Perhaps the most dangerous, damaging form of pollution facing developing countries every minute of every day is invisible, soundless, and cannot be touched or felt. It is electromagnetic field radiation (EMF) and it is emanating from virtually every single electrical appliance, computer, electric wire, TV, radio, microwaves and especially high voltage lines (overhead and buried) which are carrying current.
Electric fields are measured in units of volts per meter or V/m. Magnetic fields are measured in milli-Gauss or mG. The field is always strongest near the source and diminishes as you move away from the source. These energies have the ability to influence particles at ...view middle of the document...
The potential health effects of the very low frequency EMFs surrounding power lines and electrical devices are the subject of on-going research and a significant amount of public debate. In workplace environments, where EMF exposures can be up to 10,000 times greater than the average, the US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has issued some cautionary advisories but stresses that the data is currently too limited to draw good conclusions.
The existing evidence does not suggest that the low-power, low-frequency, electromagnetic radiation associated with household current constitutes a short or long term health hazard. Some studies have found statistical correlations between various diseases and living or working near power lines, but no adverse health effects have been substantiated for people not living close to powerlines.
There are established biological effects for acute high level exposure to magnetic fields well above 100 µT. In a residential setting, there is "limited evidence of carcinogenicity in humans and less than sufficient evidence for carcinogenicity in experimental animals", in particular, childhood leukaemia, associated with average exposure to residential power-frequency magnetic field above 0.3 to 0.4 µT. These levels exceed average residential power-frequency magnetic fields in homes which are about 0.07 µT in Europe and 0.11 µT in North America.
Malaysia’s electricity is primarily derived from 50 Hz AC which create an EMF that penetrates every cell in the body. The primary health risks caused by EMF's, result from the conversion of AC electricity into a DC pattern of energy. The actual conversion of AC electricity into DC is primarily accomplished by the use of transformers and electric motors.
Overhead power lines and 'step-down' transformers present the biggest dangers to the average citizen. Step-down transformers look like large metal canisters and are found hanging on many utility poles and are commonly seen throughout residential neighborhoods. Electric motors are found everywhere from vacuum cleaners to hair dryers to refrigerators.
WHO recommendations on precaution
The following is the section on "Protective Measures" from Chapter One, "Summary and recommendations for further work", from WHO Environmental Health Criteria Monograph No 238 published in 2007.
It is essential that exposure limits be implemented in order to protect against the established adverse effects of exposure to ELF electric and magnetic fields. These exposure limits should be based on a thorough examination of all the relevant scientific evidence.
As well as these established acute effects, there are uncertainties about the existence of chronic effects, because of the limited evidence for a link between exposure to ELF magnetic fields and childhood leukaemia. Therefore the use of precautionary approaches is warranted.
Implementing other suitable precautionary procedures to...