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Start / Magnetic fields and wireless technology

Magnetic fields and wireless technology

Magnetic fields and electrical fields are generated by all electrical devices, wires and cables.

Magnetic fields from power lines and radio waves from mobile phones are examples of electromagnetic fields. Earth has a static magnetic field that makes a compass point north. Radio waves are mainly used to transmit audio, video and text without using wires, for example from a TV tower to a television aerial, or between a mobile phone and a base station.

Health risks

No health risks have been scientifically confirmed in connection with exposure to low levels of electromagnetic fields below the Authority’s reference values. This is a conclusion drawn from several compilations of research findings.

At the present time, there are two identified areas in which a detriment to health from exposure to electromagnetic fields cannot be entirely ruled out. These areas are: 1.) exposure to magnetic fields from (for example) power lines and electrical devices, and 2.) radio waves from personal mobile phones. 

Very powerful electromagnetic fields can indeed constitute health risks. Powerful magnetic fields can affect nerve signals in the human body, but this presupposes magnetic fields that are hundreds of times more powerful than magnetic fields below the largest power lines. Powerful radio waves and microwaves can heat up the body to such an extent that they cause burn injuries. Today’s areas of application do not expose the general public to levels that are this high.

Recommendations

Mobile phones and magnetic fields from power lines are two areas in which research has indicated possible health risks. For this reason, the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority is of the view that the principle of prudence should be applied; in other words, that unnecessary exposure should be avoided. This is easy to do if you use hands-free equipment when speaking on your mobile phone.

The recommendations concerning magnetic fields from power lines are mainly intended for social planning and new construction purposes.

The role and responsibilities of the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority

The Authority has a responsibility to protect the general public from harmful effects from radiation. The Authority does this by:

  • performing monitoring and measurements
  • monitoring research
  • conducting risk assessments
  • taking action in the form of recommendations and regulations that are issued when we have identified risks

As an expert authority, the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority also has a mandate to increase the level of knowledge about electromagnetic fields, for example by means of training programmes. The Swedish Work Environment Authority is in charge of the aspects that pertain to workers.

Do you have any questions about electromagnetic fields?

Call one of the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority’s experts on the area. Telephone hours for the general public are 10.00-11.15am on Tuesdays and Thursdays. They are reached via the main switchboard, Tel. +46 8 799 40 00.  


Last updated 2017-06-13