|International Guidance Levels|
|EMR Issues - EMF/EMR General Information|
Note that it is very rare indeed for broadcast radio signals to exceed 1 V/m inside residences, with VHF/UHF ones rarely exceeding 0.05 V/m, being typically less than 0.01 V/m.
Mobile phones can work down to less than 0.00003 V/m.
Note also that The Power Flux Density (PFD) value only converts into the volts/metre value for continuous signals (like VHF FM radio signals). PFD, by its definition, relates to the average power (ICNIRP specifies that it should be averaged over 6 minutes) and is often much lower in mobile phone mast (etc) signals than is found in the short peak signal strength in the pulsing radiation. Most precautionary authorities believe that it is the peak power than matters and that the V/m figure should be taken as the peak value that should be allowed.
On the available evidence, signal strengths in bedrooms should be as low as possible and definitely below 0.05 V/m. The results from a study by some German GPs shows that adverse health symptoms were found in their patients at and above this level. See Powerwatch's Bamberg story. A Spanish study also found significant health effects by 0.05 V/m - See here for more information.
Levels below 0.05 V/m can be difficult to achieve, especially within a few hundred of metres of mobile phone masts. Some degree of screening is usually necessary.
It is easy to get confused by the many different units that are quoted. Here is a useful table, based on one found on the UK HPA-RPD website.
Note that while the HPA-RPD website is very good for physics based factual information, evidence is pointing towards the necessity for a far more precautionary response regarding involuntary human exposure needed than the one currently expressed in public by the UK's HPA-RPD.
Building Biologist Guidance Levels
Using the Gigahertz Solutions broadband meters for measurement of ULF (H&E) as well as microwave RF, the following guidance levels are provided:
Recommended Exposure Limit, Magnetic Fields: Below 200 nT, preferably below 20nT
Recommended Exposure Limit, AC Electric Fields: Below 10V/m, preferably below 1V/m
(Conversion nT to mG (Milligauss): 200 nT = 2 mG)
Source: ME 3 series manual
Building Biology Recommendations as per SBM-2008
Peak measurements, microwatts per meter squared
unconspicuous < 0.1
moderately 0.1 - 10
In fall 2008 the "Bund für Umwelt und Naturschutz Deutschland e.V." (BUND) (environmental NGO) recommends a limiting value of 1 µW/m² even for outdoor situations.
The Landessanitätsdirektion Salzburg (Austrian health authority) proposed already in 2002 to lower the present ”Salzburger Vorsorgewert“ (precautionary value) to 1 µW/m² for indoor situations.
Note for users of cellular phones: Even below 0.01 µW/m² communication is fully unimpaired.
The Bioinitiative Report
(contents modified in formatting, removal of typos etc for clarity)
Excerpt from SECTION 17 - KEY SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE AND PUBLIC HEALTH POLICY RECOMMENDATIONS IV. RECOMMENDED ACTIONS
A. Defining new exposure standards for ELF
This chapter concludes that new ELF limits are warranted based on a public health analysis of the overall existing scientific evidence. The public health view is that new ELF limits are needed now. They should reflect environmental levels of ELF that have been demonstrated to increase risk for childhood leukemia, and possibly other cancers and neurological diseases. ELF limits should be set below those exposure levels that have been linked in childhood leukemia studies to increased risk of disease, plus an additional safety factor. It is no longer acceptable to build new power lines and electrical facilities that place people in ELF environments that have been determined to be risky.
These levels are in the 2 to 4 milligauss* (mG) range (0.2 – 0.4 µT), not in the 10s of mG or 100s of mG.
The existing ICNIRP limit is 1000 mG (100 µT) and 904 mG (90.4 µT) in the US for ELF is outdated and based on faulty assumptions. These limits can no longer be said to be protective of public health and they should be replaced. A safety buffer or safety factor should also be applied to a new, biologically-based ELF limit, and the conventional approach is to add a safety factor lower than the risk level.
