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with these medical devices at 60 Hz (the frequency
of most transmission lines) is 1,000 mG for magnetic
fields and 1 kV/m for electric fields. Nonelectronic
metallic implants (artificial limbs, screws, pins, etc.)
can be affected by high magnetic fields like those
produced by MRI devices but are generally
unaffected by the fields produced by most sources.
Sources and useful links
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How can I reduce my exposure to EMF?
Remember, your exposure is determined by the
strength of the magnetic fields given off by things
around you, your distance from the source and how
much time you spend in the field. Standing back –
even an arm’s length away – from appliances that
are in use is a simple first step. Some suggestions:
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Move motor-driven electric clocks or other
electrical devices away from your bed.
Be aware that motorized appliances (e.g.,
hair dryers, shavers, fans, vacuum cleaners,
air conditioners) produce magnetic fields.
Stand away from operating appliances that
use a lot of electricity.
Sit a few feet away from the TV and at least an
arm’s length from the computer screen. Liquid
crystal or plasma displays (LCDs), however,
produce very low levels of EMF compared to
the older cathode-ray tube (CRT) displays.
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Turn off appliances, like computer monitors,
when you’re not using them.
Great River Energy
12300 Elm Creek Boulevard
Maple Grove, MN 55369
763-445-5000
Wisconsin Public Service Commission white
paper on EMF: psc.wi.gov/thelibrary/
publications/electric/electric12.pdf
National Institute of Environmental Health
Sciences (NIEHS) booklet, EMF: Electric and
Magnetic Fields Associated with the Use of
Electric Power. Find it and other links at
www.niehs.nih.gov/health/topics/agents/emf/
Minnesota Department of Health – Minnesota
Interagency Working Group on EMF Issues:
A White Paper on Electric and Magnetic Field
Policy and Mitigation Options. Find it at
http://www.greatriverenergy.com/delivering
electricity/faqs/mndohwhitepaperemf.pdf
Western Area Power Administration: Electric
and Magnetic Fields: Facts. Find it at
http://ww2.wapa.gov/sites/western/
newsroom/Documents/pdf/EMFbook.pdf
World Health Organization Fact Sheet:
Electromagnetic fields and public health. Find it
at www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs322/
en/index.html. Find other general information
on EMF at www.who.int/peh-emf/en/
American Cancer Society: Information about
non-ionizing radiation and power lines. Find it at
http://www.cancer.org/cancer/cancercauses/
othercarcinogens/medicaltreatments/radiationexposure-and-cancer
greatriverenergy.com
Electric and Magnetic
Fields (EMF): the Basics
Staying informed about EMF research efforts
conducted by objective, third-party sources is
important to Great River Energy. We recognize
that people living or working near power lines
may have questions about EMF and we have
employees who work on power lines and
substations every day.
EMF exists wherever electricity is produced or
used, and EMF surrounds any electrical appliance
or wire that is conducting electricity. Everyone is
exposed to these fields. You are exposed at home
when you turn on a lamp, e-mail a friend, or use
an electric oven or microwave to cook your
dinner. In all likelihood, you’re surrounded by EMF
from electrical equipment in your workplace, too.
What are electric and magnetic fields?
These terms are often used interchangeably, and
both electric and magnetic fields from power lines
and electromagnetic fields may be abbreviated as
EMF. The voltage on an electrical wire is caused
by electric charges that can exert forces on other
nearby charges. This force is called an electric
field (E). When charges move, they produce an
electric current that can exert forces on other
electric currents. This force is called a magnetic
field (M).
We are all exposed to EMF everyday from
appliances and anything that uses, generates or
distributes electricity. When you are operating
a common vacuum cleaner or standing within
six inches, you may be exposed to a magnetic
field of 300 mG. See Figure 1.
What creates electric and magnetic fields?
Electric fields are created by voltage – the higher
the voltage, the stronger the field. Anytime an
electrical appliance is plugged in, even if it isn’t
on, an electric field is created in its vicinity. But
these fields are easily blocked by walls, trees, and
even your clothes and skin, and the farther away
you move from the source of the electric field, the
weaker it becomes. Moving even a few feet away
greatriverenergy.com
1/12/2016
Anything that generates, distributes or uses
electricity creates electric and magnetic fields.
See Figure 1 below.
Figure 1. Typical 60 Hz magnetic field levels
Magnetic field 6 inches Magnetic field
from appliance (mG) 2 feet away (mG)
Electric shaver
100
–
Vacuum cleaner
300
10
9
–
20
4
Microwave oven
200
10
Hair dryer
300
–
Computers
14
2
Fluorescent lights
40
2
Electric oven
Dishwasher
Copy machines
90
7
Garbage disposals
80
2
Source: National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences / National Institutes of
Health: EMF Associated with the Use of Electric Power
You can monitor your daily exposure to magnetic
fields by wearing a personal exposure meter
(called a magnetometer or gaussmeter) or by
keeping one close to you. This is the most accurate
way to measure your true exposure to magnetic
fields during the course of your normal activities.
