Research Findings on EMF Exposure

We, like other utilities, rely on the assessment of scientific and public health expert panels which conduct EMF research and monitor this issue to evaluate potential health risks.  Over 30 years of extensive data have been evaluated by international and national organizations including the World Health Organization  (WHO), the International Agency for Research on Cancer (PDF) (IARC), the U.S. National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences (PDF) (NIEHS) and the U.S. National Academy of Sciences.

Key findings are listed below and in-depth reports can be found on their respective Web sites.

“Based on a comprehensive evaluation of published studies relating to the effects of power-frequency electric and magnetic fields on cells, tissues, and organisms (including humans), the conclusion of the committee is that the current body of evidence does not show that exposure to these fields presents a human-health hazard. Specifically, no conclusive and consistent evidence shows that exposures to residential electric and magnetic fields produce cancer, adverse neurobehavioral effects, or reproductive and developmental effects.”

National Research Council Academy of Sciences
Committee on the Possible Effects of Electromagnetic Fields on Biologic System
(Possible Health Effects of Exposure to Residential Electric and Magnetic fields, 1997)

“The NIEHS believes that the probability that ELF-EMF exposure is truly a health hazard is currently small.   The weak epidemiological associations and lack of any laboratory support for these associations provide only marginal, scientific support that exposure to this agent is causing any degree of harm.

The NIEHS concludes that ELF-EMF exposure cannot be recognized as entirely safe because of weak scientific evidence that exposure may pose a leukemia hazard. In our opinion, this finding is insufficient to warrant aggressive regulatory concern.

The National Toxicology Program routinely examines environmental exposures to determine the degree to which they constitute a human cancer risk and produces the “Report on Carcinogens” listing agents that are “known human carcinogens” or “reasonably anticipated to be human carcinogens.” It is our opinion that based on evidence to date, ELF-EMF exposure would not be listed in the “Report on Carcinogens” as an agent “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen.”

National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
PDF NIEHS Report on Health Effects from Exposure to Power-Line Frequency Electric and Magnetic Fields,
U.S. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (1999) NIH Publication No. 99-4493

"Scientific evidence suggesting that everyday, chronic low-intensity (above 0.3 - 0.4 μT) power-frequency magnetic field exposure poses a health risk is based on epidemiological studies demonstrating a consistent pattern of increased risk for childhood leukemia. Uncertainties in the hazard assessment include the role that control selection bias and exposure misclassification might have on the observed relationship between magnetic fields and childhood leukemia. In addition, virtually all of the laboratory evidence and the mechanistic evidence fail to support a relationship between low-level ELF magnetic fields and changes in biological function or disease status. Thus, on balance, the evidence is not strong enough to be considered causal, but sufficiently strong to remain a concern. 

A number of other diseases have been investigated for possible association with ELF magnetic field exposure. These include cancers in children and adults, depression, suicide, reproductive dysfunction, developmental disorders, immunological modifications and neurological disease. The scientific evidence supporting a linkage between ELF magnetic fields and any of these diseases is much weaker than for childhood leukemia and in some cases (for example, for cardiovascular disease or breast cancer) the evidence is sufficient to give confidence that magnetic fields do not cause the disease.

...Furthermore, given both the weakness of the evidence for a link between exposure to ELF magnetic fields and childhood leukemia, and the limited impact on public health if there is a link, the benefits of exposure reduction on health are unclear. Thus the costs of precautionary measures should be very low."

World Health Organization
Extremely Low Frequency Fields Environmental Health Criteria Monograph No.238, 2007

"This review indicates that there is no convincing evidence in the published literature to support the contention that exposures to extremely low frequency electric and magnetic fields (ELF-EMF) generated by sources such as household appliances, video display terminals, and local power lines are demonstrable health hazards."

Utah Radiation Control Board
Excerpt from executive summary by Panel from Oak Ridge Associated Universities for the Committee on Interagency Radiation Research and Policy Coordination