While new ELF limits are being developed and implemented, a reasonable approach would be a 1 mG (0.1 µT) planning limit for habitable space adjacent to all new or upgraded power lines and a 2 mG (0.2 µT) limit for all other new construction. It is also recommended for that a 1 mG (0.1 µT) limit be established for existing habitable space for children and/or women who are pregnant (because of the possible link between childhood leukemia and in utero exposure to ELF). This recommendation is based on the assumption that a higher burden of protection is required for children who cannot protect themselves, and who are at risk for childhood leukemia at rates that are traditionally high enough to trigger regulatory action. This situation in particular warrants extending the 1 mG (0.1 µT) limit to existing occupied space. "Establish" in this case probably means formal public advisories from relevant health agencies. While it is not realistic to reconstruct all existing electrical distribution systems, in the short term; steps to reduce exposure from these existing systems need to be initiated, especially in places where children spend time,
Avoiding chronic ELF exposure in schools, homes and the workplace above levels associated with increased risk of disease will also avoid most of the possible bioactive parameters of ELF discussed in the relevant literature. It is not prudent public health policy to wait any longer to adopt new public safety limits
B. Defining preventative actions for reduction in RF exposures
Given the scientific evidence at hand, the rapid deployment of new wireless technologies that chronically expose people to pulsed RF at levels reported to cause bioeffects, which in turn, could reasonably be presumed to lead to serious health impacts, is a public health concern. A public health action level that implements preventative action now is warranted, based on the collective evidence. There is suggestive to strongly suggestive evidence that RF exposures may cause changes in cell membrane function, cell
Resulting effects can include DNA breaks and chromosome aberrations, cell death including death of brain neurons, increased free radical production, activation of the endogenous opioid system, cell stress and premature aging, changes in brain function including memory loss, retarded learning, performance impairment in children, headaches and fatigue, sleep disorders, neurodegenerative conditions, reduction in
As early as 2000, some experts in bioelectromagnetics promoted a 0.1 µW/cm2 limit (which is 0.614 Volts per meter) for ambient outdoor exposure to pulsed RF, so generally in cities, the public would have adequate protection against involuntary exposure to pulsed radiofrequency (e.g., from cell towers, and other wireless technologies). The Salzburg Resolution of 2000 set a target of 0.1 µW/cm2 (or 0.614 V/m) for public exposure to pulsed radiofrequency. Since then, there are many credible anecdotal reports
This information now argues for thresholds or guidelines that are substantially below current FCC and ICNIPR standards for whole body exposure. Uncertainty about how low such standards might have to go to be prudent from a public health standpoint should not prevent reasonable efforts to respond to the information at hand. No lower limit for bioeffects and adverse health effects from RF has been established, so the possible health risks of wireless WLAN and WI-FI systems, for example, will require further research and no assertion of safety at any level of wireless exposure (chronic exposure) can be made at this time. The lower limit for reported human health effects has dropped 100-fold below the safety standard (for mobile phones and PDAs); 1000- to 10,000-fold for other wireless (cell towers at distance; WI-FI and WLAN devices). The entire basis for safety standards is called into question, and it is not unreasonable to question the safety of RF at any level.
A cautionary target level for pulsed RF exposures for ambient wireless that could be applied to RF sources from cell tower antennas, WI-FI, WI-MAX and other similar sources is proposed. The recommended cautionary target level is 0.1 microwatts per centimeter squared (µW/cm2)** (or 0.614 Volts per meter or V/m)** for pulsed RF where these exposures affect the general public; this advisory is proportionate to the evidence and in accord with prudent public health policy. A precautionary limit of 0.1 µW/cm2 should be adopted for outdoor, cumulative RF exposure. This reflects the current RF science and prudent public health response that would reasonably be set for pulsed RF (ambient) exposures where people live, work and go to school.
0.1 µW/cm2 = 1000 µW/m2= 614,000 µV/m
This level of RF is experienced as whole-body exposure, and can be a chronic exposure where there is wireless coverage present for voice and data transmission for cell phones, pagers and PDAs and other sources of radiofrequency radiation. An outdoor precautionary limit of 0.1 µW/cm2 would mean an even lower exposure level inside buildings, perhaps as low as 0.01 µW/cm2. Some studies and many anecdotal reports on ill health have been reported at lower levels than this; however, for the present time, it could prevent some of the most disproportionate burdens placed on the public nearest to such installations. Although this RF target level does not preclude further rollout of WI-FI technologies, we also recommend that wired alternatives to WIFI be implemented, particularly in schools and libraries so that children are not subjected to elevated RF levels until more is understood about possible health impacts. This recommendation should be seen as an interim precautionary limit that is intended to guide preventative actions; and more conservative limits may be needed in the future.
