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Critical Reviews™ in Biomedical Engineering
SJR: 0.207 SNIP: 0.376 CiteScore™: 0.79

ISSN Print: 0278-940X
ISSN Online: 1943-619X

Critical Reviews™ in Biomedical Engineering

DOI: 10.1615/CritRevBiomedEng.v31.i3.10
56 pages

Health Risks of Electromagnetic Fields. Part I: Evaluation and Assessment of Electric and Magnetic Fields

Riadh W. Y. Habash
McLaughlin Centre for Population Health Risk Assessment, Institute of Population Health/School of Information Technology and Engineering, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada; School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, 800 King Edward Avenue, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, ON, Canada K1N 6N5
Lynn M. Brodsky
Risk Management Unit, Senior Medical Advisors Bureau, Therapeutic Products Directorate, Health Products and Food Branch, Health Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
William Leiss
School of Policy Studies, Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada
Daniel Krewski
McLaughlin Centre for Population Health Risk Assessment, Institute of Population Health, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Michael Repacholi
Department of Protection of the Human Environment, World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland

ABSTRACT

Exposure to electric and magnetic fields (EMF) emanating from the generation, distribution, and utilization of electricity is widespread. The major debate in recent years has focused on the possibility that exposure to EMF may result in adverse health consequences, including the development of cancer. This article provides a review and evaluation of potential health risks associated with residential and occupational exposure to EMF. In addition to reviewing data from laboratory, epidemiology, and clinical studies, we examine exposure data from field measurement surveys and exposure guidelines that have been established for EMF. Currently, the evidence in support of an association between EMF and childhood cancer is limited, although this issue warrants further investigation. Evidence of an association between EMF exposure and adult cancers, derived largely from occupational settings, is inconsistent, precluding clear conclusions. There is little evidence of an association between EMF and noncancer health effects. Epidemiological studies of EMF and population health are limited by exposure measurement error and the lack of a clear dose/response relationship in studies suggesting possible health risks. Further research is needed to clarify the ambiguous findings from present studies and to determine if EMF exposure poses a health risk.


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