EMF (Electric and Magnetic Fields)

current passing through a magnetic field

NIOSH research on protecting workers from proven and possible EMF health risks focuses on:

  • RF (radio frequencies)—including broadcast antennas, induction heaters, and cell telephones
  • ELF (extremely low frequencies)—including AC electricity and video display terminals (VDTs)
  • Static Magnetic Fields—including DC electricity.

NIOSH Documents on ELF-EMF Research

Manual for Measuring Occupational Electric and Magnetic Field Exposures
NIOSH Publication No. 98-154 (1998)
This technical document is a reference manual for industrial hygienists and researchers who measure occupational exposures to static and ELF EMF.

NIOSH Publication on Video Display Terminals
NIOSH Publication No. 99-135 (3rd ed., 1999)
This publication is a collection of NIOSH studies and statements on all kinds of health effects from working with VDTs, including studies which found no link between their EMF emissions and reproductive effects.

RF Fields

OSHA: Radiofrequency/Microwave Radiation
Information on the recognition, evaluation, and control of RF/MW radiation.

Federal Communications Commission (FCC): Radio Frequency Safety
Information and health standards for consumers and broadcasters on wireless communications, including cellular telephones and amateur radios.

Food and Drug Administration (FDA): Radiation-Emitting Products for Home and Entertainment
Information for consumers and manufacturers on microwave ovens, video display terminals, cell phones, etc.

International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC): Non-Ionizing Radiation, Part 2: Radiofrequency Electromagnetic Fields.
IARC Monographs, Volume 102 (2013). This highly-respected international program evaluated the carcinogenicity of RF fields, especially cell phones, as part of its program to evaluate all potential carcinogens.

FDA/FCC: Consumer Update on Mobile Phones
FDA site with answers to frequently-asked questions about potential health risks from using mobile telephones and research on this question.

NIEHS: Cell Phones
NIEHS research on possible health risks from cell phones, especially the ongoing animal cancer assay by the National Toxicology Program (NTP).

National Radiation Protection Board in Great Britain: A Summary of Recent Reports on Mobile Phones and Health (2000-2004)
NRPB-W65 (2005)
This British report reviews studies of brain cancer and neurological effects from the use of cell phones health and highlights any commonality or differences in opinion.

National Radiation Protection Board in Great Britain: Health Effects from Radiofrequency Electromagnetic Fields: Report of an independent Advisory Group on Non-ionising Radiation
NRPB Documents Volume 14, No. 2 (2003)
This report examines possible health effects of exposure to RF fields, with an emphasis on studies conducted since the report Mobile Phones and Health by the Independent Expert Group on Mobile Phones Chair Sir William Stewart (2000). The Stewart report was one of the first government reviews on possible health effects from cell phones. It recommended precautionary measures to protect the public health.

ELF and Static EMF

Risk Assessment and Risk Management Five major evaluations of the evidence for health risks from exposures to occupational and residential ELF-EMF have been published since 1999. Four of them were accompanied by statements on managing EMF exposures and directions for future research.

OSHA: Extremely Low Frequency (ELF) Radiation
Information on the recognition, evaluation, and control of ELF radiation.

OSHA: Computer Workstations
This page briefly examines the potential hazards and interventions employers can use to prevent or reduce the potential harmful effects of working with computers.

NIOSH Fact Sheet: EMFs in the Workplace
NIOSH Publication No. 96-129 (1996)
En Español
This fact sheet answers frequently-asked questions about extremely low frequency (ELF) EMFs in the workplace. This publication can help identify EMF sources at work and suggests simple steps for reducing exposures.

EMF Databases

Job Exposure Matrix (JEM) for Power-Frequency Magnetic Fields
This site contains Excel® spreadsheets developed by NIOSH to assess exposures to ELF magnetic fields by occupational categories. By using the 1980 Standard Occupational Classifications (SOC) or the 1980 U.S. Census categories, this JEM can be linked to mortality and morbidity databases for epidemiologic studies (Bowman et al., 2006).

EMF RAPID program: EMF Measurement Database
This site contains six databases of EMF measurements taken in homes and workplaces. The data is thoroughly annotated and can be downloaded in various forms.

Worker Notification Program

Through the NIOSH Worker Notification Program, NIOSH notifies workers and other stakeholders about the findings of past research studies related to a wide variety of exposures. The links below present archival materials sent to participants in studies related to EMF from video display terminals.

Links to Other EMF Sites

FDA: MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging)
Information for consumers and professionals on benefits, risks and safety measures with MRIs.

National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences:
Electric and Magnetic Fields Information on possible health risks from ELF EMF and and links to NIEHS publications.

Health Protection Agency in Great Britain: Electromagnetic Fields
Information, research publications, and the United Kingdom’s health standards on many sources of RF and ELF electromagnetic fields: cordless phones, cell phones, wireless local are networks (WLANs), WiFi networks, electric substations, power lines, and amateur radios.

World Health Organization (WHO): International EMF Project
Provides a collection of fact sheets and other resources concerning health effects of exposure to RF and ELF electromagnetic fields.