High-risk groups

The omnipresence of electrical appliances in our daily life is a cause for concern. To date, no scientific study has been able to demonstrate the harmfulness of non-ionizing electromagnetic fields (EMF). Some studies have revealed statistical relationships between EMF exposure and biological effects, but fail to explain the causal link. When in doubt, the precautionary principle is applied. 

Babies and Children  

The lower the frequency, the more the magnetic waves penetrate the body.

Children are therefore all the more sensitive to low frequency waves: their bodies being smaller, the waves are more likely to reach the organs. 

In addition, their brain is still in the phase of morphological development and is therefore particularly sensitive to any harmful influence.

Although no studies have scientifically proven that non-ionizing electromagnetic waves pose a danger for children precautionary principles should be followed with:

  • mobile phones (do not trivialize the object, limit its used as much as possible)
  • baby monitors (choose a device that does not exceed 3V/m or place the device at a sufficient distance from the bed, at least 1 m).

To find out more:

Medical implant wearers

Electromagnetic fields above 100 μT may cause interference with medical implants (pacemaker or implantable defibrillator).

The intensities encountered daily being much lower, there is generally no risk.

In addition, modern medical implants have an increasingly effective shield that protects them from possible interference and most devices comply with the magnetic accounting standards (hospitals, GSM, aircraft).

In case of doubt some precautionary measures can be respected:

  • mobile phones and home wireless telephone: use them from the opposite ear to that of the implant and respect a distance of 15 to 20 cm from it
  • anti-theft detector, metal detector: go through it without stopping, do not touch the device with the chest, nor any other detector using radio frequencies.

To learn more about exposure in the workplace:

Pregnant women

The effects of electromagnetic fields on pregnant womenstill raise many questions. 

The studies are unreliable and it is all the more difficult to draw any conclusions from them, since compliance with the exposure limit values for the mother does not always entail compliance with the limit values for the embryo or the fetus.

In general, the exposure to electromagnetic fields present in the environment do not seem to increase the risk of spontaneous abortion, malformation or low birth weight (World Health Organization)

But the fear of a risk can itself lead to harmful effects on health.

While waiting to know more about the possible risks of the electromagnetic fields, it is preferable to apply the precautionary principle.

In the context of work, pregnant women are among those at particular risk as defined in the Royal Decree on the protection of the health and safety of workers against the risks of electromagnetic fields in the workplace (10/06/2016) 

Workers

Some workers are particularly exposed to radiation and for these reasons must take special precautions.

In this case, it is necessary to turn to the occupational medicine prevention services:

To learn more about exposure in the workplace:

Sciensano is a member of the Superior Health Council and advises on the risks associated with mobile communication and other types of non-ionizing radiation, in particular radio frequencies.

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