Other meters can be put in a location – like your
kitchen or home office – to measure typical EMF
levels in that spot. This type of measurement isn’t
an accurate measure of personal exposure,
however, because it doesn’t take into account
your distance from the source of the fields or the
amount of time you might spend in that place.
Most utilities offer a free measurement service to
customers for their homes or businesses. Contact
your local electric service provider.
Because magnetic fields are unaffected by ordinary
materials, burying power lines won’t keep the fields
from passing through the ground. Compared to
overhead lines, underground lines are significantly
more expensive to install, more difficult to repair and
can have greater environmental impacts. Since current
research results provide no conclusive connection
between EMF exposure and adverse health outcomes,
burying lines isn’t a reasonable alternative.
We build transmission lines to industry standards.
There are no state or federal standards limiting
residential or occupational EMF exposure.
What are typical exposures at home?
Exposure levels vary from individual to individual
and from home to home, but a study by the
Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) puts the
background levels of power line magnetic fields
in the typical U.S. home at between 0.5 mG and
4 mG with an average of 0.9 mG. Levels rise the
closer you get to the source of the field. Most
people are exposed to greater magnetic fields at
work than in their homes. See Figure 1.
What EMF levels are found near
transmission lines?
All transmission lines produce EMF. The fields are
the strongest directly under the lines and drop
dramatically the farther away you move. See
graphs at right. Contact your local utility for EMF
information about a particular transmission line
near you.
Typical EMF Levels for a 69-kV Transmission Line
70
60
50
40
30
20
10
0
s
Center
Line
s
s
s
s
Edge of
ROW
100 ft
200 ft
300 ft
4
3.5
3
2.5
2
1.5
1
0.5
0
Electric Field (kV/m)
What produces EMF at home and at work?
Are there state or federal standards for EMF?
Magnetic Field (mG)
s
Electric Field (kV/m)
Typical EMF Levels for a 115-kV Transmission Line
70
60
50
40
30
20
10
0
s
Center
Line
s
s
s
s
Edge of
ROW
100 ft
200 ft
300 ft
4
3.5
3
2.5
2
1.5
1
0.5
0
Lateral Distance in Feet
Magnetic Field (mG)
s
Electric Field (kV/m)
Does power line EMF affect my health?
This issue has been studied for more than 30 years
by government and scientific institutions all over the
world. The balance of scientific evidence indicates
that exposure to EMF does not cause adverse health
outcomes (see Sources and Useful Links). The 2002
Minnesota Department of Health White Paper on
Electric and Magnetic Field Policy and Mitigation
Options states (page 36):
“The Minnesota Department of Health concludes
that the current body of evidence is insufficient to
establish a cause and effect relationship between
EMF and adverse health effects.” The entire report
is available at http://www.greatriverenergy.com/
deliveringelectricity/faqs/mndohwhitepaperemf.pdf
Does EMF interfere with pacemakers
or other medical devices?
Lateral Distance in Feet
Electric Field (kV/m)
Typically EMF research focuses on magnetic fields
and not electric fields because electric fields are
easily blocked.
Do underground lines reduce EMF levels?
Magnetic Field (mG)
Magnetic fields, measured in milliGauss (mG), are
produced by electric current and only exist when
an electric appliance is turned on – the higher the
current, the greater the magnetic field. As with
electric fields, the strength of a magnetic field
dissipates rapidly as you move away from its source.
However, unlike electric fields that are easily blocked
by ordinary materials, magnetic fields are not
decreased by walls, clothes or other barriers.
How can I measure my EMF exposure?
Magnetic Field (mG)
from an appliance makes a big difference in the
strength of the field that you’re exposed to. Electric
fields are measured in kilovolts per meter (kV/m).
High levels of power line EMF can interfere with a
pacemaker’s ability to sense normal electrical activity
in the heart. Most often, the electric circuitry in a
pacemaker might detect the interference of an
external field and direct the pacemaker to fire in a
regular, life-preserving mode. This isn’t considered
hazardous and is actually a life-preserving default
feature. There have been cases with dual-chamber
pacemakers triggering inappropriate pacing before
the life-preserving mode takes over. The American
Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists
(ACGIH) issued guidelines for EMF exposure
for workers with pacemakers or implantable
defibrillators. Maximum safe exposure for workers
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