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What is EMF?

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How EMF interacts with the world
around you?

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Recent research and additional resources

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Frequently asked questions

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​What is EMF?

Electric and magnetic fields, also referred to as electromagnetic fields or EMF, are found wherever electricity is generated, transmitted, or used. Sources of EMF are part of:

  • manmade environments, such as electricity, and
  • natural environments, such as the earth's magnetic field.

How EMF interacts with the world around you

Different forms of electromagnetic energy are distinguished by their frequency which is measured in hertz (Hz). Power lines use power frequency (60Hz), which is classified as extremely low frequency EMF. This is the same frequency used by most household appliances and the wiring in your home.  

EMF quickly diminishes in strength the further you are from the source.

Extremely low frequency fields are at the lower end of the electromagnetic spectrum and have very low energy levels. Higher in the electromagnetic spectrum are radiofrequency fields, microwaves, visible light, and ionizing radiation, such as X-rays, that have increasingly higher energy levels.

    



Frequencies of the
Electromagnetic Spectrum
and common sources

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Typical magnetic field levels in the home

 

Power line EMF levels

We recognize there are people concerned about Electric and Magnetic Fields (EMF), which exist everywhere there is electricity. As an electricity distributor, we take those concerns very seriously and are guided by EMF research that is compiled and reviewed by reputable national and international health agencies, including Health Canada and the World Health Organization.

Neither Health Canada nor the World Health Organization have concluded that typical exposures to EMF from power lines have any known health consequences.

EMF associated with the electricity we use (60 Hz in North America) is part of the extremely low frequency range of the spectrum with very low energy level that has no tissue heating or cell damaging effects.

 

​Recent research and additional resources

Additional information on EMF is available at:

Health Canada

World Health Organization

Canadian Electricity Association

National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences 

Frequently asked questions

Can I avoid exposure to EMF if I avoid power lines?
​No. EMF is found wherever there is electricity, whether it is power lines, electric appliances or household wiring.
I live by power lines or am thinking about buying a house near power lines, should I have concerns about my health?

​Extensive international research over the past 40 years has found no negative health effects associated to low-level electric and magnetic fields, like those from power lines.

The EMF associated with the electricity we use (60 Hz in North America) is part of the extremely low frequency range of the spectrum with very low energy level that has no tissue heating or cell damaging effects. Health Canada states that special precautions are not required with regards to extremely low frequency EMF.

Can EMF be eliminated by burying the power lines underground?

No. The electric fields from underground cables are shielded by the wire's insulation and the surrounding ground, but the magnetic fields are not.

Magnetic field levels are typically higher immediately above a buried power line, than they would be below overhead power lines. Like all magnetic fields the levels drop with increased distance from the cables as shown in the chart below.

Should I be concerned about the potential negative health effects of the EMF from power lines?
​The EMF associated with the electricity we use (60 Hz in North America) is part of the extremely low frequency range of the spectrum with very low energy level that has no tissue heating or cell damaging effects.
What precautions is EPCOR taking?
​We are committed to the health of our communities. If at any point Health Canada determines exposure limits or guidelines of exposure to extremely low frequency EMF are necessary, EPCOR would adhere to those recommendations.
Where can I get more information on EMF?
A list of sources of information on EMF is provided above in the 'Where you can find more information' section.

 


Disclaimer

This webpage provides information only. Any reliance placed on this information is strictly at your own risk. EPCOR does not assume any responsibility or liability for any action, loss or damage that arises out of, or is in connection with the information contained in this webpage.