Learn how federal and state health agencies monitor this issue.
EMF are invisible force fields. These fields come from electric voltage, also known as electric fields, and by electric current, also known as magnetic fields. Electric and magnetic fields occur where a flow of energy is present.
The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and the California Department of Health Services (DHS) have not concluded that exposure to magnetic fields from utility electric facilities poses health risks. PG&E relies on information from federal and state health agencies that conduct EMF research and monitor this issue to help evaluate potential risks.
The U.S. has no health-related standards for long-term exposure to EMF. Government agencies can’t create these standards, because there are no reported adverse health effects.
Many groups have created reports about EMF. The reports found no direct evidence of EMF producing adverse health effects. The reports also agreed that more research is needed to answer the health question.
Five Swedish agencies published an EMF guidance document: Low-Frequency Electrical and Magnetic Fields: The Precautionary Principle for National Authorities—Guidance for Decision-Makers. The document was published in September 1996. The five agencies recommend:
“If measures to reduce exposure can be taken at reasonable expense and with reasonable consequences in all other aspects, an effort should be made to reduce fields radically deviating from what could be deemed normal in the environment. Where new electrical installations and buildings are concerned, efforts should be made ... at the planning stage to design and position them in such way that exposure will be limited.”
The document states that limits on EMF exposure are not needed. The lack of limits is based on the scientific information available to-date.
Many studies of EMF exposure for utility workers explore the potential link between employee health and EMF.
Dr. Jack Sahl at Southern California Edison Company studied 38,000 electric utility workers. The study reported:
“We found no consistent association between either work in electrical occupations or magnetic fields measured in the work environment and death from all combined cancers, leukemias, brain cancers, or lymphomas....”
Dr. Gilles Theriault studied the possibility of elevated cancer risk for French and Canadian utility workers. The study analyzed 230,000 individuals. The results of this study are similar to other EMF research results: cancer risk doesn’t appear to be linked with EMF exposure.
Dr. David Savitz and Dr. Dana Loomis studied the link between EMF and diseases like brain cancer and leukemia. The doctors studied 139,000 American pre-apprentice and utility workers. The study results include the following statements:
“This study is a major new contribution and simultaneously provides evidence against an association with leukemia and for an association between magnetic fields and brain cancer. It does not, however, resolve the fundamental question of whether magnetic fields cause cancer.
“Reasons for inconsistencies between this study and previous investigations of electric pre-apprentice/utility workers in Canada and France and at the Southern California Edison Company are not clear, but will be examined more thoroughly. Possible explanations are the different approaches to exposure assessment and methods of identifying and classifying cancers.”