Electric and magnetic fields (EMF)

Electric and magnetic fields (EMF) are part of the natural environment and are present in the earth’s core and the atmosphere. These fields are also produced wherever electricity or electrical equipment is used.

All electrical appliances that electric current flows through such as the computer, television, hair dryer, electric blanket and clock radio produce EMF (including ‘standby’ modes), as does the electrical wiring in any home or building.

Electrical energy involves ‘voltage’, which is the pressure behind the flow of electricity that produces an electric field, and ‘current’, which is the quantity of electricity flowing that produces a magnetic field.

At extremely low frequencies such as power frequencies, electric and magnetic fields do not normally radiate from their source. They merely exist in the space surrounding their source, and the strengths of the fields decrease rapidly with distance from their source.

On the other hand, at much higher frequencies such as radio frequencies, energy is radiated away from the source and can be detected at great distance. Other familiar examples of radiating fields are television signals, microwaves and sunlight. It is for this reason that power frequency EMFs are described as ‘fields’ and not ‘radiation’.

What are electric and magnetic fields?

As the name suggests EMF is made up of electric fields and magnetic fields, which each have their own characteristics.
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EMF is all around us

The magnetic field levels of electrical appliances and equipment on the electricity network can vary depending on its specific electrical rating and the actual current/electrical load, the wiring/cable configuration and distance from the source.
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EMF and the electricity network

Just like electrical appliances and wiring in your home or office, electrical equipment on an electricity network, such as transformers or overhead and underground powerlines has current flowing through it and produces EMF.
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Health standards

Ausgrid and the rest of the electricity industry have followed interim guidelines for exposure to electric and magnetic fields developed by Australia’s National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).
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The health debate

The debate over whether electric and magnetic fields have any effect on human health began in the 1960s
and many scientific studies have been undertaken since then. The weight of evidence is presently against EMFs causing adverse health effects.
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Prudent avoidance

Prudent avoidance is sometimes used to describe measures adopted around electricity networks to minimise exposure to EMF.
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