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Precaution regarding electromagnetic fields
  1. Why does BfS consider precautionary measures regarding electromagnetic fields to be necessary?
  2. Which precautionary measures does BfS recommend?
  3. Which precautionary measures can people take themselves?

  1. Why does BfS consider precautionary measures regarding electromagnetic fields to be necessary?
  2. The effects of low frequency electric and magnetic as well as high frequency electromagnetic fields on human beings are well known today. In order to protect humans from scientifically proven health effects of such fields legal limits are set out in the 26th Ordinance on the Implementation of the Federal Emission Control Act (26th BImSchV) for fixed and commercially applied low-frequency (for example high-voltage power lines) as well as high-frequency installations (for example mobile phone base stations).

    Science can, however, by no means prove that health related risks do not exist at all. Therefore it can never be definitely excluded that a risk exists which was not discovered yet.

    High-frequency electromagnetic fields

    The evaluation of the results of the German Mobile Telecommunication Research Programme showed that the valid legal limits protect against the known health effects of high frequency fields. Two topics were, however, identified which should be further investigated: possible health risks when using mobile phones intensively for a long time and possible health effects for children and adolescents.

    Low-frequency electric and magnetic fields

    Epidemiological studies show consistent evidence for a possible health risk from low-frequency magnetic fields (see to the top

  3. Which precautionary measures does BfS recommend?
  4. An important aspect of precaution is to reduce exposure of the public to electromagnetic fields both by lowering the field intensity and by reducing the duration of an exposure. Other precautionary measures are to intensify research in order to reduce scientific uncertainties and to broaden the current state of knowledge as well as providing information and education to the public on health risks. These two tasks are performed by BfS.

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  5. Which precautionary measures can people take themselves?
  6. Everyone has the chance to minimise the effects of low-frequency electric and magnetic fields as well as of high-frequency electromagnetic fields individually.
    • Keep a distance.

      The intensities of both low-frequency and high-frequency fields decrease strongly in most cases when the distance to the field source is increased. So keeping a further distance is a simple method which often helps to clearly reduce exposure. Examples for specific measures are:

      • do not place mains-operated clock radios close to your bed-head
      • install the baby monitor at least one metre away from your baby, place its power supply unit as far away from your baby as possible.

    • Reduce the duration of exposures – switch off standby sources.

      A lot of devices are not switched off or left on standby even when they are not used. This behaviour does not only lead to wasting energy but it also leads to produce magnetic fields.

    • Use radiation reduced appliances.

      For some appliances there is information concerning EMF emission available from the manufacturer or on the internet. You can find a list of the SAR values of available mobile phones here. BfS informs on radiation reduced cordless telephones in its internet article “Cordless phones with low EMF radiation levels” (In German). For baby monitors, mobile phones and cordless telephones  an environmental label (Blauer Engel) exists. For mobile phones and cordless telephones, however, it is not used by the manufacturers.
    You can find advice for minimising radiation exposure while using a mobile phone at “FAQs to the Topic "Mobile Communications".

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