EMF Safety Levels in Homes and Residences – A Commentary
I had a question recently after performing a survey where my prognosis was essentially: “There is no reason for excessive concern regarding EMF fields with respect to this property.”
This seemed like a sufficiently concise response, and yet I got a response back that was along the lines of this:
“You didn’t mention any range of values like highest and lowest safest values in your report. Can you please let us know the range.”
A very good question and this was my response:
The reason I did not put a range is because there is no such thing as a hard, rigid number as to what is safe or unsafe because there are so many factors involved.
If I told you that 3 milliGauss (mG) is the safe limit, that implies that 2.97 mG is perfectly fine and 3.04 mG is dangerous which would not be a true statement.
While I believe EMF fields have an effect on the human body, it is fairly weak in typical fields found in everyday life because the human body compensates for a variety of conditions in a continuous process called homeostasis. Also by focusing too much on the magnetic fields you will have a tendency to overlook more established and dangerous conditions such as radon gas, poor indoor air quality, antibiotic resistant bacteria, mold, mosquito and tick borne viruses and diseases, etc.
EMF fields do not behave like chemicals which have fairly well established dosages and exposure levels set by government agencies and scientists such as the LD50 (Lethal Dose 50 %) or STEL. (Short Term Exposure Level) There are variables such as frequency, peak levels, time of exposure and susceptibility of the individual which is based on genetics, immune system function and so on.
What I do is survey a property and compare it to other places that I measure and look more at orders of magnitude rather than a 1-2 milliGauss difference.
Do you know what the level of the fields are in the place you live in now?
Are you aware of what are typical and ordinary values of magnetic fields in other suburban (or urban) homes in the area?
Many homes I have surveyed in the certain urban areas have average interior values of 5 – 8 mG (due to increased power density and decreased utility easement distances) and there are a few homes where I have found 10 – 35 mG. Standing or driving beneath a high power line will have a value of anywhere from 2 – 290 mG so the difference between 1 mG in a home and 2 mG in a home is relatively small in the context and scale of how much fields can and do vary. In deciding what house to live in, you can spend a lot of time and effort trying to find a place that has a lower level like 0.3 mG – 0.5 mG (which is very close to as low as you can get without having electricity at all) but that does not really mean that the home is safer overall to live in for the reasons and risk factors I mentioned above.
There are some environmental factors where a slight change is very noticeable and important to comfort such as temperature – some people find 69 F to be comfortable, but others prefer 72 F. On a planet where temperatures range from below 0 degrees to over 100, that is very small (a few percent difference) but important.
EMF fields are not like that as at the 1 – 2 mG level for example, there is hardly any range left to decrease to 0.0 mG as you are already close to the bottom in what is known as ALARA. (As Low As Reasonably Achievable) Even though 2 mG is 100 % higher than 1 mG and may seem like a large increase, the health risk levels do not behave in a LINEAR fashion as you might find with known toxins. At the worst, it is better to view EMF levels on more of a logarithmic scale (powers of 10) rather than integer multiples.
But in respect to your request I will give you some ranges that in my opinion are fine for where people spend 90 % of their time or more, but I have to emphasize the most of the time part because I do not feel it is beneficial for people to be scared if for a fraction of the time (for instance, even 20 hours a week) the magnetic field exceeds these numbers. Also EMF meters do not always agree with each other because of design and frequency weighting.
Finally, the stress of worrying about EMF causes more damage on average than the EMF field itself as stress itself is a proven health hazard. If you are afraid, children pick up on those emotions and it definitely impacts them. It is good to be concerned and make informed decisions, but I caution people against letting fear overtake common sense and practicality.
And with that thought in mind, one of the unifying concepts I have observed in working with thousands of clients is if they are concerned enough to pay to have an EMF survey because they care that much about their family, they are already doing a lot of the right things to protect themselves and those they love.
EMF EMI Testing Magnetic – Electric Field – RF Radiation NIRAD : PART 1
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Thank you for this information, I have similar questions but more in regard to a nearby cell tower and measurements taken in uW/m2. We have done many things in our home to try to lower levels created by us and shield levels from the tower (apparently the main source). We cannot get bedroom levels below 15-70 uW/m2. How does this compare to what you usually see and what would you recommend to such homeowners? Thank you!
I only do commercial and industrial safety and risk consulting at this juncture, but for what it is worth, I do not observe any adverse health risk from the RF levels you are conveying which are pretty typical for any country with a communication infrastructure. Thank you for understanding in advance!
Hi, I notice you mention in the article that you can give some ranges that are fine for where people spend 90 % of their time or more, but I don’t see those ranges listed. Can you let me know for a residential setting? We are approx. 600 feet from big power lines at my house.
An excellent question and one that is taking longer to answer than I anticipated. Currently I am researching all guidelines (there are some new ones) and listing those in the meantime while I decide what are acceptable exposure ranges without needlessly alarming people as other EMF “consultants” too often do either through well intended ignorance or willful profiting off of the fears of homeowners.
In the meantime you can check my progress here:
BTW, at 600 feet there is negligible influence in terms of AC magnetic EMF from any large power lines. The primary influence is the secondary feeders that electrify your home. More information is found here:
JAG of ScanTech