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EMF - its effects on your health.

EMF--Its effects on your health

Is electric power making people sick? Strange as it may sound, this question is being hotly debated today, in response to reports of possible health effects from electric and magnetic fields (EMF).

Some researchers have suggested that exposure to strong fields may increase a person's risk of developing certain types of cancer or other adverse effects. But laboratory studies have failed to find an explanation for these observations. Other field studies have shown no adverse effects, and laboratory research results are contradictory and inconclusive.

Nevertherless, media attention has focused on the possibility of risk, leading to public anxiety about exposure to EMF from electric power lines, video display terminals, appliances, and other common sources.

The National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA), Washington, DC, tells us that it recognizes the importance of this issue, and last year established a task force to examine what is known and unknown about EMF and health. One product of that task force is an assessment of the issue in a question-and-answer brochure: Biological Effects of Electric & Magnetic Fields.

This brochure is intended to answer the major public questions and concerns about EMF, explaining how people are exposed to the fields and reviewing the results of current research into their effects. It concludes that, despite considerable evidence that there is no risk, there is a need for continuing research into whether there are EMF effects, the biological mechanisms that cause those effects, and ways in which effects might be mitigated if necessary.

The brochure also states NEMA's conviction that the public must be fully and adequately informed about the issue, "so that people can weigh the evidence and make informed judgments in an atmosphere of calm and reason."

According to NEMA VP - Public Affairs Dan Shipp, NEMA's interest in the EMF issue is not new. "We've been following the scientific inquiry into EMF effects for several years," he notes, "and trying to make sure our members are informed."

The decision to publish the brochure was spurred by the need for a summary of the available information, accessible to the general public. "We don't have any independent expertise in this area," Shipp explains. "There's a lot of good scientific work that's been done, and more going on now."

But NEMA is concerned that fear of the unknown might lead to unnecessary concern about electrical products, and irrational and damaging public policy decisions. What NEMA is attempting in its brochure, Shipp notes, is to "put the issue into perspective and enable people to make intelligent decisions, based on fact."

He quotes the brochure's introduction: "NEMA...believes that these questions are important. NEMA also believes that by working together, the electro-industries, government, and the scientific and medical communities can find answers."

Single copies of the NEMA brochure are available without charge from National Electrical Manufacturers Association, 2101 L Street NW, Washington, DC 20037 or circle 600.
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Title Annotation:electric and magnetic fields
Publication:Tooling & Production
Date:Mar 1, 1990
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