electromagnetic pollution

Electromagnetic pollution

Electromagnetic smog in the workplace is an insidious form of pollution because it is not clearly perceived by people who may therefore find themselves exposed to high levels of radiation without realizing it. Computers, monitors, processors, external drives, UPSs, wireless systems all contribute to increase the level of electromagnetic pollution in offices, especially where technology is essential. Therefore, sanitary agencies are often doing controls to verify that workers’ health isn’t in danger. Knowing the duration and the intensity of exposure to electromagnetic pollution allows to determine its harmfulness and take precautions. LABORAD srl issues appraisals for workplaces and explains possible solutions to the problem.

For a free evaluation on electromagnetic fields hazard, you can contact one of our technicians in the section: Ask the expert.

 

Electrosmog

Electrosmog, or electromagnetic pollution, is the result of the presence of electronic equipment or electric cables emitting electric, magnetic and electromagnetic waves.

Electromagnetic fields are generated by every electric device or conductor: electric power lines, cordless phones, microwave ovens, computers, UPSs, antennas.

Pollution sources that produce electromagnetic fields are divided in two categories:

  • low frequency sources (< 100 kHz) that comprise all devices of electric energy transmission at industrial frequency and all electric devices;
  • high frequency sources (100 kHz -3 GHz) that comprise radio, tv and phone towers.

ELECTROMAGNETIC FIELDS IN WORKPLACES

Numerous activities at the workplace can lead to exposure to electromagnetic fields at levels higher than those found in other environments. Among the main sources of electromagnetic pollution are distinguished:

  • static electric and magnetic fields (equipment powered by DC voltage, Nuclear Magnetic Resonance)
  • ELF electric and magnetic fields (extremely low frequency radiations, i.e. 50 Hz for the transport and the use of electric energy)
  • radiofrequency industrial heaters and microwaves (wood, textile and electronic industry…)
  • biomedical equipment (magnetotherapy, medical diathermy, electrocautery, tomography, Nuclear Magnetic Resonance…)
  • telecommunications equipment
  • magnetic gates and anti-theft systems
  • radiofrequency identification systems (labels, transponders).

ELECTROSMOG EFFECTS ON HEALTH AND SAFETY

All sources of electromagnetic fields can have direct health effects but also indirect ones. The latter are associated with the ability of an electric apparatus to generate electromagnetic disturbances in another that can create health problems on particular categories of workers or problems of safety at work.

In view of safety in the workplace and life, the presence of electromagnetic fields is particularly important in three areas:
• the effects of biomedical implants (i.e. pacemakers, metal implants, …)
• the effects of electronic devices responsible for signaling alarm for high-risk events and, in general, the management of potential accidents in industrial processes (safety equipment)

• the safety of diagnostic or therapeutic apparatus that must properly function for the quality of performance, quality that in some cases may play a critical role (i.e. life support equipment).

These effects can occur even at exposure values below the action levels fixed for workers. Therefore, especially in these areas, measurements of electromagnetic pollution (electrosmog measures) are fundamental and also, when necessary, shielding.

 

LAWS

D. Lgs. 81/08 at title VIII chapter IV, clearly states the employer’s duties in hazard assessment. According to the degree, in case of uncertainty on whether exposures to electrosmogs are irrelevant, the employer assesses and, if needed, measures the electromagnetic fields the workers are exposed to.

 

Guidelines (in italian)

Decreto Legislativo 81/2008, Titolo VIII, Capo I, II, III e IV sulla prevenzione e protezione dai rischi dovuti all’esposizione ad agenti fisici nei luoghi di lavoro.