Broadcast facilities that chronically expose nearby residents to elevated RF levels from AM, FM and television antenna transmission are also of public health concern given the potential for very high RF exposures near these facilities (antenna farms). RF levels can be in the 10s to several 100’s of µW/cm2 in residential areas within half a mile of some broadcast sites (for example, Lookout Mountain, Colorado and Awbrey Butte, Bend, Oregon). Like wireless communication facilities, RF emissions from broadcast facilities that are located in, or expose residential populations and schools to elevated levels of RF will very likely need to be re-evaluated for safety.
For emissions from wireless devices (cell phones, personal digital assistant or PDA devices, etc) there is enough evidence for increased risk of brain tumors and acoustic neuromas now to warrant intervention with respect to their use. Redesign of cell phones and PDAs could prevent direct head and eye exposure, for example, by designing new units so that they work only with a wired headset or on speakerphone mode.
These effects can reasonably be presumed to result in adverse health effects and disease with chronic and uncontrolled exposures, and children may be particularly vulnerable. The young are also largely unable to remove themselves from such environments. Second-hand radiation, like second-hand smoke is an issue of public health concern based on the evidence at hand.
New Recommended Exposure Standards
The Seletun Panel recommends global governments adopt the following exposure guidelines to protect public health and the health of future generations.
Extremely Low Frequency Fields:
• Exposure Limit Recommended. Based on the available evidence, the Seletun Scientific Panel recommends a 0.1 uT (1 mG) exposure limit for extremely low frequency (fields from electrical power) for all new installations, such as powerlines, indoor electric appliances, house-hold items, TVs, radios, computers, and telecommunication devices, based on findings of risk for leukemia, brain tumours, Alzheimer’s, ALS, sperm damage and DNA strand breaks. This exposure limit does not include a safety margin, but starts right at the level where hazardous effects are found. The new recommendation is approx. 1,000 – 10,000 times lower than the current ICNIRP/IEEE standards;
• Set-Back Distance. For all newly installed, or newly upgraded electrical power distribution, the Panel recommends a 0.1 uT (1 mG) set-back distance, from residences, hospitals, schools, parks, and playgrounds schools (and similar locations occupied by children) ; this set-back distance easily can amount to 50 meters or more;
• Maximum 24-Hour Exposure Limit. For all newly constructed residences, offices, schools (and other facilities with children), and hospitals there shall be a 0.1 uT (1 mG) max. 24 hour average exposure limit;
Radiofrequency and Microwave Radiation:
Regarding radiofrequency/microwave radiation, the present guidelines, such as IEEE, FCC, and ICNIRP, are not adequate to protect humans from harmful effects of chronic EMF exposure. It is now instead recommended that:
• For whole-body (in vivo experiments) or cell culture-based exposure, 33 µW//kg. It is approx. 2,400 times lower than the current ICNIRP/FCC standards. No further safety margin or provision for sensitive populations, such as immune-compromised patients or persons with the functional impairment electrohypersensitivity, is incorporated. This may need to be lowered in the future.
• Based on power density measurements, IEMFA’s Seletun Scientific Panel finds sufficient evidence for a whole-body scientific benchmark for adverse health effect exists down to 0.17 mW/m2 (also 0.000017 mW/cm2 = 0.017 µW/cm2). It is approx. 50,000 – 60,000 times lower than the current ICNIRP/FCC standards.This may need to be lowered in the future.
• The Seletun Scientific Panel acknowledges that numeric limits derived here for new biologically-based public exposure standards are still a billion times higher than natural EMF levels at which all life evolved. It is a serious mistake to believe that we have always lived in man-made electromagnetic fields, such as from electrical power, radio, TV, computers, and wireless telecommunication, and therefore should not worry. It was not long ago when people thought that X-rays, radioactivity, strong ultraviolet light and radar were completely without harm. Nowadays we know much better!
Also see Salzburg Table on Guidances & Conversions.