fields Associated with the Use of Electric Power
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences publication (2002)
External Link: http://www.niehs.nih.gov/health/docs/emf-02.pdf
This NIEHS booklet written with input from NIOSH provides in-depth information about ELF-EMF exposures in homes, workplaces, and transportation. It also describes what researchers have learned about the health effects of EMFs and identifies some methods for managing exposures.

NIOSH Documents on ELF-EMF Research

Proceedings of NIOSH/DOE Workshop on "EMF Exposure Assessment and Epidemiology: Hypotheses, Metrics, and Measurements"
NTIS Publication No. PB 2000-101086 (2000)
this document in PDF PDF only 2,882 KB (192 pages)
This workshop proposed new methods for measuring ELF-EMF exposures and designs for epidemiologic studies that might explain associations with cancer and other diseases. These new ideas for health studies came from hypothesized biophysical mechanisms for ways occupational and residential EMF might affect the human body.

Manual for Measuring Occupational Electric and Magnetic Field Exposures
NIOSH Publication No. 98-154 (1998)
This technical document is a reference manual for industrial hygienists and researchers who measure occupational exposures to static and ELF EMF.

NIOSH Publication on Video Display Terminals
NIOSH Publication No. 99-135 (3rd ed., 1999)
This publication is a collection of NIOSH studies and statements on all kinds of health effects from working with VDTs, including studies which found no link between their EMF emissions and reproductive effects.

EMF Databases

Job Exposure Matrix (JEM) for Power-Frequency Magnetic Fields
This site contains Excel® spreadsheets developed by NIOSH to assess exposures to ELF magnetic fields by occupational categories. By using the 1980 Standard Occupational Classifications (SOC) or the 1980 U.S. Census categories, this JEM can be linked to mortality and morbidity databases for epidemiologic studies (Bowman et al., 2006).

EMF RAPID program:  EMF Measurement Database
External Link: http://www.emf-data.org/
This site contains six databases of EMF measurements taken in homes and workplaces.  The data is thoroughly annotated and can be downloaded in various forms.

Worker Notification Program

Through the NIOSH Worker Notification Program, NIOSH notifies workers and other stakeholders about the findings of past research studies related to a wide variety of exposures. The links below present archival materials sent to participants in studies related to EMF from video display terminals.

Links to Other EMF Sites

OSHA:  Extremely Low Frequency (ELF) Radiation
External Link: http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/elfradiation/index.html
Information on the recognition, evaluation, and control of ELF radiation.

OSHA: Radiofrequency/Microwave Radiation
External Link: http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/radiofrequencyradiation/index.html
Information on the recognition, evaluation, and control of RF/MW radiation.

OSHA: Computer Workstations
External Link: http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/computerworkstation/solutions.html
This page briefly examines the potential hazards and interventions employers can use to prevent or reduce the potential harmful effects of working with computers.

Federal Communications Commission (FCC):  Radio Frequency Safety
External Link: http://www.fcc.gov/oet/rfsafety/
Information and health standards for consumers and broadcasters on wireless communications, including cellular telephones and amateur radios.

Food and Drug Administration (FDA):  Electronic Products Which Emit Radiation
External Link: http://www.fda.gov/cdrh/comp/eprc.html
Information for consumers and manufacturers on microwave ovens, video display terminals, etc.

FDA/FCC:  Consumer Update on Mobile Phones
External Link: http://www.fda.gov/cellphones/
FDA site with answers to frequently-asked questions about potential health risks from using mobile telephones and research on this question.

Health Protection Agency in Great Britain: Electromagnetic Fields
External Link: http://www.hpa.org.uk/webw/HPAweb&Page&HPAwebAutoListName/Page/1158934607698
?p=1158934607698

Information, research publications, and the United Kingdom’s health standards on many sources of RF and ELF electromagnetic fields:  cordless phones, cell phones, wireless local are networks (WLANs), WiFi networks, electric substations, power lines, and amateur radios.

World Health Organization (WHO):  International EMF Project
External Link: http://www.who.int/peh-emf/en/
Provides a collection of fact sheets and other resources concerning health effects of exposure to RF and ELF electromagnetic fields.

Page last updated: June 3, 2009
Page last reviewed: June 1, 2009
Content Source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) Division of Applied Research and Technology

EMF (Electric and Magnetic Fields)

current passing through a magnetic field

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